By David Hull
Spring has arrived and so have the outside projects around our house. This year my husband, Bernie and I had an important job to focus our attention on — building a fence to enclose our vegetable garden.
Over the years we have slowly enlarged our garden, so that it now includes tomatoes, squash, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, jalapeño peppers and eggplant.
Last spring there was a problem. All the new vegetables were growing well… until the woodchuck who lives in the brush out behind our property found the new and improved garden, and thought he’d stumbled upon the rodent version of an all-you-can-eat-buffet restaurant.
And I suspect this woodchuck is not of the ordinary variety. He’s very big, very bold and has a very nasty attitude.
Whenever I went out in the yard and spotted him, he didn’t even run away. He just stood up on his hind legs giving me a hostile stare, almost challenging me.
When I shouted and waved my arms, he stood quietly and watched, apparently thinking that I was performing some sort of interpretive dance program for the neighborhood.
And when I finally did storm after him with the broom, he grumbled an irritated growl before turning and waddling away.
I called him Darth Woodchuck.
Someday I expect him to turn to me and speak with the voice of James Earl Jones; “I am your woodchuck, young Jedi!”
Now when he first discovered the garden, Darth Woodchuck immediately ate all the squash, cucumber and broccoli sprouts, but seemed content to leave the rest of the garden alone. I figured the other vegetables were safe and ignored the critter whenever I spotted him waddling through the yard because I foolishly assumed he wasn’t interested in the remaining plants. Apparently that was all part of his evil strategy.
Once the tomatoes began to ripen, Darth Woodchuck brought his wife and three children along to join him in wrecking havoc. They ate the red, ripe tomatoes. They ate the pink, semi-ripe tomatoes. And they plucked the green tomatoes off the vine, took a bite and then tossed them to the ground.
Now my husband is half-Italian, so tomatoes are used to make sauce, sweet, tangy, juicy tomato sauce and I don’t want anyone messing with the future of the sauce.
Of course, this woodchuck aggression on the tomatoes meant war.
But even wielding my broom like a light saber I was no match for Darth Woodchuck. If I patrolled the garden in the morning, they came to eat in the evening. If I was guarding the tomatoes, they were digging around the cabbage. Sometimes as I stomped around the garden, I saw them peeking down at me from the trees (yes, woodchucks can climb trees and it freaked me out), waiting for me to leave, so they could resume their meal in peace. I couldn’t stop them.
Finally, Bernie (in the role of Yoda) stepped in and explained: “Next year, a fence we will build.”
So that became Job #1 this spring. We started with a trip to the gigantic hardware superstore in our area where Bernie began looking at fences and I began looking at handsome store clerks.
Finally, Bernie insisted that no matter how difficult it was for me, I’d have to stop chatting with Kyle and Andy, and focus on shopping for fences.
It didn’t take me long to make my decision. I picked out the pristine white picket fence with the cute gate that I’m sure every homo dreams of as an enclosure for his vegetable patch.
Bernie picked out this sad-looking chicken wire fence with nasty metal posts.
“Not that,” I cried with disgust. “It’s too ugly. I want that white picket fence. It’s just adorable.”
“You don’t need adorable,” replied Bernie. “Martha Stewart isn’t coming over to garden with you. We’re getting the chicken wire fence.”
“That’s not fair,” I snapped. “You’re not even seriously considering my choice. My opinion is just as valid as yours. You’re treating me like I’m just some mindless trophy husband!”
Bernie folded his arms and looked at me. “If you’re the trophy, then what the hell kind of contest did I win?”
“That’s not the point,” I answered. “I want the white picket fence.”
“Okay,” said Bernie. “Let me put it to you this way. The chicken wire fence will cost us less than $200. Your white picket fence will run about $1,000.” And then, just to sweeten the deal, Bernie threw in another little tidbit. “If necessary, the chicken wire fence can be electrified.”
Now he was talking my language. We’d save $800 and we could zap Darth Woodchuck with an electric shock as well. I was all for it.
“Let’s get the chicken wire fence,” I enthusiastically agreed. And Kyle and Andy helped us load the fence into the back of our van.
So, with the minimum amount of cursing, but the maximum amount of sweating, we installed our new chicken wire fence over the weekend. And although it doesn’t look nearly as cute as that white picket fence, I have to admit, the chicken wire fence doesn’t look too bad either.
It’s too early to put the vegetables in yet. And I haven’t seen any sign of Darth Woodchuck or his family, but I feel that we’re well prepared for the gardening warfare season.
Bernie has explained to me that he was just joking about electrifying the fence.
“You’d never have a chance to zap any animals,” he said. “You’d electrocute yourself before the woodchuck got anywhere near the garden.”
However, it is still a nice fantasy for me. I could crank the power up to maximum voltage and if Darth Woodchuck got to close to the fence I’d be able to invite Kyle and Andy over for a freshly cooked woodchuck dinner.
And since it was roasted on a chicken wire fence, it would probably taste like chicken.
You can contact David at Davidhull59@aol.com