Monday, July 21, 2008

Garden Wars, Episode IV: The Squirrels Strike Back

At first I thought the squirrels were kind of cute and I didn't mind so much if they nibbled on the bird seed that fell from the feeder (as long as they didn't try to get to the feeder). But then we planted a garden and planted herbs in pots on the porch.

The squirrels dug seeds out looking for a tasty snack. Later, they dug through our potted plants, looking for bird seed that might have fallen in the pots. I suspect they're responsible for some of our bean plants that were dug up. We've had bird netting over our whole garden almost the whole time which has kept the squirrels out.

When the garden was getting too big we took the netting off. Within days we lost a plant or two and I saw little excavations in different areas of the garden. The netting went back up! This time we wrapped it around the garden, clipping it to the fencing at the bottom and securing it at intervals a couple feet up all around the garden. This way we can still step in or reach in to the garden to harvest and weed. But - I hoped - a squirrel sauntering up to the garden might think it was fenced off again. And it worked.

Until today. I was chatting with Toby in the kitchen and something in the garden caught my eye. I saw a squirrel crawl up a bit of fencing, over the bird netting, and slip into the squash patch. Still wearing rubber gloves from doing the dishes, I dashed out the door and commanded the squirrel to get out of the garden! He held still and acted like I couldn't see him. But I did see him and I started running around to chase him out. Kind of a mistake: he freaked out. He ran for it right into the side of bird netting and got tangled up. I unclipped one side of netting and propped it up so he could get out and Toby and I started trying to herd him out. He was running back and forth through the garden, bouncing off the net walls, getting tangled horribly, wrenching himself free, and doing it again. He finally found the escape hole and shot out. I felt slightly bad for the fright he'd had, but even so, as soon as he stopped - just outside the garden - I ran after him and chased him up a tree. I hope he tells his friends what a bad idea it is to visit our garden!

Some of you may not realize how un-Quakerly my attitude has become toward squirrels. I really think there are too many of them and the population must be culled. Apparently there use to be a neighbor who would shoot them with a bb gun - and another who caught them with live traps, and then shot them. I'm starting to think that sounds like a good pasttime to pick up. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to run over squirrels in their vehicles and I smile when I see squirrel road kill. (I know - it's so awful sounding!)

I understand from my mother that one of my favorite meals growing up was fried squirrel. Perhaps it's time to bring back that tradition...

4 comments:

@bdul muHib said...

Well, as I understand it, you are planting the garden in part to save expenses. And it strikes me you can kill two birds with one stone here. There is something rather unQuakerly about harassing an animal for no reason; there is something very Quakerly, in terms of saving and simplicity if you kill two squirrels with one stone. Consider it Aimee- Squirrel on a Stick sounds rather nice, with some good herbs. Maybe a side of fava beans...

Aimee said...

You're right of course. And we've certainly talked about it. But then again - these are city squirrels who mostly eat trash. So I'm a little dubious. Now country squirrels, that's a different matter...

@bdul muHib said...

Now, now, I can't tell you how many times I've looked lustfully at the pigeons in the city, contemplating a good sweet pigeon pastilla pie- and this despite their rampid tumors!

Mom said...

Well, if they have been eating bird seed and stuff out of your garden, they should taste all right. I think spraying plants with pepper spray (homemade) will keep them away. some companies treat their seed with peppers to discourage the critters.

Mom