Monday, May 14, 2007

Going nuts

Aaaaagggghhhh ! ! !

Okay, maybe I can think a bit more rationally now. Or maybe not. We'll see.

I planted petunias and impatiens yesterday afternoon and evening. But I didn't buy and plant them until I had ordered "Shake Away," a granular product composed of fox urine, which I was assured would repel squirrels without harming them or the plants or anything else.

Unfortunately, not until I had the product in my hand and could read the label did I learn that it might take up to two weeks to become effective, with repeated applications.

In two weeks, my flowers might be no longer viable. I had to get them in the ground.

So I planted them, and shook the fox urine around in hope that "effective" might mean the squirrels would have learned to stay away for good. And that up until two weeks, they might keep coming around, but would back off from the scent of a predator.

I came home from work today to check on the flowers and to finish planting the ones I didn't get to last night.

I should have taken a picture of my flower bed. It looked like a war zone on a small scale. If you remember the photo from last year, it's a small area, a circle with about a five-foot diameter or less. And about a quarter of the area is covered in bricks. So in the part that actually holds dirt, I saw between fifteen and twenty distinct holes. Some of the plants looked as if they'd been fighting for their lives.

And I thought I must have miscounted my petunias, because one spot was clearly empty--until I noticed that one entire plant had been dug up and carried, dragged, or perhaps thrown (?) five feet away from the bed!

I had in previous weeks noticed pansies that looked as if they'd been intentionally uprooted and tossed out of their pots. My first impulse was to shout imprecatory things at the creatures up in the trees, unable to believe their nerve. But then I thought they couldn't be actually uprooting the plants on purpose. My anger was getting the better of me, assigning such intentionality to simple squirrels. Of course, they were just digging around and happened to kick the plants out.

Tonight assured me that they were intentionally removing the plants. And I'm afraid I would have continued my anthropomorphizing, letting myself think they were doing it just to show they could, or because they took some glee in watching me lose my cool every time I walked out on to the porch. Or perhaps even to get me back for not filling the birdfeeders for two weeks, thus cutting off their food supply.

That may actually be somewhat true. My neighbor came out, and I lamented and asked his advice. He recommended a pellet gun or bb gun, which I just can't quite see myself employing. But he also informed me that squirrels will dig up plant to eat their roots.

And since the squirrels stuck in the city have no natural enemies to speak of--well, our dog Tosca has killed a few, but she is confined to the back yard--their population is out of control, and there is not enough food for them all. That's my neighbor's theory. Oh, and the red hawk that lived around here last year has not been seen lately.

I don't know. I just know that they have been driving me crazy.

Okay, as a trained counselor, I know they can only drive me crazy if I let them. In fact, I was actually taking deep breaths and telling myself to calm down a half hour ago, as I stood out there surveying the damage!

I'm going to Plan B, which involves a trip to the hardware store for "hardware cloth," a fine type of wire that I'm told should keep them out.

And maybe in two weeks the fox urine will become effective.

Which doesn't encourage me anymore, because I also read tonight that it only works for a while, until the squirrels get used to it and figure out there's no real fox around. . .

Sigh. . . Anybody got any other ideas? This is getting to be much more work than it ought to be, I think. But if I don't get those flowers covered tonight, I will lose money and time already spent. Not to mention that the flowers can't fend for themselves. I brought them here, I feel a responsibility to protect them!

I also have a responsibility to be at chorus rehearsal right now, but I'm not. I'm on my way to the hardware store. Lives depend on it.


Carolinagirl said...

Oh no, I'm so sorry that those critters are ruining your artwork. I don't have any ideas to help you. :0(

I went house hunting this weekend near my new duty station and found THE perfect house. Oh my goodness, does it ever have a huge yard that will take me 2-days to mow with nothing more then a push mower. It's a corner lot. The sellers had beautfully landscaped the front and I so much look forward to maintaining it. I have missed the space & time to plant and care for flowers.

Happy gardening and may those critters leave your flowers alone.

Sheila said...

Wow, I really bled all over my blog here! Didn't realize it was so long! Thanks to all who actually read it....

Carisse said...

Here's info on your mystery plant!


Gioietta said...

Oh, She! I am so sorry! I didn't realize that planting flowers was that much work. I usually like squirrels but now you have painted a very mischievous and obviously immature picture of these creatures of the trees.
Hoping they come to their sense and behave like good little squirrels!