I used to think squirrels were cute.
But last year we had a ridiculous number of run-ins with wildlife on the deck, most notably squirrels and raccoons. The raccoons were scary, but the squirrels were the real menace. Our first squirrel ate a football-sized hole in the screen door and chewed the fabric off several of our chairs. A family with at least three babies moved in under our deck boards, and later into the chimney, and began to eat all of our minuscule crop of tomatoes. Trying to fight back in our feeble human way, we called animal control and were told that we should trap and relocate them to a park 6 miles away and across a body of water. After much trial and error, we became reasonably adept at said trapping, and relocated about 5 or 6 squirrels over time.
Early this spring we had another family of squirrels living somewhere in the vicinity. Three acrobatic baby squirrels grew up on our slippery railing, and watching them falling off every other minute could really make it difficult to get any work done. But happily, just around the time that we were ready to set the plants out, all the squirrels disappeared, and we hadn’t seen another one since. We were a bit confused about how we got so lucky, but we decided not to look a gift squirrel in the mouth.
Sadly, our luck has run out. A new squirrel has arrived, and he’s a Wily one. He appears to be responsible for the tomato bite, and has since eaten all 3 heirloom tomatoes before they were even close to being ripe. This is really sad, since the tomato plants haven’t fared very well, and I’m not sure if I’ll get another one. There is one little guy still surviving – think he has a chance of making it?
The squirrel has also eaten at least 2 or 3 cucumbers, and there are only a couple left on the vine. I’m optimistically hoping I’ll get to them first – it’s so aggravating to feel so outgamed by a little rodent! Perhaps his superpowers come from his extremely healthy diet. He also ate some of the last green zucchini, and another giant hole in the screen, which seems to be purely vindictive, since he has never come inside (that we know of!).
We set the trap again, but he seems wise to our ways. Either that or he prefers vegetables to the peanut butter on a cracker that we’ve been using as bait.
We did, however, manage to catch a purely innocent bystander.
He seemed fine though, and flew away happily when I opened the door.
Elsewhere, things are starting to die back in the heat, but I picked one more crop of zucchini, mainly yellow ones now:
My brilliant and thoughtful sister just gave me a well-timed present of The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, which will come in extremely handy since after the last batch of zucchini bread, chocolate chip pecan zucchini bread, lemon-zucchini muffins, and oatmeal-zucchini brownies, I was running out of ideas!
Although the zucchini plants are really struggling now, it seems like I may still get one last harvest – I was amazed to see this little bunch growing amidst all the dead leaves.
The eggplants are looking fat and shiny, and a bunch of better bush tomatoes are still green enough to have escaped squirrelly attention.
And of course, the requisite watermelon update:
And since I was feeling sad about the summer winding down, here’s a hardy hibiscus that followed me home from the nursery. It’s called pinot noir, and its blooms are about 8″ across!
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.
~Henry David Thoreau