One of Norm’s main goals in life is to control the rodents that would otherwise destroy our crop, or worse the vines. We have nicknamed him Carl and painted a sign on the garden shed that reads, “Caddy Shack” after the antics of Bill Murray in the not-so-socially-redeeming movie from the 80’s of the same name.

Norm has purchased and/or invented several methods to control gophers and ground squirrels, which include:
– a hollow stick arrangement he bought, into which he inserts poison and dispenses into the gopher run,
– poison “Blue Oats” for squirrels which are made and sold by the county Department of Agriculture,
– and a “Gopher Blaster”, homemade from bits and pieces of pipe and tubing with a propane tank and some sort of ignition device.

Now these are all well and good, but Norm wants a body count. So the stick has been abandoned, the oats only used in desperation and the gopher blaster is now used primarily for starting the camp fire when the children want S’mores.

The weapons of mass destruction (WMD) of choice these days are traps. Cage traps for the squirrels are baited with an assortment of tidbits for their last supper, which includes peanuts and peanut butter, Beneful dog food, stale granola and when they’re available, walnuts from our tree still in their husks. Once trapped, the critters are given swimming lessons. They’re not very good at it. I know, I hear you saying, “Awww…” but it is illegal to move them from the property, and when they’ve eaten a whole row of grapes, it becomes a fight to save our investment.

The gophers meet a swift and deadly end in another sort of trap. Norm finds the run, places the trap, checks back and usually finds a casualty. He caught 9 in one day ahile back, though now he has them under control there are very few around. These guys will eat the roots right off the entire vine if not kept in check. Luckily we’ve only lost 2 vines over the past 4 years to them.

Our favorite rodent eradicator of the natural variety however is Barney. He (she?) is a resident of the owl box, which when you see the picture, you will know why we call it the Owlamo. She (he?) has raised 3 sets of babies in there since Norm designed and built it for them.