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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Squirrel war

  • This past winter and spring I’ve found myself in the strange process of becoming an avid naturalist. One thing that’s struck me is how grateful squirrels are for easy handouts.
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  • This past winter and spring I’ve found myself in the strange process of becoming an avid naturalist. One thing that’s struck me is how grateful squirrels are for easy handouts.
     
    The natural world teaches us about hoarding as a basic survival strategy that is common across the animal world. The squirrel is looked upon with amusement when he is seen scampering across yards burying nuts in hopes to avoid going hungry in the future.
     
    The problem, according to several articles on the Internet, is that the grey squirrel is a bit thick and while instinct drives him to bury as many nuts as possible, a bigger problem is that he can’t remember where he puts the darn things!
     
    Hubby and I delighted in watching the squirrel we affectionately nicknamed Squirrely scurrying across our yard this winter and we began to feed him.
     
    I regret that decision.
     
    Squirrels, or more specifically, grey squirrels, are really quite mad. They will stop at nothing to get nuts and seeds and will chew through steel, plastic, electrical wiring or anything that keeps them from what they regard as tasty little morsels.
     
    Case in point.
     
    One recent morning I opened the curtains to find the little mongrel hanging upside down by his toes from the suet cage stuck to my window, plucking seeds from the suet block and tossing aside the seeds he apparently didn’t like. No remorse or hesitation about the waste, not to mention the flagrant theft.
     
    I shooed him away only to have him come back when I was at work and finish off the suet block in less than a week.
     
    I wasn’t pleased with our new bully-of-the-yard, eating everything and anything except his own corn log, but I didn’t have reason to wage war until recently.
     
    This past weekend Hubby and I planted tomato and pepper plants in our garden. As we were moving the soil around to prepare it for planting, we laughed when we found a few buried walnuts, presumably from Squirrelly, and tossed them into our alley.
     
    Hubby mentioned we should maybe consider purchasing a fence to keep rodents like Squirrelly out. I shrugged off his suggestion saying in the past planting marigolds around the perimeter of the garden has kept predators away for the most part.
     
    Anyway, squirrels like nuts and seeds. They would have no reason to bother a vegetable garden. Right? According to the Internet, the grey squirrel won’t remember he buried a few walnuts in our garden plot.
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    This past Monday when I came home from work Hubby looked sheepish. He explained how he glanced out the window at the garden only to make eye contact with Squirrelly, who froze momentarily with a face full of mud before scurrying away to reveal a freshly unearthed pepper plant. Upon further inspection Hubby found two empty halves of a walnut shell beside a six-inch deep hole where the pepper plant used to be.
     
    “I think he gave you a proverbial squirrel finger,” Hubby said after he showed me the crime scene.
     
    I stomped and yelled and shook my fist at Squirrelly while he sat nearby and laughed and chattered with his buddies.
     
    This definitely means war.
     
    Friends and family have many creative suggestions. The best idea, supplied by my dear son, was to sit in the yard all day with a BB gun and have at it. Others delighted in reminding me that I shouldn’t underestimate the ingenuity and determination of a squirrel.
     
    Hubby and I talked strategy. We needed a program to counter the awesome squirrel threat with measures that were defensive. What we need is a strategic defense initiative for our garden.
     
    In the middle of our strategic planning discussion the lights blinked several times– making us wonder if the insurgents were mad and taking their frustration out on our wiring.
     
    We haven’t come up with a definitive strategy yet, but we decided to go with peace-keeping measures to start.
     
    If that doesn’t work, I’ll hire a gun.

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