I thought of a few different titles for this post:
Never say, “never.”
It’s Us or Them.
The One True Downside to Living in the Country.
In the end, I went with how this incident made me feel.
I did something yesterday that five years ago, I thought I would never do.
I’ve been posting about our time with our deck garden this year. We container garden on the deck for many reasons, one of them being the theory that the many wild animals we try to live in harmony with will not come that close to Our Little House to munch our veggies.
It worked until this year, presumably because of the drought.
First, what we thought was a rat decimated my roma tomato plant earlier in the spring, took it right down to nubs. We got some rat zappers and started trapping the wood rats (some people call them pack rats) on the deck at night.
As the plant promised to make a full recovery, we began noticing our cucumber plants disappearing.
I had four of them planted in a long pot; they were huge, healthy and full of blooms. Last Friday, I came home and what was left of them was completely obliterated and the culprit was sitting on the deck munching away.
It wasn’t a rat at all, but that cute squirrel that has been avoiding our dogs and living in the nearby woods behind the house.
Once he was done with the cucumber plant and there was nothing left, he came for the jalapeno peppers and tomatoes over the weekend.
I caught him a couple of times on the deck and shooed him away. I put the fake owls right on the deck rail nearest the tomato plant, he simply hopped around them, no worries of getting eaten, he even knocked the bobble head off one getting to the tomato plants.
Once, he even jumped from the deck onto the tree nearest the house and turned around and sat and looked at me.
“Please,” I pleaded with him, hoping I could somehow communicate with him. “Go away before we have to do something drastic.” That worked as well as the fake black snakes we placed all over the deck, including right in the cucumber plant in hopes of scaring him.
The dogs chased him up a tree a couple of times to no avail; he just waited and came back.
And that mixture of crushed jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic that kept the green horn worms at bay last season? Forget about it. This squirrel actually dug up one of the jalapeno plants and took the whole thing, peppers and all, with him.
I got to the point on Sunday that I was having a hard time sleeping, wondering if my tomatoes were being carted away at that very moment.
Finally, Dale got out the rifle. We hate it; we would rather find ways to live with our woodland neighbors than eliminate them. Dale has only shot three snakes here in five years, all of them too close to the house, poisonous and potentially deadly to our dogs.
Dale couldn’t get a clean shot over the weekend, but I did. On Monday afternoon, I came out of the house, startling the squirrel out of that recovering roma tomato pot. He jumped from the deck onto the ground, where I was able to finally put an end to his pilfering of our veggies.
The kill was clean, instantly to the head, but it didn’t make me feel good. I drive around snakes in the road and capture spiders to let them out of the house alive. I eat little meat and would be a vegetarian if Dale would. It actually made me sick to my stomach.
The words of Rodney King, who died last week, came into my head. “Can’t we all just get along?”
I’m still hoping to find less lethal methods should another squirrel come looking for a free meal, but the whole incident has me thinking about our place and theirs in this serene paradise. Can we all just get along? Not all of the time, I’m afraid.
Have you ever felt you had to kill something to protect yourself or your property?