Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's that tiny pen for?

An addition to the FAQ page:

First time visitors to TREES almost always ask what the small pen at the far end of the front field is for.

That little pen is our Groundhog Paddock. When the front field was first fenced for horses, we tried to encourage out little friend to move on, filling the holes with everything from plain rocks and dirt to used cat litter (which we were assured would be a foolproof deterrent.) Time after time, though, Madame Groundhog re-dug and meticulously cleaned her home and stayed put.

After months of battling, we agreed to a compromise. We would fence off her hole so it would not be a danger to the horses, and she could stay as long as no new holes appeard outside of her paddock. Six years later, no new holes.

Last summer, we noticed that our little groundhog seemed suddenly very old. Her coat was a dull silver rather than the shiny sooty brown it had been. She became quite thin, moved very slowly and seemed to become hard of hearing, not noticing when a lawn mower or tractor approached. Sadly, we have not seen the determined old girl since last fall.

Last week, however, a new resident surveyed the field, perched on the side of the Hole in the Paddock. A descendent of her Highness? We can't be sure, but no matter. For now, the Groundhog Paddock remains in place.

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