Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Squirrels Suck

- by John Hasquin

Black Walnut Sprout

I live in a suburb that has been established for over 40 years. The neighborhood consists of mostly older custom brick homes that are well kept. There is also the neighborhood Gestapo that ensures everyone complies with the appearance rules. With the age of our neighborhood there are lots of mature trees throughout. Several of those mature trees happen to be in my back yard. I have a River Birch, Alder, Red Bud, Crabapple, and two Black Walnut trees. It is the Black Walnut trees that have been cause the most ruckus.

 Last year the thoughts of sweet orange meat watermelons danced in my head every night. I reviewed all my heirloom seed catalogs. I did a ton of research and decided that the Orangeglo Watermelon was the one I wanted. I prepared sprouting containers for the seeds; I placed the seedlings carefully in rich seed starting soil. I watched for weeks as they grew bigger and bigger. Then came the time for me to harden them off by sitting them out every day and bring them in at night. It was a lot of work, but the reward would be worth it.

I rejoiced when the day came to place them in my garden. I placed three beautiful Orangeglo plants in individual mounds and gave them a healthy drink. I watched over them for the next week. Then it happed! I came outside one day to find all three plants ripped from the life giving earth, all dried up and shriveled. The first thought through my mind was SON-OF-BITCH! Who the hell did this? What kind of sick bastard would go to the trouble ripping out all three of my Orangeglo plants?

The investigation would easily identify the perpetrator. What I found was tiny little paw prints and five hulled out Black Walnut shells. These were strewn all around the holes which at one time held my beloved Orangeglos. SQUIRRELS! I shrieked as I grit my teeth together.

So it appears that the squirrels had been using the area I placed my garden as their personal storage grounds. However, I’m still puzzled as to how I managed to plant my Orangeglos directly over five of the squirrel’s buried nuts. Perhaps it was just bad luck. I really don’t know and don’t really care because I was pissed off.

During the rest of the growing season I tended to my other plants and enjoyed the bounty it provided. However, I still felt incomplete because I still longed for my Orangeglos. So, what is a gardener to do about these squirrels? I did the most amusing thing I could think of; I trained my Border Collie to chase the squirrels! Every time I saw a squirrel I would call Sparky (our Border Collie) over and point the squirrel out to him. He would instinctively drop into a low crouching crawl. Once within striking distance I would yell out “Get’em!” and he would break into a sprint giving that squirrel the run of his life. We would all laugh as the squirrel would damn near shit himself trying to get away. Once the chase was over Sparky would come trotting back overflowing with pride and I would reward him with a nice hard pat on the side followed by a loud “THAT’S A GOOD BOY!”. Soon Sparky was on autopilot and made it his personal mission to run off every squirrel he could find.

I believe this season will be different. I don’t think the squirrels will be back this year for their nuts. I believe this because I found some very interesting things in my garden as I was turning over the soil for the first time this season. Yep, those are Black Walnuts sprouting. I unearthed them and it put a big smile on my face. I know squirrels sometimes forget where they bury their nuts, but not twenty of them! Yes, I uncovered about twenty of these half sprouted nuts in my garden area. To me this means the squirrels have given up on retrieving their nuts in my yard.

So what’s next? Well, my sister will be planting Orangeglos this year in her garden. That frees me up to add additional variety this year. I’ll be planting Emerald Gem Melons and we will swap melons with each other. I think it will be a good garden year, don’t you?

So long for now and keep your hoe on the ground.


John Hasquin

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