One of the less attractive features of the chaparral is a little beastie known as a gopher (though it's generally referred to by names I won't repeat here). This destructive little devil bores holes through the dirt, burrowing underneath your favorite plants and eats them from below. You can watch them disappear down into the ground as the gopher gobbles them up, safe in his burrow.
Most of the year, the soil out here is as hard as concrete. The gophers in their burrows are safe from just about anything short of nuclear or chemical weapons. During these times, the soil is so hard that the gophers can't make new burrows.
But after rains, the soil dampens and softens up. Right now if I walk in my yard, my feet sink into the ground a half inch to an inch. The gophers, when they detect this softening, go right to work, digging their burrows at a prodigious rate. Every few feet they drill a hole to the surface so they have a place to kick out the soil they have excavated. You can track the progress of an individual gopher by watching these “tailings piles” build up around the excavation holes.
Right now in our yard (which is about three acres), we probably have about twenty gophers excavating like mad. One of these is boring a hole right across the front of our house, right alongside the concrete slab. I think it must be a particularly stupid gopher, as there is no food available here at the interface between our slab and our driveway. Nevertheless, el stupido gopher is drilling away, leaving a trail of tailings piles across the front of our house.
Debbie has been raking the debris piles flat, so they don't look so bad. I suspect the gopher is delighted by this assistance, as it makes it easier for him to kick more dirt out of those excavation holes. I picture him telling all his buddies about the helpful human he has, filling them with jealousy. They're probably all boring in our direction now.
What I'd really like for Christmas is a Gopher Terminator robot, preferably one equipped with a wide variety of gopher terminating devices. I'm ok with tactical nukes, and certain kinds of chemical weapons are all right as well. I'd rather stay away from the biological weapons. Anybody know a web site I can buy one of these from?