Monday, July 30, 2007

Theft and a Bit of Vandalism


"Yes, Colin?"

"The worst thing EVER! You gotta come and see!!"

Pictures for you

This, you see, was the prize tomato. Formally the size and shape of Kate Moss's buttocks, nearly red, Colin had been watching it with a mixture of awe and anticipation. See, he was going to get to eat the Butt Tomato.

Well, he was, until whatever-the-hell-it-was-with-teeth-and-a-not-overly-small-jaw took the first bites. Over a few days and many more bites later, the huge tomato dwindled to a mere rotting shadow of itself. Colin was beside himself, "Mom. I'm just going to go out there and kill all of the bugs. They ATE the tomato. They can't live. I'm going to kill them all."

Well first, I had to applaud his zeal in defending the vegetables. Finally, a partner in the War on Bugs. (At least on the bugs that mess with the garden: The Squash Bugs. Also the Cucumber Beetles. But mostly the Squash Bugs.) But then I had to clue him in that the evidence disputed that the chomps were from the mouths of bugs, as there were definite teeth marks (as far as I know, bugs are completely lacking in dentition) and the bites were larger than 3 of the biggest Squash Bugs put together, end to end. Bigger than a tomato Hornworm could manage at the end of the summer. About the size a dog or raccoon or elf would make. Maybe a pixie, if it were a very large pixie.

A couple of days later, looking out the bedroom window, I noticed that the ground squirrel who has his burrow opening just to the west of the garden wall, was playing with a red something. At first I thought it was a piece of red rubber dog toy, but then, after squinting in the binoculars, I realized that he was sitting up on his haunches, chowing down on a tomato the size of his head and torso combined. You can see him below, nearly finished with the booty. (Yes, the photo is crap but my telephoto lens hasn't much tele in its photo and I had to enlarge it oh, so many times. The varmint is sitting up with his back to the right, holding up the tomato fragment, facing to the left, busily eating.)

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Cute bastard.

He supposedly eats bugs, too, so I'm not going to touch him, of course. Suddenly the 'accidental planting' of over 20 tomato plants for the 4 of us seems like not such an absurdly large number.

And that brings us to the abduction of 2 out of 4 foxgloves that I'd planted by a bench to be enjoyed while sitting and gazing out over the pastures.

A few weeks ago, I trotted down to smile at them, and discovered nothing but a perfect, gaping hole where they'd been lovingly planted two months before. It was not like it'd been dug out. There was no dirt spray, such as would be if Molly had taken it out. The hole corresponded exactly to what I'd dug with my little trowel; the plant completely missing. No signs of it having been drug off a little ways. I searched around in the brush and bush but found nothing. I must admit that evidence of digitalis poisoning (vomiting, yellow halos surrounding the objects in one's vision, death) as evidenced by a small furry thing collapsed by a tree (with a dent the size of a small furry head in its trunk), surrounded by its last meal, partially digested, would have done my heart good. But all I found was the second missing foxglove with identical evidence of removal. The two remaining ones just sat there, smiling at me. Maybe they got tired of the banal banter of the 'missing' two and hired the thug deer.

Finally, the week before last, someone seems to have come by and without any warning or by-your-leave, stolen our nice, paved road. Maybe they needed it over in the next county, but we do miss our road and hope they return it soon. Can't imagine what the snow plow will do to a gravel surface. It's already getting nicely rutted. Soon, it will be deeply grooved, what with all the tractors and cattle trailers that use it.

Pictures for you

And the vandalism?

Seems the turkeys took a liking to the late season raspberries but not the kids' slide, taking a large dump all over the platfrom:

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With 8 acres to choose a toilet from, why was this surface so attractive? It's even splintery.

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Blogger Rozanne said...

Another excellent and hilarious post! Although I agree that having a prize tomato gnawed by a ground squirrel is def. the worst thing ever. Poor Colin. I know how he feels!

Def. good that you planted 20 plants. I imagine that the ground squirrel will get pretty damn sick of tomatoes soon and when you've got more than you can handle, you'll actually be wishing a few ground squirrels would help themselves, but will they when you want them to? Nooooooooooo!

2:19 PM  
Blogger listie said...

Excuse me while I laugh at your misfortunes - misery loves company.
(And I never thought to blame the chipmunk for some of the missing flora.)

2:40 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

How infuriating! Hope Colin gets to sink his teeth into the next ripe red juicy tomato!
We don't have any vegetables, (my husband O.D.'s with the flowers!)but there are all kinds of rabbits and squirrels to feed from other people's. And I've noticed that the flower boxes on our two bridges in town are looking sparse! I can't understand the mentality..isn't it their town too?!!

5:26 PM  
Blogger Stepping Over the Junk said...

I cant stop laughing at "butt tomato"! I also like that country road!

7:12 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Rozanne- Yeah, poor kid to have his illusions shattered so young. It was nearly in his grasp. My friend, Ariella, has graciously agreed to come and teach me how to can. I've this really good, easy tomato sauce that uses up tons of tomatoes.

Listie- I thought of your wildlife trials as I surveyed the damage.

Ruth- I can't live without certain home grown foods, although I certainly understand the flower obsession. I don't know if any future tomatoes will compare with the loss of the butt tomato.

Stepping- I think your girls would have laughed their heads off. Nothing like a good anatomy vegetable.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

Well I don't know about you guys, but over here we've got a terrible problem with Pixies nicking veggies.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Ariella. said...

... cucumber beetles? Wha?! I just ate two of those cucumbers, and if I later turn into some type of beetle, I am coming to YOUR house for some answers.

Those damn ground squirrels. They are too cute to use a pellet gun on, and yet... evil. We have a japanese beetle infestation on our plum tree in back, and there were some on the rose bush this morning. This means wars.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Dumdad said...

It's a constant battle in your garden. The squirrel is cute though.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

This was just incredible! What a lot of craziness!
Turkeys, tomatoes, squirrels and roads oh my!

You can't make stuff like that up!

So... chicken wire (pokey side up on top) around the tomatoes and the slide, replant the foxgloves and put a garden gnome by them, then call the county and tell them to do something about the road.

Better... yes?

Best wishes!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

5:27 PM  
Blogger Voyager said...

The tomatoe thief in out houshold is the dog. He eats them right off the bush, green or red.

They gravelled over a paved road? Isn't that going backwards?

7:01 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Kate Moss' buttocks? You're killin' me. I have a side stitch.

And I've long maintained squirrels are evil. Your son can agree with me now.

Anything that makes it seem like my unreasonable paranoias make sense.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

What some city people don't understand is that country life is NOT dull. Sometimes there is almost too much drama. :-)

Before you discovered your ground squirrel, I initially suspected grasshoppers. Last year J had a terrible problem with grasshoppers taking HUGE bites out of her tomatoes. They would take one or two bites out of each one and leave the rest to rot. Is the squirrel at least cleaning its plate?

7:34 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Babs- Oh, no! Funny the regional differences in garden pests.

Ariella- That's just it. Too cute and yet completely evil. I'm thinking we need to import a pack of coyotes from down the road. Come to think of it, I haven't seen the usual haunting of hawks. They need to step up and do their predator job. Hmmmm...Just googled Japanese beetles. Looks like several things work. The insecticide soaps kill on contact. That's a safe form of pesticide. I feel your pain.

Dumdad- Yes. It's always a place of drama.

Scarlet- And I didn't even mention the thug deer. Now, I've got to ask, what is the defensive purpose of the garden gnome? I'm intrigued. Would one of those cut-outs of a woman bending over with her bloomers showing work as well? Next year, I'll put in twice the number of foxgloves I want in hopes of appeasing the gods.

Voyager- You know, I blamed Molly-dog for this as she was found by the tomato remains the next day, but she'd not have eaten it over several days, she'd have chowed it down in a few seconds. She adores tomatoes and raspberries and pretty much everything else.

Jocelyn- Yes. Colin will happily join your anti-squirrel brigade and hold the banner in your parades. Send him a button and he'll canvass door-to-door.

Jamie- Yikes! Massive, scarry grasshoppers like that would have me cowering behind the windows. We've some but they seem to like my roses best. The culprit (although I'm not completely convinced that the damn squirrel took the bites out of the butt tomato, it hangs higher than the squirrel's head, but he might have had help or a ladder) did pretty much finish the job, but whether out of politeness or lack of other ripe tomatoes, I don't know. The 'one bite a vegetable' pests make me hoppin' mad.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Ariella. said...

Normally I wouldn't do this, but seeing as this post is all about your garden, here is the recipe I used to get rid of your (I mean, use up!) zucchini gifts.

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1¾ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans LIBERALLY. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

NB: I used half of that lemon olive oil, and half extra-virgin olive oil. The lemon came through very clearly and was tasty, but it significantly raised the cost of the recipe!

10:45 AM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

A very good and funny post. I loved reading it. So it does seem that you have a Squirzilla" loose on thos 8 acres. But I suppose like you said he has his uses.

Squirrels and rabbits have stopped us from thinking of starting a veggie patch, maybe next year. For now I will experience my bit of rural life thru your blog :)

10:56 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Ok... you got me on the garden gnomes. Until this week I hadn't read ANY of the Harry Potter series, just didn't see the point.
Everyone got on my case and so I said okay... okay.. I'll read them. I was immediately loaned every copy in the series.
I am now halfway through book 2 and there has been a garden gnome incident. They were real though, according to the book.

I'd go with the bent over ladies bloomers if I was you, just for giggles. lots of giggles.

I awarded you with a thoughtful blogger award on my page... please drop by when you get a chance, and pick it up.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

2:17 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Ariella- Thanks for sharing the zucchini bread recipe. Looks very yummy, especially with the addition of chocolate chips. Sadly, that may be the last of the zucchini as da squash beetles seem to be doing their worst, suddenly. And you thought I was over reacting last Saturday.

Sanjay- OK. Next year, you put in a garden and then we get to read all about your trials and laugh. Deal? Seriously, if you are worried about furry critters, you can do lots with chicken wire, as Scarlet says. Or, you can do what I do and plant for you and them. And then grouse about it when they do take their share.

Scarlett- Ohhhhhhh! See, I was stuck in my muggle head. There are more funny gnome bits to come over the books. Now I'm grinning with rememberance. I am unaccountably thrilled when I hear of someone else getting sucked into Harry. It's probably because I love the thought of someone having the same thrill reading the series that I did. You may be wise to have waited until they were all written as you won't have to wait 2 years between books. Thank you for thinking of me. That makes YOU the thoughtful one, doesn't it?

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

It works equally well with zucchini from the store! ;)

8:34 AM  
Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

Dropping in from Dumdad's blog. I'm equally sorry and heartened that I'm not the only one with squirrel issues. Last summer they even came onto my porch and patio and ate all my annuals in pots. My three big hulking dogs couldn't catch one with a motorcycle, so the squirrels just rule the roost. So to speak.

2:33 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Yes! Evil tomatoes eaten by the glorious SQUIRREL! Champion of all those who hate tomatoes!

I am sorry for the tragedy of your loss of the tomato. Really and truly. Hee.

Oh, I am a horrid person, aren't I?

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

I don't think my last comment went through...

I was met last night by 5 (!!) derelict opossums in our back yard and thought of you. I think one had a can of spray paint. After honking my horn at them, they dropped their wine cooler bottles and ran. I will take tomato eating squirrels over opossums any day.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

RC- So delighted to meet you! I hopped over to your blog last night but had to leave on a child-related issue before I could comment, but I'll be back to do so. Molly-dog hasn't caught one but spends much time with her long nose down their holes. Damn varmints.

Dana- Yes, you are truly evil, oh Queen. Do you quake in horror when you hear that I have as many tomato bushes as I have fingers and toes??? Ah, how I love to taunt you.

Kate- Possums are sort of skeevy, with their large rat-like physiques. Did you yell at the delinquents to "stay the hell off your yard"? I hear a hose with a spray nozzle works in a very satisfying way. I'm looking to try it.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Christie said...

Wow, those are some angry turkeys. Suppose they've heard you ate their mom last Thanksgiving? And yes, you just never know what the hell you're going to stumble across with country living.

I suppose bear poop could have been worse....

8:01 PM  
Blogger Jo Beaufoix said...

Hee hee that's so funny.

Visiting from Dumdad's blog too, like Rotten Correspondent.

Cute squirrel, but wow, huge bite.

That's quite scary.

Maybe the squirrel dug up your foxgloves with its huge trowel like teeth.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Jo- Hello and terribly nice to meet you! I wouldn't put it past the little beggars. I can see them out with a small wheelbarrow, giggling evily.

3:49 PM  

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