Excerpt: ...It is remarkable how many wood-chucks will not only get
a living, but wax fat on an old farm where the farmer himself has
difficulty in making year's ends meet. Addison estimated that at
one time there were seventy wood-chucks on the Old Squire's
homestead, all prosperous and laying by something, metaphorically
speaking, for a rainy day. Despite all the evil that is said of the
wood-chuck, too, he does in reality a much smaller amount of damage
to man than one would imagine from the outcry against him.
Occasionally, it is true, a chuck will begin nibbling at early
pease, or beans, and do real, measurable harm, but the injury which
he inflicts on the farmer in the hay-fields is generally much
exaggerated. In the "south field" that year, there were two acres
of red clover, where not less than seven Pg 211 or eight
wood-chucks dug new holes and threw out mounds of yellow earth,
which in some places crushed down the crop. Then, too, in feeding
and running about, they trampled on plats of the thick clover,
particularly where it had "lodged" from its own rank growth. There
were, in all, five or six square rods of the grass which it was not
deemed worth while to attempt to mow at all, and the loss of which
was due in part, but not wholly, to the wood-chucks. The hired men
scolded about it, and Gramp himself, who had a farmer's natural
aversion to wood-chucks, fretted over it. We boys, too, magnified
the damage and discussed ingenious plans for exterminating them.
But after all, I do not believe that we really got two hundred
weight of hay less in the field, in consequence of wood-chucks; and
certainly the clover as it stood was not worth sixty cents a
hundred. A dollar and twenty cents would probably have made good
the entire loss; and I suspect that one-half of the damage from
trampling on the clover was done by us boys, in pursuit of the
chucks, rather than by the chucks themselves. At least, I still
remember running through the grass in a very reckless...
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