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October 12, 2016

For those of you that know my wife personally, it probably is no great surprise to find out that she rarely swears or curses. Therefore, imagine my shock after the following exchange:

“Those little fuckers! They make me so mad.”

“Wait, what are you talking about?” I inquired as I struggled to make sense of my otherwise genteel wife dropping the F-bomb.

“Those stupid chipmunks. They’re tearing up my flowerbeds again. I think they are eating my bulbs too. Look here, see that hole? Do you think we could put a hose down there and drown them?”

I tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh. “Well I don’t think that would work as usually they have another hole they can just climb out of. Besides, they’re cute woodland creatures. Do you really want to kill them?”

“Yes. They are ruining our landscaping.” she replied. “Besides they not really that cute anyways. They look like brown and white striped rats. Do you think we can get rid of them?”

“Sure, if you really want to.”

“I do. I hate them!”

Round 1: Non-Lethal Means

Still a little amazed at the passionate anger my wife was displaying, I drove to the local garden supply store and starting scanning the aisles for rodent repellent. Most were a mix of various natural oils including mint, rosemary and cedar that supposedly would drive the little devils away. I admit, even as I was buying it, I doubted the efficacy of the product. However, I thought for $15 bucks it was worth a try.

Let me just say here, that the “100% natural, long-lasting formula” didn’t work at all. It was as if the chipmunks couldn’t even smell the product. My wife would dutifully come home every day from work and apply it around their newest forays into our flowerbeds and the very next day, new holes would appear.

If anything, I think that I could have done a better job of repelling them by simply pissing on the mulch. And every so often, just as the sun was setting, we’d see the little critters sneaking across our yard, running along the fence and generally taunting us as if to say “See, that $15 bucks worth of potpourri that you bought really was a waste.” I imagine the little fury beasts were probably using it as some kind of expensive bath salts, rubbing it all over their little armpits as it obviously had zero deterrent effect.

So now, after realizing its generally worthlessness, my wife started stealing rocks from our landscaping to cover their burrows, thinking somehow that she would forever entomb them in their dark little dens like The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.

As you can imagine, this also had little effect as the chipmunks would simple tunnel around the stones. Now we just had misplaced rocks and holes in our flowerbeds as the chipmunks continued to taunt us.

Round 2: Stepping Up Our Game

You have to understand at this point that I didn’t really have anything against the chipmunks personally. As sexist as it may sound, I was the man in the relationship and my wife was obviously perturbed by these fury little creatures. I felt it was my husbandly duty to make my wife happy so I considered my options. I was a the provider, the hunter, the alpha male that was not going to let these little bastards make my wife crazy- so I turned to more lethal means.

A trip to Lowe’s and the grocery store later, I was ready for battle. I had bought my provisions thoughtfully. Several spring-loaded rat traps and a jar of crunchy peanut butter were my weapons of choice.

“Do you think this will work?” my wife asked.

“I don’t see why not. If it works for rats, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work for chipmunks.” I replied. How little I knew.

At first the traps seemed like a good idea. After a few close calls, I finally was able to set all the traps successfully.I placed them around the perimeter of our house along the walls and the natural chipmunk paths around our property.

“There, that should get them.” I exclaimed as my wife looked on approvingly. So we went to bed that night, expecting that our little rodent problem would soon be over.

Checking the traps the next day after work, I realized that this may not be as easy as it first appeared. Instead of chipmunks, I had caught two field mice. And as alpha male as I wanted to appear to be, I still donned vinyl gloves as I peeled their carcasses, congealed with blood, off of the wooden bases and reset the traps.

Time passed. More dead mice. And then triumphantly- a chipmunk. “Aha, I got you!” I shouted at the rodent with the grossly disjointed neck. I admit that it was with a certain amount of pride that I told my wife that our chipmunk problem was over.

Little did I realize then, that much like midgets, chipmunks roam in packs. And it seemed that the other chipmunks had learned their grisly lesson from their dead friend as I couldn’t catch another chipmunk for the life of me, no matter how dutifully I baited and set the rat traps.

Round 3: A Novel Solution

It was around this time, that one day a neighbor passed by and saw my wife still moving stones to cover the chipmunk holes and sprinkling the worthless rodent repellent around the flowerbeds.

“Are you using that all natural rodent repellent? That stuff didn’t work for me at all.”

“Yes.” my wife replied. “It hasn’t really been working that well for us either.”

“So let me tell you a couple of things. One, that repellent that you bought has a money back guarantee. And if you really want to get rid of the chipmunks, there is a much easier away.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“First you get a 5 gallon bucket, a board, and a bag of sunflower seeds. Then you fill the bucket about a third full with water and sprinkle the sunflower seeds on the water since they’ll float. Next, you lay the board like a ramp leading up to the bucket and hanging over the edge of the bucket by a couple of inches.

Then just spread a few sunflower seeds along the board and then leave the trap out for a couple of days. Those chippies will see the seeds on the water and their greed will get the better of them and they jump right into the bucket and eventually drown.”

“Huh.” I replied. “And this really works?”

“Sure does. I do it every year and it takes a couple of weeks but eventually you’re chipmunk problem will be solved.”

Good to know. After thanking him for his neighborly advice, I went to the garage in search of my new supply list. I had a 5 gallon bucket laying around and a board that made a perfect ramp. And since I am a sunflower seed addict I had a bag or two in the pantry already.

Setting up the trap itself took about 3 minutes and I felt at this point that I was pretty much ready to try anything to get rid of the chipmunks. At first, I was a little concerned that their death would be slow and horrible but I soon pushed those thoughts aside as I surveyed the damage they continued to ravage upon my flowerbeds.

Then days passed. I would check the bucket trap occasionally but there would be nothing but water and some rancid sunflower seeds sunk to the bottom of the bucket. In fact, I actually forgot that I had set it up since it seemed to be just one more folk wisdom proved wrong.

But then, one day as I was out barbecuing, I happened to glance in the bucket and there was a floating, bloated, obviously dead chipmunk in it. I admit, that this filled me with both joy and an uneasy feeling. Mostly because the chipmunk carcass had started to lose its hair into the surrounding water so what I saw was more like a ballooned chipmunk with a severe case of alopecia.

“It worked.” I exclaimed to my wife as I strutted into the house. “That bucket contraption really did catch a chipmunk.”

“Good. I’m glad.” she replied.

“Yeah, I really had started to give up hope that it would work but apparently that neighbor knew what he was talking about.”

After this, I had renewed confidence in the bucket trap and successfully caught a few more chipmunks- enough chipmunks to appease my wife’s apparent blood vendetta against them at least.

“Do you think we need to keep setting that bucket trap up? I think we’ve caught most of them.” she asked.

“You sure? I mean it seems to be working pretty well.”

“Yeah, I think so. Besides it will be Fall soon and we probably won’t have to worry about them much anymore.”

“Cool. Thanksgiving’s coming up pretty quickly and I need that 5 gallon bucket back to brine the turkey.”

“Wait, what?”

“Oh nothing.” If there is one thing I’ve learned in 5 years of marriage, sometimes it’s better to keep some things to yourself.

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