All the Things

A blog by Holly Papa.

Cari has a Grandma Dowdel Moment or She Kills A Gopher With a Shovel

by | Jun 24, 2009 | Blog | 10 comments

iwillsurprisemyfriendOkay, now that I have your attention. I should explain a few items of business at Bookscoops (and I really did kill a gopher with a shovel). For one – I accepted a position as a literacy specialist at a local middle school, which I am very excited about- and two, we are reeeaalllyyyy far behind on our Double Scoop for this month, but it is coming. . . we promise – the author is none other than the brilliant Mo Willems and the book is I Will Surprise My Friend – an easy reader. My sister is in the process of moving (again) to a more permanent home than our mom’s basement with less spiders (she hopes). But until then I thought I would share with you what I have been doing (besides getting ready for the next school year and taking care of my kids).

yeardownyonderIn April, Holly and I reviewed A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck and the main character – Grandma Dowdel is amazing, from trapping foxes for needed money to keeping the town gossips in line; but what I really wanted was for her to come to my house and take care of my underground rodent problem. As some of you may or may not know I have a serious gopher (possible vole) problem in my yard – I have mentioned in a few posts, the angst it has caused me, I have lost countless bulbs of the crocus, iris, and tulip variety, several rose bushes, my lavender plants (although they are making a nice come back) and some lovely evergreen bushes. Not to mention the random piles of dirt strewn about the lawn and the numerous methods and even more failures we have used to eradicate them. I was seriously concerned about our vegetable/fruit garden and the damage these little bite sized herbivores could do. I mean really I want to do my part in the green movement – grow my own food, composting, reduce waste, etc, but these rodents are putting a chink in my garden plans (actually it’s more like a bulldozer).


My raspberry patch - yummy!!!

I’ve tried a variety of methods including traps, smoke bombs and I have called exterminators, which won’t (or can’t) guarantee they will get rid of the buggers.

So what works?

A hose down their tunnel with water to chase them out and then I hit them on the head with a shovel – a hand shovel, no less. If your reminiscing about the game Whac-A-Mole it’s very similar. . . except for the side affects.  I immediately started shaking all over. . . . I just kept thinking – It was them or my garden and I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home as I might lose my chance. I called him right after, and I could hardly speak I was so shaking so bad (I could not be a hunter for sport) and he thought something was seriously wrong and then he was shocked to learn that his wife – me, had killed a gopher (I waited until he got home so he could get rid of the body). I proceeded to tell my daughter who was playing with a friend. Her friend said, that when her brothers kill one they act all happy, why was I shaking so bad?

Orange Miniature Rose, gopher hole and shovel

Orange Miniature Rose, gopher hole and shovel

Since then I have killed three more . . .and we still have more to go (we live next to a large open field and close to a large section of undeveloped land), but at least Grandma Dowdel would be proud of me! Oh and I did tell my Grandpa B on the phone, that I have some of his blood in me (he is the one who trapped skunks for furs as a kid see the post on A Year Down Yonder to read his story).

So be forewarned the rest of you underground living, plant loving rodents – don’t get between me and my plants because I carry a mean hand shovel. Thanks for the inspiration Grandpa B and Grandma Dowdel!!!

I know this is not your typical experience you glean from reading an excellent novel, in fact I’m willing to bet it’s on the unusual side, so my question is what is your most unusual experience you have had with a book in real life?


  1. sdechantal

    I have gophers too….. new this year and EXTREMELY annoying. They are going through my front yard so I have those beautiful little mounds all over the place. “SIGH”. My friend who gardens a lot said that you take juicy fruit gum (has to be juicy fruit) slice it into little strips and then place it at the entrance to the whole they make. They eat it, it plugs them up and … well… you know the rest.

    Haven’t done it because I am not sure how I feel about that, but thought I would share this weird bit of info with you. Meanwhile…. I still have a gopher opportunity.


  2. melissa @ 1lbr

    I’ve been having a pest problem with my garden too, but they are snails. Thousands and thousands of snails. I put out the bait – they eat it until it’s gone and then there are more to take their places. Maybe I should just start whacking them. Thanks for this post – I adored A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago. It definitely brought a smile to my face!

  3. caribookscoops

    Sdchantel – Thanks Shelia for stopping by and I feel your pain. The gophers are a pain. I have recently heard the juicy fruit thing and I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it probably doesn’t have the risk that poison poises to children and pets. Something to think about and good luck with your “gopher opportunity”

    Natasha – Thanks for the compliment although I don’t think I am quite as good as she is.

    Melissa @ 1lbr – Oh snails, yuck!!!! I hope you get rid of them soon, we have a few, but nothing like your problems. I’ve heard putting beer in a pie tin and burying it so the top is even with the soil works. They like the smell and fall in and drown. Don’t know if it works or not. So glad you liked the Peck’s books, he is one of my favorites.

  4. Britt

    WOW! I’m impressed.

    I don’t think I could have done it.

    I like pouring salt on snails myself… 😀

  5. hollybookscoops

    cari- I tried the juicy fruit thing and it didn’t seem to work. I don’t know if I did it right though- I just put the whole strip in. Our most effective solution was cats. Lots of them. Like seven in one litter. But, those are the benefits of country living. Keep up the good work!

  6. hopeistheword

    I can’t think of any book experience I’ve had like this right off the top of my head, but I enjoyed your reference to A Year Down Yonder tremendously–it’s one of my favorites!!

    I just wanted to pop over and say thanks for commenting on my last Read Aloud Thursday post and to invite you and your sister to participate. I host it each week, and it’s simply a chance for you to share your current read aloud(s).

  7. Haiku Amy

    Oh my gopher holes! We have a gopher too! I spotted the little mound of dirt, and saw the little bugger popping his head out. I am way to scared to try to whack it though. Our problem is the land behind us is being developed, so all the critters are moving in. The mice have been chewing through our window screens (we live in the basement).

  8. Britt


  9. caribookscoops

    Hopeistheword – so glad to hear that you enjoyed my reference to A Year Down Yonder, it is one of my favorites too, and thanks for the invitation to participate in Readaloud Thursdays.

    Haiku Amy – I swear those gophers are everywhere and yikes about the mice chewing through the screens. Yikes, yikes, yikes.

    Britt – You said it so well.


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