Blood On The Tracks

I think this may be the most suburban thing I've ever said in my life, but here goes anyway: we're having a bit of trouble with gophers on our front lawn. I said that to a friend last week in a bar, and I swear I could see his eyes glaze over before I even got to the second syllable in "gophers." Hey, young people: whatever you think you're going to become when you're twelve or eighteen or twenty-three, chances are it's not a person who laments things like gopher holes on your front lawn. But I've got news for you: one day you'll wake up and you'll be thirty-two with a mortgage and you'll find yourself at Lowe's on a Saturday morning buying bags of dried blood.

Say what now? Come again? 

Dried blood, according to the very knowledgable man in the Lowe's garden department—he was almost too knowledgable, honestly; I mean, come on, who knows that much about gophers and doesn't go home to his mother's basement to stick pins in a homemade effigy of Jessica Alba while listening to Judas Priest backwards?—is kryptonite to gophers. If we bought a bag of dried blood, swore this dude at Lowe's, then went home and sprinkled it on our front lawn and in our flowerbeds, the gophers would be so disgusted that they'd flee our front lawn as though we'd shown up in our slankets proposing a marathon of Celebrity Apprentice while we clipped our toenails and sang along to Celine Dion. 

"Do you....sell this dried blood?" I asked him hesitantly, half afraid of the answer, and mostly hoping I wasn't going to have to hand someone a wad of cash under a table, which—seeing as I can't even tip a bellman without making the whole transaction screamingly awkward—is something I can't ever imagine being smooth enough to do. 

"Yeah, totally," he said. "Aisle three." 

"Great," I said. "And just so we're clear, whose....uh....whose blood is it?"

"Oh, it's mine," he said. "I volunteer. Just kidding! It's dried pig's blood. Hahaha! Got you though, right?"

Oh yeah, Lowe's Garden Center Man, you got me! But only one of us is going on a date in the next twenty years, and it's not you!

Dried blood, by the way, was the second thing this guy suggested we sprinkle on our lawn to repel the gophers, the first being black pepper and the third being urine. I didn't have the heart—or the stomach, quite honestly—to ask if that was of the pig variety too, but let us all just pray fervently that it was. 

If you're thinking that this whole gopher thing sounds awfully familiar, you are not wrong. Last June, great dirt mounds started appearing on our front lawn, which at first I attributed to the slightly crazy lady across the street—who has since gone, by the way!—and then finally admitted was probably gophers after all, at which point we bought one of those special poles that emits high-pitched sounds. That worked for seven or eight months and then stopped because apparently—according to the guy in Lowe's, who really should be studying for some sort of doctorate in gopher behavior, or at least boning up for a future episode of Jeopardy!—gophers are adaptable creatures and eventually learn to live with things that have hitherto been tormenting them. Incidentally, this is also how I lived on one of the busiest, dirtiest, and noisiest streets in San Francisco for three years without jumping out of the first floor window. 

Anyway, turns out when you have a bag of dried blood in your garage, there are quite a few jokes you can make. There are also quite a few neighbors you can shock unintentionally—"hey, did you sprinkle that blood yet? Oh hi, Mrs Jones! Didn't see you there!"—and there are also quite a few hours you can put off the task of opening it, because while you may think you are curious to know what a bag of dried blood looks (and smells) like, let me assure you that you are not missing out by not knowing. (Red. Sandy. About as weird as you'd expect.)

So now we just sit and wait and hope the gophers take the hint and get the hell out of dodge. I've got to tell you, I'm really, really banking on this to work. If your other option was urine, you would be too.  

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Mar 26, 2012

Did you know that dogs adore blood? I had every flower I had just planted totally dug up by my dogs when I used blood in the fertilizer. I'm hoping you aren't visited by every dog in the neighborhood.

Mar 27, 2012

Actually, if Sean is a meat-eater, having him take a piss in the yard (perhaps at night, so as not to frighten the neighbors) would be a great deterrent to gophers. And rabbits. Possibly also small children.

::ahem:: My point is, the urine of predators (i.e. an animal - or person - who eats meat) frightens prey. It's a well-documented, if a little icky, gardening trick. ;)

Good luck with the pests!

Mar 27, 2012

Still thinking about that comment by Kelly the other day and how you keep writing so little about you and so much about "things" and here you go: Charming us into the purchase of dried blood.

Hope the nasty little gophers make a fast exit!

Mar 27, 2012

I'm so sorry to laugh at your misfortune, but I can't help it! Especially Allie's comment above to have Sean pee on the yard. I'm sure that could also get rid of any unwanted neighbor activity in your area too! In all seriousness, I hope the dried blood works for your sake!

One Third Acre Woods
Mar 27, 2012

Maybe Sean could just pee into the holes that are already made. Just make sure he is good and hydrated.

Mar 27, 2012

so we had a similar problem at our last house. and i'm not ashamed to admit (though the husband might be ashamed to know i'm posting this on the internet)...he peed around the perimeter of the yard. worked for us since we were kind of in the boonies and didn't really have any neighbors. not sure that would fly in san fran. here's hoping the dried blood works!

"Oh yeah, Lowe's Garden Center Man, you got me! But only one of us is going on a date in the next twenty years, and it's not you!"

This was the laugh I desperately needed this morning! Thank you!

Mar 27, 2012

i find there is a lot of weirdness and amusement in the fertilizer/pesticide section of garden stores. my favorite product name is simply called "fish and poop".

Mar 27, 2012

Love this! Substitute gophers with deer and you had my outing to Ace Hardware on Sunday. According to the kid at the store some variation of coyote urine is supposed to work (on deer, not sure on the gophers).

Mar 27, 2012

Gophers--they drove me crazy last summer. Practically destroyed our front lawn. We tried every humane trick in the book (but not dried blood). Finally, at our wit's end, my husband (without telling me first) poisoned them with some pellets from Home Depot last fall. I think that did the trick. I felt bad about it when I heard about it, but frankly we tried to get rid of them the humane way but they would not take a hint. Also destroyed 4 of my neighbor's lawns, too. My coworker poisons her gophers and calls it "food" to help ease her mind, I guess!
Anyway, GOOD LUCK! ANd yes, I did make *mountains* out of thse molehills!!

Mar 27, 2012

Good on you for trying the humane way- too many humans just kill anything in their way! Imagine ending a little creatures life because of something so minor like your lawn. Sure it's annoying to have a ratty garden, but poisoning is the most horrible slow death (I cant even believe its legal to do that- its like torture and can take days).

Sorry I didn't want to tun this into some "PETA style rant" but there are many ways of doing things without killing an animal that plays a part in our ecosystem! If all else fails, there are humane traps, and you can relocate in the forest/woods at last a mile away. And have a clear conscience :)

Mar 27, 2012

While I'm all for Sean's urine stepping up to the plate, if the dried blood doesn't work out, I just worry about him getting arrested. So make sure he pees in a water bottle first and then takes it outside.

I've got y'alls best interests at heart.


Mar 27, 2012

I thought you could just stick the hose down one of the holes and they'd all surrender and run off! At least, that was my 10 yr old cartoon-version of dealing with gophers.

Sorry, but you description was totally entertaining! Just sayin'!

Mar 28, 2012

Please (oh please!) be sure to report back on the efficacy of this approach. We are truly desperate to solve the gopher problem around here. A large peeing dog has not yet done the trick, so pig blood could very well be on the horizon.

Mar 28, 2012

Um. What happens when it rains?

Mar 28, 2012

I love that this has turned into a discussion of Sean collecting urine to distribute around the lawn in the dark of night.

We have a couple crows building a nest at the top of the tree over our front walk. They keep dropping all sorts of nesting crap (apparently they like used tissues and Hawaiian print fabric, along with the sticks and twigs)

Mar 28, 2012

we have used everything from cougar piss to dried blood to deter rabbits from snacking on our garden and burrowing under our porch. still have damn rabbits.

Mar 29, 2012

mole/gopher holes in your yard are a good thing (this written by a person who lives on a secluded 2.5 acre patch of land). rather unsightly but they are the sign of a healthly eco-system. if you don't have a hole or two in yard, then you have something to worry about. btw husband piss keeps the deer from munching your veggies and flowers!

Marissa Miller
Apr 02, 2012

My mom swears by sticking Juicy Fruit gum down the gopher holes. Apparently they love the stuff but can't digest it, so they end up meeting their maker...but here's the best part. It all happens underground, so no messy clean up! Or blood! Or pee!

Jun 06, 2012
Nov 17, 2012

Very intresting and inspiring post, thanks for sharing.

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