The cougar in a woodchuck trap

What does a person use to bait a woodchuck?

"I hear they like broccoli," the farm store merchant suggested.

I bubbled: "How about cake?"

I'll stop at Hannaford, which is a grocery mart like a Shaw's, except where I'm from in Morrisville, Vt., we call it Hanafffffford's, cause the roadside sign's letter 'f' is always blinking.

I'll buy some broccoli and have my new Have a Heart trap baited before ol' Chucky makes his morning Dunkin' Donuts run."

The extremely friendly farm store merchant nodded a nod he wished to seem affirming. But my hunch revealed his nod held an underlying, I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it, tone. Dink.

Farm merchants work 12-hour days shuffling around musty old grain buildings armed with scads of pet and weed-food information they're itching to unload on anyone who has time to spend on the pretense of giving a crap.

One wonders how these merchants sustain interest in gentleman farm products year in and year out without maintaining numerous sorted hobbies on the side; like throwing all-nude Thursday night tea parties with 4-H award winning giant size gourds as guests or catching lightning bugs in their mouth, until they've caught enough the tips of their ears start to glow.

Extremely friendly? Maybe. But look beyond the rolled to mid-forearm sleeves of their flannel shirts and the perfectly faded well-worn Carhart workpants-what you'll come to realize is farm store merchants are no more friendly than the rest of us.

Oh, yeah? He'll believe it when he sees it? Well he can pound peat. I'll show these farm store geeks who can trap. I'll bet not an hour passes between setting the trap, Chucky surfacing, then catching a whiff of the locally grown organic store bought broccoli I got him and walking into the trap to nibble.

CHA-CHING, down'll fall the trap flaps along with any need for Chucky worrying I'm going to shoot him, or me worrying my home will be chewed to bits, bit by bit. I think I might even, after five years in my home, do some plantings without fear they'll end up nine hundred dollar Woodchuck chum.

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