May 27, 2015
This is our garden.
We have sage, a batshit amount of parsley, two pots of chives, and a big mishmosh of rosemary, thyme, dill, and marjoram.
Beans, bush tomatoes, and peas.
Two sacks of potatoes.
Delicious little radishes.
Tons of not-quite-ripe strawberries that are straight-up torturing my children.
Cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets...
...and a fucking squirrel trap.
Squirrels became a big problem for us last year. We were super-ambitious and planted about twice what we have this year. They ate every single tomato. We'd go outside and find our big, gorgeous heirlooms lying in the dirt, half gnawed on. If there weren't any tomatoes, they went after strawberries, squash, melons...whatever else they could wring a little liquid out of on dry, sunny days.
It was just two squirrels in particular. One had a bald spot on its butt and one had lost the tip of its tail. We named them Asshole and Stumpy. We'd see them on the fence and send Ceiba out to yap at them, but they'd immediately come back when the coast was clear.
We tried everything. Those bobble-headed owl statues, special repellent sprays and predator scents, offering water and food on the OTHER side of our fence, and probably a million other things, because Jason went seriously Caddyshack over the squirrel problem and I had to stop paying attention so one of us could stay sane for the sake of the children.
There was talk of a BB gun at one point, but I knew that would never actually happen: Jason is a giant softie who uses humane mousetraps and takes bugs outside instead of squashing them at my (panicked) request.
So we got the trap. We got one just small enough that Ceiba couldn't set it off, then smeared peanut butter on the underside of it, and jammed it between the deck and Ike's Cozy Coupe so they couldn't flip it over and cheat. Within a week, we'd caught both of the trouble-making squirrels (and a really dumb raccoon, who got his ass stuck in there multiple times) and relocated them a few miles away.
(I pointed out to Jason that we probably orphaned and doomed a nest of baby squirrels and at first he was like, GOOD, and then tried to reason that it was late enough in the summer that the babies were probably old enough to survive on their own la la la STOP MAKING ME HAVE FEELS FOR THE FUCKING SQUIRRELS.)
This year, the trap was set the same day we planted the very first seeds. We were not fucking around.
Sure enough, I found a couple green strawberries in the container with little rat-like bites out of them. IT WAS HAPPENING. PUT MORE PEANUT BUTTER ON THAT THING.
Yesterday I found this:
So I should clarify that last year, the trap was totally Jason's sole domain. It wasn't even a question: Asshole and Stumpy had eaten that man's prized tomatoes and he was going to PERSONALLY put a stop to their reign of garden terror. He'd hold the trap aloft triumphantly while I snapped a photo from a safe distance, then he happily put it in the car trunk and drive them off to places unknown.
In other words, I did not know how to Deal With This Situation.
I texted Jason and told him we'd caught a squirrel. He was delighted. "Little fucker," he texted back.
He said I could either wait for him to get home or drive it somewhere myself. I chose Option A and went back inside.
Five minutes later, the guilt trip started.
UGH OK RIGHT BACK AT YOU, HUSBAND.
At this point I had to admit that I didn't even know how to open the trap, and also have a very very very real and true THING about dealing with trapped wild animals who thrash and flap and panic (see: mouse in my Gladware, bird in my house). Sure enough, I tentatively picked up the trap, the squirrel lost his shit and started hurling his body around as I involuntarily shrieked and dropped it back on the lawn.
This was a very small squirrel, probably not even fully grown, so it seemed to be able to get an AWFULLY LOT OF ITS TEETHY RATFACE through the spaces in the trap. I decided to put my gardening gloves on, just in case, and carried it around front to my car, holding it as far from my body as possible.
When I got to the car I realized I didn't even have my keys, so I had to leave it there in our parking spot, praying that none of our neighbors arrived home at this point to witness me, wearing a sundress, wedge heels and gardening gloves, loading a caged squirrel into the back of our minivan like oh hey yeah we're not weird at all I mean at least we got rid of the tire?
(I'm not sure who is more to blame for the blurriness of this photo, Thrashy McRatface or Mrs. St. Chihuahua Hands.)
I drove a few miles away until I could find a deserted parking lot/tree line combo, while the stupid thing continued to panic, poop and make velociraptor noises at me. Nothing about this felt particularly humane in the moment, but soon I parked and set the trap down in the grass and aimed the opening at some nearby trees.
And then. Um. Okay.
I could not get the trap open. The thing I thought opened the trap didn't, and with the squirrel hurling its body around every which-way I was hesitant to put my hands just ANYWHERE and start yanking at things. I had to call Jason and get a detailed walkthrough on opening the trap, which VOILA, mission accomplished and Thrashy McRatface bolted out at top speed and up the nearest tree. It paused to chatter at me one last time (probably casting some squirrel voodoo curse) and then disappeared.
Behold, last night's glorious harvest:
Hey, it's already two more tomatoes than we got last year.
I gave them both to Ezra, because they're his favorite.
Looks like we'll have a few more tonight, plus some peas.
(Peas are Noah's favorite.)
Anyway, point is, I know how to open the squirrel trap now and will gladly do it again because fuck those assholes, I am in the mood for some damn caprese salad.