Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Help or hindrance? (Wednesday Vignette)

The raccoons are back.  They've left pilot holes all over the garden as they continue their relentless quest to remove the grubs from my soil.  The lawn we inherited with the garden is long gone but the grubs aren't so I guess they consume more than just grass roots.  If that's the case, I suppose I should be grateful that the raccoons still pay me regular visits, even if this means that I spend a half-hour several mornings a week filling in the holes they leave behind and replanting any bulbs they uncover.  I notice more empty snail shells and fewer live slugs and snails too, even though I haven't applied snail killer in months.

Like the raccoons, snails leave calling cards.  I found an interesting one this week.

Doesn't that look like a heart?  Was the snail thanking me for providing it with a nice, juicy Agave attenuata leaf?  It's never a positive to find a hole in an agave but it took some of the sting away when the hole looks more like art than vandalism.


The squirrels have also returned.  I left the bird feeders empty all summer and the squirrels virtually disappeared.  But earlier this month, I noticed their sudden return.  Although the bird feeders remained empty, they somehow knew that it was time to harvest the persimmons.  They also seem to think I need more guava trees as they've been planting the unripe guavas they don't eat.  One also thinks I need another lemon tree.  But nowhere have they been more helpful than with my preparations for Halloween.

Like the snail, the squirrel preferred to work on his art in private.  He attempted camouflage when I interrupted him.

He worked on his carving for days.  Who needs Martha Stewart's help in carving pumpkins?


Last year, I placed skeleton rats around my pumpkin and, for a time, they kept the squirrels at a distance.  Or, perhaps that was just a coincidence.  This year, I was unable to find the rats and so left the skeleton cat in charge.  He wasn't very effective.  I found the rats earlier this week and added them to the mix but the squirrel wasn't deterred.

The rats had cleverly hidden in a box

The cat looked more impressive with his rat friends by his side but the squirrel wasn't put off

The human skeleton just lay about doing nothing


But why did I think I could do better decorating the pumpkin than the squirrel?  Really, is there a scarier pumpkin than this one?

Gross, isn't it?  It even has bugs.  Unfortunately, it won't last until Halloween.  It's going in the green bin today for pick-up tomorrow.


When you think about it, it's just a matter of perspective.  Who needs garden fairies when you've got raccoons, snails, and squirrels working for you?  Whether they're a help or a hindrance is all a matter of attitude.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. I wonder if the raccoons are eating the snails? How big do your snails get? I know the raccoons that plague me hunt for slugs amongst my pot ghetto. I LOVE what the squirrel did to your pumpkin. I've only ever carved one pumpkin in my life, and now that I think about it, I would have liked to have a squirrel's sharp teeth to do it. That skeleton sitting on the bench makes me kind of sad. It looks like a child. Maybe you should put some (fake) candy in its hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The raccoons definitely eat the snails. They can be quite delicate about it, often leaving nearly intact shells behind. If that was all they did, I'd have huge "Raccoons Welcome Here!" signs up. Despite it's size, I've never thought of the human skeleton (made of plastic) as a child. I usually hang it from the chandelier over the dining table - maybe that would look less sad?

      Delete
    2. I think my reaction may have been colored by the fact that I read your post not long after reading an article about a one-month old infant that died of starvation in Syria. The photo accompanying the article was heart-rending. I'm sorry if I put a damper on things.

      Delete
    3. No apology necessary, Alison. Despite the figure's size, it just never occurred to me that it could be seen as a child. It's now hanging on the chandelier, where it looks more like a drunken sailor.

      Delete
  2. Oh Kris... your critter challenges are endless... I have to say though, that pumpkin is as gory as can be. I love it! And I love your skeletal creatures, too. My new addition for this year was two skeleton birds. Very excited about those! As for the child skeletons - I too have some, and had the exact same thoughts the other day. For some reason, a full-sized one would probably have made me feel better. There is something excruciatingly sad about the death of children. Which, I suppose, makes it all the more appropriate for Halloween. Maybe they ate too much candy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband has pointed out that cats and rats don't have ear bones mirroring those shapes - he's a kill-joy when it comes to Halloween. I don't know that the human skeleton was meant to mirror a child, at least I've never seen it that way, but maybe, as mentioned in response to Alison's comment, I'll put it back in its usual spot hanging from the chandelier over my dining table, where it'll look more like the Halloween demon it was meant to be.

      Delete
  3. First of all I LOVE your skeleton collection, they're marvelous. Secondly, I feel your pain. The squirrels are a constant around here and raccoons are not leaving with the change in the weather. I'm going to have to cone up with a ingenious way to cover the stock tank pond next year if I want to have a water garden.

    So will you buy another pumpkin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew that putting a pumpkin outside so far in advance of Halloween was a mistake but I fall prey to those pumpkin displays every year. I wish I could have a pile of them to give the front of the house a bright spot of the autumnal color that otherwise eludes us here but that's an exercise in futility (unless I was to pick up ceramic or other non-edible varieties). I probably won't buy more pumpkins this year. Last year, I picked up one, decorated it with succulents and plunked it on the dining room table but I'm not feeling the inspiration to do that this year.

      Delete
  4. Pesky critters - they always go after the best before you even know it's ripe. I don't even bother trying to pick my blueberries - the birds get them at dawn's first light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get only a very small portion of the blueberries growing in pots near the back door so I know your pain, Eliza!

      Delete
  5. Sigh.

    I have my blueberries in a metal-screened cage. I get them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gave up my veg garden largely because I had to practically bubble-wrap everything out there. As it is, the critters still dig in the raised beds I now use as a floral cutting garden. Fortunately, they mostly ignore the citrus.

      Delete
  6. I never saw a raccoon in my life, they live in some parts in north Argentina but unlike their north american cousins they avoid people and gardens. It's the same with squirrels the local especies rarely enter gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our squirrels are cheeky but they usually run off if people get too near to them. That's not necessarily true of the raccoons, which will often stand their ground when confronted. The latter usually forage at night so the number of confrontations is minimal but we periodically see them in the evening hours. My husband saw one when he was sitting in the outside spa and clapped his hands to send it off, only to have it come right up to the spa, put its paws on the edge, and look in at my husband.

      Delete
  7. You have very artistic pests. Our raccoons are a bit more timid and run off when they see us. I'm hoping that I get to eat my persimmons again this year before the squirrels do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think our squirrels knew the persimmons were ripe long before I did, Peter. Their obvious enjoyment of the fruit almost makes me forgive the theft - I wish I could have captured a photo but they drop the fruit and run when spied.

      Delete
  8. I've been having problems with snails in my Verbascum leaves: what a mess I noticed two weeks ago! So I put those pellets for snails and slugs all around and it seems to have done the trick!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pellets work wonders but the raccoons are generally also very efficient at taking care of the snails here, Libby, and, I prefer their snail hunting activity to their grub search excursions.

      Delete
  9. Hadeda ibis are also delicately refined when they eat snails, but tipping over the small pots and excavating the large ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The raccoons have yet to knock anything over - so far - so I guess I should be thankful for that!

      Delete
  10. I think the squirrels probably did a better job carving the pumpkin than I would have done Kris!!! The raccoons are another thing; they do so much damage in your garden; I would be very fed up with them too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've recognized that the raccoons and I have to reach a peaceful compromise. I saw one wandering through the garden again just last night...

      Delete
  11. Those skeletons are so cute! I'm sorry to hear the raccoons are back. They dig in my yard and garden sometimes and it'd be really annoying and destructive if they did that all of the time and all over.

    The squirrel really did a number on that pumpkin! His or her work kind of fitted with the Halloween theme I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've decided that it's time for me to make peace with the raccoons and squirrels, sweetbay, although that doesn't mean I don't send them packing when they have the temerity to trespass right in front of me. It's amazing how persistent squirrels can be when it comes to pumpkins - it must be a delicacy in their minds.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions!