I’ve been learning more about how other people see gophers. According to a local land steward, the children of the original Ohlone people here practiced their hunting skills on them. Terry recently read that for generations famers fed freshly trapped gophers to their chickens to increase the protein in their diet. What an incredibly abundant source of food!
|Tried to photograph Bella eating a gopher,
but she eats too fast.
We have a large gopher population. When commercial strawberry farming was going on over the hill years ago, the gophers would invade everyones property as the fields were gassed with any number of toxic brews. These refugee’s from over the hill have thrived in subsequent years.
Gophers do well on land that is neither tended to regularly by gardeners/farmers, naturally forested, or physically occupied by people or livestock. How you see gophers has a lot to do with how you garden/farm. If you expect to flip a switch and have everything grow according to plan, you don’t have a lot of appreciation for gophers, if you occupy the land in some way you’ll probably find a balance. We’re still in the process of occupying our 1 acre of cleared land, gradually migrating activity further and further uphill where gophers still dominate the landscape.
I started caring for the spirits of the gophers I trapped shortly after I was introduced to the synch trap. Over the months the spirits I work with have continued to teach me more about how to trap gophers in a way that cares for their spirits. Recently the Spirit of the Land has been asking me to show gratitude when I harvest a gopher. Gratitude for gophers, never thought I’d arrive at that spot!
She is of course right. I had to kill by hand a gopher I’d wounded by not setting a trap correctly, as I cut through its neck to make sure it was dead I noticed how vibrant its flesh was. As someone who cooks for his family I have a lot of chances to judge the quality of the meat in my hands. This was some of the best meat I’d seen in a long time. No wonder our dog Bella loves to eat them!
To the land, everything is available for harvest, including gophers. Our behavior encourages and discourages them, we are a significant participant in their population growth. If we really had gratitude for them, appreciation for the harvest they represent, we would be well on our way to finding balance with them.
We don’t have any weeds on our land, just native plants and volunteers. Turns out we don’t have any pests on our land either, just richer harvests we weren’t aware of. Even though they ate a few of our young fruit trees this year, I’m no longer lamenting our gopher population. I see them as richness, potential to be harvested when the moment is right.