Saturday, July 16, 2011

On General Sheridan and Groundhogs

“The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” That is a statement I remember hearing from my earliest youth, probably from countless Western movies so prevalent on the limited viewing channels television offered in the seventies and eighties. Personally, I always hated that statement, for the… and I will use the more accurate current vernacular… Native Americans, that is, those indigenous people on the North American continent, who long predated any of the supposed “discoverers” of America, whether it was Columbus or Leif Ericson, lived life in a manner that completely humbles me. They would never need to acknowledge who originally discovered their homeland, for nature is the all powerful force and not some haphazard human wandering. In fact that entire statement of “discovering” America is such a pathetic reflection on our “cultured” view on the world in general, well, it reflects quite accurately how “unnatural” we have become as a species of mammals on the planet. Just to begin… Who “discovered” America? No indigenous creatures need apply!

But again, I have digressed greatly with that rant. The point of this entry begins with General Philip Sheridan’s statement, that,… that is… that, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” In fact, that is not how he worded that now famous statement. The original wording was “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” It is quite a vast gulf between equating an Indian as being good only if that Indian is no more, than relating that the only “good” Indians that Philip Sheridan had known were dead. This merely reflects how words that travel, either by word of mouth or written down, change from monkey to monkey… ooops! Did I say that? I meant human to human. Alas, the human language is challenging me at this point. Nonetheless, I shall move on, but before I do so, I MUST ASSERT, that there has been no greater example of human societal co-existence that I have learned about than the Native Americans from the coast of the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific! The term “Indian” be damned! We have learned NOTHING if we still do not understand what “culture” actually existed before we trod the TRUE human species down on this continent!

Digressions, digressions! The point of this entry is not so much about General Philip Sheridan’s remark, but more so on how such a statement can be misconstrued over time. And this has nothing to do with the Native Americans, who I RESPECT UNEQUIVOCABLY!!!

The actual issue of this entry has to do with groundhogs, more specifically, how some of my statements on groundhogs have been misconstrued of recent. And these erroneous judgments on my statements need to be clarified. The reason for bringing up General Philip Sheridan in the first place is that my statements on groundhogs are almost opposite of his on… Native Americans.

My statement originated as, “The only good groundhog is a dead groundhog.” It was quite a simple statement, and I thought it was straightforward enough to make its point quite succinctly. But such was not to be that statement’s fate. No, it was quickly turned into the statement, “The only good groundhog I ever met is dead.” Now that is not at all what I intended!

To pause, I am quite aware of how cute Puxsutawney Phil appears to some on Groundhog Day, that cute little docile creature that is lifted up before the cameras and such, but that is not a REAL groundhog. The groundhogs in which I am referring are the coward type, that tunnel under or through any human constructed barrier to devour almost everything in its path.

Personally, I never met a “good” groundhog. Groundhogs, in general, are the most nefarious of creatures to the organic farmer. They do not passively spend their time consuming readily available vegetation nearest its hole. No, they will do whatever it takes to DESTROY as much effort that an organic farmer can produce without a second’s moment of hesitation. They will tunnel under, around, over, even through any type of fencing devised to keep those beasts at bay. It does not matter how satiated they may be from surrounding vegetation, THEY MUST find the freshly nurtured crops that are specifically not intended from THEM! And I am a veteran of the groundhog wars. I have witnessed their relentless activity for years. Today, in fact, I witnessed yet another attempt of a groundhog to infiltrate the fence barrier to Field 4. Very thick and very tall vegetation surrounds the outside of Field 4, but from the inside along the fence barrier, which consists of chicken wire on the lower portion buried in the ground at least three inches, I could easily distinguish a groundhog’s attempt at digging under the barrier on the west side. There is a new three foot section of tunneled dirt of which only a groundhog could be the cause. It did not succeed in that area. Yet. Last Thursday, one did get through, ripping through the chicken wire on a portion of the south side of the fencing, and the result was that it devoured 75% of last week’s intended salad mix, along with the remaining endive and head lettuce, as well as the parsnips and red cabbage. And that was in one day! And most assuredly one groundhog!

They are relentless in their attack. They will stop at nothing,… until death. And thus the statement: The only good groundhog is a dead groundhog.

I am aware that many will not like to read those blunt words, but it is the truth, although the wording could be changed a little bit, but more on that later. As for now… how to relay to the non-farmer what a groundhog’s attack is like… Perhaps an example would be an unwanted guest in one’s house, who eats everything in the refrigerator while one is not at home. After a long day of toil, the homeowner returns famished, only to find that everything in that mechanized cooling devise is empty of all means of sustenance. That may not be an accurate example, but it happens something like that. Only the groundhog works covertly. It is akin to an organic food terrorist, only they don’t blow up anything, they just devour… all of it. They work by cover of vegetation, and mostly during hours when no one is monitoring the situation. If any sound of a human is heard, those cowardly creatures dart off as quickly as possible into holes in the ground that have been dug in such a fashion that it is impossible to root them out. Ugh!!! How I HATE those creatures!!!

In fairness, I will attempt to analyze a groundhog’s beneficial side. I have been told by… a rather naïve lady at one point, that their tunneling aerates the soil. Bah! What nonsense! They only tunnel along field edges and such, and they do not aerate anything that they cannot devour immediately! Does a tree’s root system need to be aerated? For that answer, ask a tree!

One of the main problems with groundhogs is that there is no longer an indigenous creature that attacks, thus limits the population of groundhogs. Although coyotes are making a comeback, wolves have long been driven away from this mid-Atlantic, mid-Maryland region. And so, groundhogs are free to multiply… and devour everything to their stomachs content.

But I will have none of that! As much as I am at war with the corporate agriculture chemical machine, I am also at war with those nefarious cowardly creatures known as groundhogs! I can pick out their movements, their activity almost instantly. The dull gray color of their fur acts upon my eyes like the color of blood! EMERGENCY!!! That infiltrator must be stopped! At all costs!!!

With that, I will clarify my previous statement a bit. Whereas, “the only good groundhog is a dead groundhog” seems to work to a degree, a more clear, more succinct statement is “the only possibility for a groundhog to be good is if it is dead!!!”

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