Tag Archives: life skills

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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