Squirrels

The Mad Farmer lives in the Midwest, Kansas specifically, and the current bane of my existence are the squirrels in our yard. Where we live we have red squirrels. Slightly Northeast of us there are grey squirrels, maybe they are nicer, I hope so. Sadly the red squirrels are not nice.

Last year we had even more squirrels in the yard but last fall we were able to remove a couple of nuisance trees from our front yard, a sweet gum and a pin oak. Sweet gum trees are are fast growing and horrible tree. The female trees shed seeds in the form of spiky balls of death that you don’t want to step on, are good for nothing I’m aware of and come out from underneath the mower at a high rate of speed and careen into innocent bystanders shins. Literally a tree no one misses. The pin oak had been struggling with some disease and had been sickly the entire time we have lived here. With those trees removed it really opened up the yard and allows a lot more light into the garden.

Why is the Mad Farmer droning on about trees? Who cares? What does this have to do with squirrels? Well, we had a lot more squirrels last year when we still had those trees and for the most part they left my garden alone. The occasional squirrel would dig up an area of the garden and bury a nut or seed but for the most part we lived in harmony. They would sit on the fence and tease my dog. My dog would pathetically attempt to chase them and fail miserably. For the most part it was live, and let live. But after the tree removal incident of 2018 the squirrels were angry. They appear to have resented the loss of habitat, or an escape route or whatever their reasons, they seem to be unhappy.

This year, they are really teasing the dog. They chatter at all hours. They chew limbs off our silver maple and attempt to drop them on my head. And they eat my vegetables! The last part is the really irritating part. I might be Mad but I’m not crazy and this year I started my tomato plants and cabbage and other plants early, under grow lights in our basement. Like you should if you want to start picking tomatoes in June in Kansas. Didn’t start them as early as I should have but did start them in March and had a reasonable crop of young plants ready for transplant after the frost danger had passed. We’ve had very wet and cold spring this year so it took a while before I was able to plant those starts.

Over the last two weeks we’ve had six inches of rain in five days. We’ve had a little bit of intermittent sun. Those plants were digging life. They were growing well. They were putting on height. Then the squirrels started eating everything. Last year, I had issues, squash bugs, heat stroke, sudden storms that flattened crops – lots of problems, but all natural. I hear what you’re saying “Squirrels are natural” – so is arsenic and the plague. But this year the squirrels are eating every single top off my new tomato plants. Eating the pepper plants I bought at the Master Gardener fundraising plant sale. Digging up and chewing my baby cabbage plants. Tearing up my garlic. At this point I am not loving squirrels.

I’m currently in negotiations with Miss Mercy about my squirrel control options. My preferred method of squirrel control she is not loving (it involves the possibility of “shooting your eye out”). I’m not a fan of chemical resolution methods. If anyone has any natural methods of repelling the small, fury, unwanted Uncles of the animal kingdom I’m open to suggestions. Looking forward to hearing options. Have a great day and may all your squirrels be someone else’s problem.

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