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We are very fortunate to have cats, chickens and a toddler in our lives. In our garden and in the woodland behind it, we occasionally see deer, squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys and many types of birds that either live in the woods or pass by. But it seems that the only animal that we did not intentionally acquire, but made a lovely home in our garden, is a chubby groundhog we named Bennet.

Bennet pops up from time to time to eat the grass, the flowers and, if lucky, the vegetables we grow. He’s a monastic and a very skittish fellow who can easily be scared away with every unfamiliar move by us or by Asher, our son. Surprisingly he doesn’t seem to be scared by the chickens when we let them outside the run, or by Itzik, our outdoor black and white cat. Bennett claimed his own property in the old root base of what used to be a gigantic oak tree, which by now has been reduced to hardly anything but a few loosely formed root remains.

The old oak was surrounded by a mount of stones that in my imagination resembled a castle. Recently, after I found a few discarded citronella torches I staked them in the ground around the castle and told Asher that these were the towers for Bennett’s castle.

So after all this fairy tale buildup, I felt that I had to make Bennet’s domain official. I decided to use a reclaimed Wood board and print on it the name ‘Bennet’ and hang it in front of the castle.

On a sheet of thick paper I drew a banner and inside it the letters of the groundhog name. Then I cut off each of the letters, placed the template on the board, and sprayed it with cream color paint. After the paint dried, I removed the template and hang the board on a metal garden ornamental post that I found (yet again) in a neighbor’s free stuff pile.

Let’s hope that our little woodchuck friend appreciates the effort.

P.s. The deer candle holder and the two black candles were also a “Curb find” from two different occasions.

– Yoav Liberman

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