Johnny Chuck

I was flat out over the weekend, working on the farm, and then spent Monday driving downstate and closing up a temporary rental house. So I have not had time to write. With luck, tomorrow.

However, as I was driving out of the farm tonight after chores I glimpsed a small face peering out at me from a new hole excavated under the boulder wall D created in 2005.

A woodchuck!

My friend Alison is not a fan of woodchucks, but I don’t think she grew up on Thornton Burgess’s Adventures of Johnny Chuck (with the charming 1913 illustrations by Harrison Cady, including this one of a woodchuck hibernating in a nightcap and overalls) and Robert Lawson’s grumpy old Porky in Rabbit Hill.

Alison is practical. She worries about holes, and horses and cows snapping their legs.

I think about this, too. But to me no field is a field without a woodchuck. I never saw one as a child in the suburbs, but my reading and rereading of the Green Meadow stories trained my expectations.

The first time I saw a woodchuck on the farm, in the far corner of the north field, it was 2009, I was standing on the unfinished garage ceiling, and I pointed it out to Luke, hugging him with glee.

It was a long time before I caught another glimpse. Then I realized that the boulder walls built by Tommy, D, and Allen over the years at the edges of my pastures had created a woodchuck paradise. There are excavations along the foot of them all.

I will have to do some research and figure out the size of a woodchuck’s territory. I would be interested to know if I have one peripatetic woodchuck or the equivalent of a prairie dog village.

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2 Responses to Johnny Chuck

  1. viki barney says:

    I miss our woodchucks! We had a family that returned to have new babies for several years. The last year, there was even an albino baby! Then some dogs chased them and that was the end of the family. Stupid dogs.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Viki, I have been reading about woodchucks and the mortality is huge, and I expect even tougher in these last two winters of unpredictable weather. There must have been immense die-off during hibernation in the winter of 2010-11, when we had snow so early that lasted so late.
      Here is a great website full of groundhog information:
      http://www.terrierman.com/groundhogdeath.htm
      I would have loved to see the albino. Take care!

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