Monday, April 19, 2010

Gopher Trapping

The pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius) is a burrowing rodent.  He is a digging machine, his teeth never stop growing, his ears have valves he can close while digging, his hearing is poor, he has weak small eyes and his front feet have large claws.  He is called a pocket gopher because of the pouches in his cheeks where he carries food.  Gophers live a solitary life, tunneling underground..eating roots and surfacing to eat above ground or to pull an entire plant into their tunnel.   They are a pain in the neck for farmers.  An acceptable way to get rid of them is to trap them.

I learned how to trap gophers when I was just a kid.  My brothers and I had a trap line..back then we got 10 to 25 cents for a pair of front feet.  In Minnesota, each township can decide to put a bounty out on pocket gophers..currently I believe the bounty is $2 for a pair of front feet..inflation..

Yesterday I went along on part of the trap line that my Nephews have set..they check the traps at least once a day..with their children..my great niece and nephews.  If the sight of a dead gopher bothers you or severed feet..you should bail now..
 The twins got their gear out of the truck, they explained to me, that the jelly jar was just for the feet and all the jelly was gone.  Jordan has the jar, and a shovel.  Gavin has the clipper.
 Off we go..singing "Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts"..not really but you get the idea.
Missy setting a trap.
 Hunter placing a trap.  This one was at the edge of the field.
 The group, working together..checking traps.
 Josh digging out a hole.

Dead Gopher Warning..your last chance to bail..
 Jordan..the chief scout..has declared that there is one in the trap.. indeed their was..a fat one too..all the kids commented on it's fatness.
I will spare you the clippers..but the feet ended up in here..

Anna was getting tired and wanted to be carried..me too..it was tough walking out there in the field.   It has been planted with beans, a few of them are up, but not many.  This is a field of certified organic beans.  I had Josh call Far Guy and he came to pick me up at the edge of the road...I did less than half of the trap line. However it was an interesting diversion for a Sunday evening:)

20 comments:

  1. Oh I remember those days when our girls used to trap gophers here in our fields, keep the feet in jars in our refrigerater! That's when you don't want someone opening up your frig door to see that! Kudoos to Hunter, Josh & Missie for teaching thier kids how to make a little money and that it helps the farmers fields!

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  2. So glad to hear that Chance is better. Good job on the trapping. I've never done that.

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  3. I didn't realize you could get paid for trapping gophers in MN and I've lived here all my life. Not something I plan to take up however.

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  4. Arghh! What a gruesome task, but one I see is very important to carry out. Glad you strong-minded Minnesotans are up to it. I probably should have listened to your warnings, but I am a glutton for punishment.

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  5. We have Moles. Same M.O. as Gophers. They are destructive little things. Emma is a great mole hunter. She knows when they get close to the surface and will stand perfectly still for a long time and then BAM!!! She dives into the ground with her nose (ouch) and comes up with a mole! She doesn't kill them, just tosses them out on the grass.

    The Duchess

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  6. Good for you! They are distructive creatures that is for sure!

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  7. I don't think I would have the guts to do that. My hubby used to do it when he lived on the farm. His method was using a pitchfork and flipping them out of the ground. Then you can guess where the pitchfork went next. Makes me cringe thinking about it.

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  8. Brings back childhood memories!

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  9. Good post, it made me remember how my brothers used to keep their gopher feet in the freezer. We had lots of strange things in the freezer, gopher feet wasn't the strangest.

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  10. What the heck you say, your state not only allows you to trap vermin in a death trap, you can actually get money for them! I'm packing my bags right now, any little farms for sale, how da they feel 'bout coyotes?

    Good work you trapping family, hey, you were singin' too does that make you all the Von Trapps?

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  11. I play Caddy Shack all season long in the acre I call my yard. Some of my tactics are kinda funny! I have to agree that this is one post that's not for the faint at heart!

    Have a restful evening Connie!

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  12. Those are really large gophers. I remember out on the farm when one hit our front yard and he had tunnels all over zig and zagging. I liked walking on the tunnels and they would just push the dirt back up again. You jogged a forgotten memory. Thanks, I think.

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  13. I believe I trapped some of these guys' ancestors! Ugh.... an interesting time it was... I tell ya it sure looks like more fun having the entire family out there -- even a great auntie!

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  14. Far Side, I love how you bring the rural life to the surface through your blog. It might not be NYC, but it's just as real as anything else going on out there. Thanks for recording all of this, especially for those who do not see this kind of thing everyday, if ever. It brought back memories for me of a more rural existence in Montana.

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  15. Very interesting! I just heard about them again on "You Bet Your Garden"--a public radio show (website of the same name) and he commented on what an awful pain they are. I'm amazed by how big the head is on them. Now...if I could only do the same thing with the VOLES that come in and eat my gardens...at least everything with a decent root. Garlic, chives, parsley, even some lillies....and they are a little bit cunning, you can't always catch them in traps. Ugh.

    Anyway, I'm really glad to see that the tradition continues there on the farm.

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  16. LOL! They just decided to NOT list Pocket Gophers in Wyoming as a endangered species. Apparently in Wyoming they only live in Albany County. I guess they must have found out about all the pocket gophers in Minnesota!

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  17. I have never hear of that!! They are a big problem. I think we have them in our yard...we have something under our grass!! Sounds like an interesting afternoon!!

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  18. Your readers also may be interested in the products found at CrittergetterOnline.Com which have been proven (both through customer feedback and testing performed by the University of Nebraska) to be 90% effective for gopher control. The Crittergetter uses an abatement technique that folks have employed successfully for decades.
    http://www.crittergetteronline.com/
    Link to University of Nebraska report: http://www.crittergetteronline.com/PDF/gophers.pdf

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  19. Well, this is a New Mexico woman who made her spending money in Jr. High by trapping gophers in my parents' alfalfa fields. The gory truth is that the gophers push dirt along in front of their faces - the trap has a vertical piece of metal that is pushed by this dirt and BAM!! there are forked prongs released in just the right place to grease some gopher guts..... Look more closely at the photos in this blog. Thank you for some reality checks, and the memories........
    Denice

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  20. you can also get rid of gophers by planting red peppers or putting dog or cat fur to repel them or even use bubble gum as a trap to get them stuck in it.

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie