Garden undergoes a Chipmunk funk – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm

EMPTY NEST- BY CURT SWARM

I did not know that chipmunks, also known as “squinneys,” can destroy a garden. They’re so cute and, I thought, harmless. Oh, they leave holes in a yard, and chase each other around like life is a lark and, “What is summer for?”
We’ve always had a few squinneys, and they keep Buddy agitated when they invade his outdoor pen. They’ve even made the mistake of nesting in Buddy’s pen. Go figure. Buddy couldn’t believe his good fortune. Neither could I when it came to taking the critter away from Buddy so he could come in the house. He didn’t heed to, “Drop it! Buddy, drop it!” The vet tells us to take things like that away from him—squirrels, rabbits and road kill—it gets stuck in his gut, then it’s a big vet bill.
This must be a good year for squinneys. There are hundreds of them, nesting in our yard. I’m not exaggerating. I can look out over the yard anytime and see a half-a-dozen of the varmints running around doing chipmunk stuff, like “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Which I could have lived with. Except when it came to the garden.
I need to back up and explain that we’ve had a testy time with the garden this year. Every year is different. First of all, we thought we were real smart in getting the garden in early, like the first of May. Bam, along comes a frost and wipes out our tomatoes and peppers, even though we had them covered.
So, we replanted. Then the tomato plants all turned yellow and began dying off. It may have been due to the herbicide I applied to the driveway. But the pepper plants weren’t affected. Or it might have been because of the composted sheep manure I tilled into the garden. But the pepper plants weren’t affected. Or it might have been due to the nearby corn field being sprayed. But once again, the pepper plants weren’t affected. Whatever!
I planted tomatoes for the third time.
Then I noticed where the bodacious sweetcorn was coming up, there were little pock marks in the soil, and the sweetcorn plants were destroyed. Something had dug up the plants and eaten the seeds! What in tarnation? Squinneys! Same thing for the green beans, pumpkins, cucumbers and acorn squash. However, I noticed with chagrin that the cornfield right beside our garden wasn’t touched. Jump’n Jehoshaphat, what’s going on?
We were very upset—in a chipmunk funk—and in a quandary about what to do, if anything. It’s the old story of Man Against Nature. I had never seen a garden destroyed by chipmunks. Ever. Yes, the rabbits chewed off all the Detroit Red Beets, but that’s rabbits, and not a big deal. I could sacrifice a few beets—who needs’m? But the whole crop of sweetcorn? I came very close to throwing in the towel and turning the garden over to grass.
I’m an ex-drunk, and real stubborn, or hard headed. Ask Ginnie. I tilled up what was left of the bodacious sweet corn and replanted. Basically, the whole garden was planted three times. Our early May garden became a late June swoon.
And I’m not going to tell you what we did to solve the squinney problem. All I’ll say is those live animal traps work real well, especially with a “relocation contingency.”
Some good news: almost immediately after planting the tomato plants for the third time, a blossom appeared, followed by a tiny tomato. There is hope. I thoroughly enjoy watering the garden early in the morning and witnessing God’s precious world, and stopping by the garden after checking the mail to see what surprises await. Hopefully, no more pock marks.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

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