Friday, August 15, 2008

Pappas Clan Vs Squirrels

So the gophers in the garden are no longer a big deal....they aren't really bothering the tomatoes or pumpkins or zucchini, and the cantaloupe has already been picked safely (and eaten.  It was good!!).  Now is the time of the year when my attention must be turned to the English walnut tree out the back door.  For the third year in a row, the thing is LOADED with walnuts, and because I am both greedy and cheap, I like to harvest as many walnuts as possible and give them away (usually roasted with cinnamon and sugar) at Christmas time.  The nuts begin dropping sometime in October.  The problem is, the squirrels know and love this tree, so they come out en force to try to steal the nuts before they drop to the ground - last week, actually, which seems awfully early to me, but then again, I don't know how the squirrels' sense of timing works.  So it is yet another war between my team (which includes me, my trusty dog Max, Jason, who just likes to shoot things, and our BB gun) and the varmints (in this case, squirrels).  For those of you who are under the illusion that squirrels are cute, sweet, puffy-tailed little critters, let me just explain that here in Garden Farms, squirrels are flea-laden, horrible-underbite-with-jaggy-teeth, fruit-stealing, disease-carrying rodents and are to be treated accordingly. Here is how the battle is waged:
1.  Squirrels send a representative to test our defenses by sneaking into the walnut tree and, if possible, chewing on the shell of a nut.
2. Max, our faithful sentry, sends out the alarm, which otherwise would just sound like really annoying persistent barking (high-pitched, too).
3. Jason or I respond with "Ooooo, there's a squirrel in the tree!" and run for the BB gun (first person there gets to shoot).
4. Many things can and do happen at this point.  Sometimes the mere presence of all of us will send the wimpy squirrel scurrying off to the next yard.  But sometimes the varmints will freeze, thinking that they become invisible when they do this.  Then the fun really begins for our team .
Okay, let me just say here that my goal is truly not to kill the squirrels.  It's messy.  And when they drop into the yard, the dog gets them, and more than once he has gotten tapeworms from the fleas (yes, squirrels really are that gross).  So my objective is to get them to leave the property and never come back.  I prefer to send them off with a little reminder in the butt (a shiny round metal reminder, if you know what I mean), so our rule for firing the gun is "Aim for the tail".  They are fluffy and make excellent targets.  And it usually works!  Except when we have to leave the house....then the dog is stuck by himself without the ability to fire the gun.  I sometimes imagine a little army of squirrels hiding out by the creek with a lookout saying, "Okay, boys, they're gone!" at which point several come brazenly over the fence, climb the tree and eat nuts to their hearts' content, all the while taunting the dog.  I've returned to the house and seen the evidence of this - mainly nut shells all over the cement.  And an embarrassed-looking Max.  But that's just one battle, and the war for walnuts has just begun..... 


James said...

Apparently, you're not the only one who feels this way about squirrels.

Great to see you're doing well. Can't believe you're raising a high schooler?!

Anonymous said...

you are such a good writer! i loved this story!

Anonymous said...

Walnuts roasted with cinnamon and sugar sounds AMAZING. Please send some our way if you get the chance!! :)