Wet and Wild

This extraordinarily dry weather of late reminds me of one particular day in July, when we were laying sections of irrigation pipe in our vegetable fields. 

The pipe was about 20 feet long and 2 inches in diameter, but since it was made of aluminum, it was lightweight. And, with a bit of practice, one person could easily move each section and hook it up without any help. 

I remember, one day, when I picked up a section, it seemed just a little heavier than normal. But I attributed the extra weight to a bit of soil that must have somehow gotten wedged into the pipe. But as I walked with the pipe down the rows of cabbage, I could hear a rather strange sound that was reminiscent of fingernails scraping on a blackboard. 

When I looked in the pipe, I could see a couple of beady eyes staring at me and I realized that a gopher (Richardson’s Ground Squirrel to be technically accurate) had made the pipe its home.

Now, I naively assumed that a gopher in a pipe was no big deal. I reasoned that if I stood the pipe vertically and gave it a few good raps, the gopher would come sliding out. Boy, was I wrong. It seemed that the harder I hit the pipe on the ground, the more determined the gopher became to stay put. 

I should have realized that any animal that spends its life tunneling in soils would not find digging its claws into aluminum pipe all that challenging.

So after many futile and frustrating attempts at dislodging the gopher, I decided that the only way to safely get the grippy gopher out was to hook the pipe up to our irrigation pump and let the little rodent enjoy a free "waterslide".

 Sure enough once the pump was fired-up, and the water started flowing, the gopher shot out of the pipe like a kid on a waterpark slide. The gopher looked more like a startled wet rat when it popped out of the pipe and with a rather surprised and indignant look the saturated gopher scurried off to our shelterbelt and disappeared.

I gained a new respect for gophers that day and I think that while the gopher was a little miffed at me, getting out of that hot pipe with a refreshing shower must have felt pretty darned good.

~Jim Hole