Category Archives: farming

My Old Man Taught Me How to Trap Gophers

gopher-moundTo be clear, I never refer to my dad as “my old man,” opting instead for the more commonly used “my dad” when referencing my father.  I chose to go with “my old man” for the title of this post only because I thought these three simple words would garner more attention in title form than “my dad” would have.  I have nothing against people who refer to their father as “my old man,” or any other title for that matter.  To each, his or her own.

 I apologize for getting a bit side tracked there.  Getting side tracked happens often when I am speaking to someone as a random thought that loosely connects to what I am talking about enters my brain, and my filter doesn’t work fast enough to stop the random thought from exiting my mouth.  I guess the same thing can happen when I am writing, must be a communication issue. 

 We just moved into a rental home that rests half a mile down a dirt lane on the banks of the Snake River.  The property the house sits on belongs to a farmer, and while we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of crops we only get to help maintain five of them.  At this point those 5 acres include the house, lawn, more trees than I can count, and several acres of over grown pasture.  This property is a quiet and restful place, and it is just what are family needs at this moment in time.  (More on that in future posts and podcasts.)

 We also inherited several resident gophers which leads me back to the title and my dad.  When I was a child, growing up on our 40-acre farm, I learned how to trap gophers.  My dad taught me how.  I learned how to kick down the older gopher mounds we wouldn’t be needing after locating the freshest mound.  I learned how to read the fresh gopher mound to decipher where the hole might be so I would know where to start digging.  Once I dug I learned how to fill around the earth to find the hole, if it wasn’t already visible, and I learned how to clean out the hole to prepare it for a trap.

 Once the digging and hole preparation was done I would set the box trap, my preferred trap of choice, and move on from there waiting, and returning daily to see if a gopher had been caught.  We used other methods of gopher trapping, such as gassing them or flooding them out of their holes, but I always appreciated the box trap.

 After being on our new property a few days and noticing there were gophers we needed to take care of Samuel, my oldest son, and I went to Tolmie’s, the local Ace hardware store and purchased two Bower’s Gopher Traps made in Marsing, Idaho.  After getting the traps home I taught my boys how to flatten the gopher mounds we weren’t going to use by kicking them, and to look for where the hole might be on the freshest mound.  As I dug into the ground and deposited a spade full of earth next the mound I got down and showed them how to feel for and find the gopher hole.  Our next step was of course to clean out the hole, set the trap, and put the trap in the hole.

 So far, we have set three traps, and we have caught three gophers.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t set a gopher trap in over 20 years.  We even found a post to put the dead gophers on for the resident birds of prey to enjoy. 

 As I was putting an empty trap away one evening after another successful kill and disposal I started thinking about how and when I learned to trap gophers with my dad.  Then I started thinking about how as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children useful skills they will be able to use in the present and well into the future.  When I learned how to trap gophers I wasn’t thinking about how I might someday pass that skill on to my own children, I was just excited to learn a new skill.  Today, I am glad I paid attention so I could pass a new skill on to my sons. 

 Perhaps my recent gopher killing spree is a good reminder for all of us to take the time we need to pass on skills and other useful things to our children.  I’m reminded that so much of what our children need to know in life comes from us, their caretakers, their guardians, their parents.  Let’s make sure and remember to do our best in passing useful skills along, as we seek to enhance our children’s learning and knowledge and in the process make the world a better place.

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Not Winner Winner

When I got home yesterday one of my sons met me at the door of my mini-van (#dadvan).

As he began sharing with me about our sick chicken he became a little bit emotional. And I was met by more emotion when I got inside.

Having talked with Heidi, my wife, on the phone while I was at work I had already been made aware of the chicken’s worsening condition, and had made the decision to put the chicken out of her misery when I came home. After I got home we talked with the boys about it and we all agreed this was the best course of action.

We have our chickens for the purpose of having fresh eggs, and while we don’t necessarily identify with them as pets all of our hens do have names, and you kind of get used to having them around. We also, as lovers of animals, don’t want our animals to suffer, and that was hard for some of us to see. You might identify with this and see where a little emotion might come in.

Having pets and raising animals is good for kids because among other things they are able to learn responsibility and companionship. Children who are fortunate enough to be around animals also learn about the circle of life. Some lessons are best learned through life experience with lots of hugs and conversations.

So yesterday I had to ring the neck of the leader of our hen house so she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Her name was Goldie. Her full name was Goldie Hawn. (My apologies to the real Goldie Hawn.)

As parents we often will have to do things that are the right thing to do, while at the same time being hard or uncomfortable. This comes from being the adults in the family, and may have something to do with maturity. Putting a chicken down wasn’t that hard for me, but it just reminds of some of the other things we might have to do as parents that are.

R.I.P. Goldie. Thanks for the eggs!