This is war! - Gardening nut vs. squirrel

Gardening is a passion - and my therapy. Nothing is better for getting the old creative juices flowing than to spend a few hours out playing the dirt. Once I'm away from the computer, the design "brain farts" seem to come at me from all directions. The added result of my therapy sessions is our home being referred to by many in North Portland with the comment, "Oh, you live in the house with THE garden." With help from our friends at Joy Creek Nursery our garden does literally stop traffic on the street in front of our house.

Since moving into the house, my partner Ed and I have been engaged in an on-going battle with the neighborhood squirrels. They tease us from the trees, fence and rooftops - and have been known to drop pinecones and other items on us as we walk outside. In fact, last night - while we were having dinner on the patio, a squirrel dropped a pinecone from a tree and it bounced off the patio table umbrella into Ed's lap. You could hear the creature laughing from above. One morning I looked out the window, while on the phone with Ed, to see two of the critters on the peak of our garden shed roof taking part in a mating activity that made it look as if we had a live animal whirly-gig. The varmints plant walnuts and acorns in my flower beds, and move bulbs wherever they wish. We have noisy squirrel races from our garage, to the dogwood tree, and with a flying leap continuing across the roof of the house on a path to the neighborhood park full of tall evergreen trees. Ed refers to it as the "squirrel freeway."

We do attempt to fight back - or at least tease the furry little beasts. Ed chatters right back, chases them with the garden hose at full blast, and shakes the dogwood tree in some kind of game he has with the squirrels. A couple of them will make all kinds of noise until Ed comes out in the backyard garden to play with them. This summer we have yet to get out the "super soakers" for squirrel target practice as they zip back and forth on the top of the fence bordering the back of our property.

I will admit I now get a great deal of pleasure repeatedly seeing distraught, confused squirrels, standing on their haunches on the new paver patio, looking all around for the lawn in which nuts had been buried the previous year. They kind of have an "Oh, my God - what's happened here? I know I buried the stash in this location" kind of look on their faces.

Ed proclaims to all that he hates the squirrels. However, truth be told, earlier this year he actually nursed one back to health. One night he arrived home from work, walked in the house and told me I had better shut the garage if door I didn't want a "furry rodent" setting up home in it. Closer inspection revealed that the young squirrel in question was injured, as if it had fallen from a tree. A bit later I ran into Ed as he headed out the back door with a dish of water, a couple small carrots and a handful of walnut halves. He was going to feed the thing!!! It had taken up refuge in a basement window well and for several days Ed made sure it was cared for properly. The next weekend we took a trip out of town and, upon our return, our new little patient had moved on. Ed has since told me he's seen the squirrel, with its unusual facial markings, around the garden.

Our squirrel situation has not gone unnoticed by friends. One in particular, Brett - the "evil devil pig friend from hell," has taken a great deal of joy in our squirrel battles. For several years we've received all kinds of lovely squirrel-related gifts that he has found at garage sales and thrift stores. A few years ago he started leaving little plastic squirrel statuary artistically located in our garden when we were out of town. Over the years I've left them in place - although I could only find four of them this morning to photograph for this bLog-oMotives entry.

Visitors always ask about the tiny garden ornaments and I have to tell the whole "evil devil pig friend from hell" story. I hadn't even thought about the plastic squirrels when Mike Darcy came to shoot an episode of his television show, In The Garden, in our garden. Of course, he zeroed in on the fake critters and an explanation was required.

This whole long story has been necessary to explain why I have declared war on the squirrels this Independence Day.

Four times in the last ten days I have walked outside to one of the plastic squirrels laying on its side on the driveway or paver path to the front porch. I think one of the local squirrels is trying to "violate' its counterpart of the resin variety. My drip water line has also been yanked out of the flower bed on each occasion, as has a poor battered Saxifraga umbrosa 'Variegata'. Compost is always scattered everywhere. It happened again this morning (see photo at top of blog entry) - and now I'm ticked off.

I repositioned the drip line and secured it with metal prongs. The soil was put back in place and a new Saxifraga replaced the now dead previous plant. My little plastic squirrel was put back where he belongs - and I then sprinkled cayenne pepper powder all around the area.

That should light up the damn squirrel's Fourth of July if he tries any funny stuff. Let the games begin...

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


Juggling Jason said...

Cayenne pepper huh? I tried that. On the bird seed. Birds are immune to capsicin. That squirrel got a surprise but he just kept coming back for more. I think he was ended up liking it!

Let us know how it works out.

Peter said...

Did you want to borrow my cat, Jeff? She'll just stay indoors and yowl at them menacingly from the window.

Hilarious entry - I'm not sure who to pity more - you and Ed or the squirrels!

Shayla said...

We tried habenero powder, but our squirrels eventually got used to it. One gardener/bird lover rigged her birdfeeder with a slinky and when the squirrels jumped onto the pole to get at the seeds, they were pitched a good distance by the slinky and she got in a good vengeful cackle of victory. Best of luck

Stephen Tiano said...

Not for nothin', Jeff, but my raccoons--somehow getting under a bungie cord that keeps a garbage pail lid on--may just trump your squirrels. I mean, picking up garbage that's been gone through by—I assume—a wild animal that carries all kinds of pestilence, has got to be farther down the warpath. Let PETA defend that!

Jake said...

That was a great post Jeff! Squirrels are evil...plain and simple. They destroy any bird feeder around...even metal ones. Chew right threw the metal. So I totally understand. We have a neighbor who feeds them. Crazy fool!! I too caught a couple enjoying themselves and I guess that's why there are so many in the neighborhood.

My plan...get rid of the neighbor in my case. Might actually be easier. Ha!

Good luck and let us know how it goes.