Sunday, December 02, 2007

Outsmarting some very clever squirrels

There are a lot of big red squirrels in my neighborhood. I don’t know how many because they all look alike to me. Actually, there could just be a couple of very active squirrels. How would I know? Like I said, one big red squirrel looks pretty much like another to me.
Generally, I don’t mind the squirrels. I sometimes get a kick out of watching them; they're so perpetually busy. My feelings toward these twitchy little devils cool each winter though.
I’m one of those guys that waits until the bulbs go on sale 75% off, which is usually just before or after Thanksgiving. I count on the ground not freezing before I can get them into the ground. I buy dozens of tulips, narcissus, daffodils, crocus and tiny colorful things that come up in February.
In late November or early December I get out a tough little spade for the big bulbs and I get down on my knees and drill holes into the ground with an old hand auger for the smallest bulbs. I plant them in groups of three, five or seven, just about anywhere I can an area in our garden that doesn’t already have perennials or bulbs. The smallest, earliest spring bloomers go in my front yard because my wife, Vicky, loves seeing color, even these thumbnail-size flowers that bloom even before the snow is off the ground. They will be spent and gone before the front yard needs mowing.
Several winters ago the foraging squirrels discovered the bulbs I had planted, the sunflower seeds I put out for the birds in our garden not being enough for them. They now can tell just where I plant bulbs regardless of how I try to disguise the sites. Through the course of the winter, they dig them up, generally a couple at a time. The empty holes in the ground give them away. Sometimes I find a bulb on the ground with several bites taken out of it. The squirrels don’t find some of the bulbs tasty enough to finish.
I've finally come up with a plan to thwart the squirrels. I feel pretty clever. I stretch sections of green wire fencing material with a ¾-in mesh that I cut it into rectangles over the areas where I had plant bulbs. You can hardly notice the screen (it's green) in my yard. This spring, after the flowers are poking up out of the soil, I will remove the screening. I think that it will discourage the squirrels from decimating the bulbs I planted. We’ll see. — Ron Hall

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