One of our indigent boarders has reached an age where he can read. He has taken to reading Captain Underpants graphic novels when he’s not busy working. He works about as much as our cat, so I find these novels strewn throught the house. Most recently I happened upon Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets right beside our toilet. They’ve joined legos as one of the most common objects to trip over or step on in the house. A few indigent boarders can sometimes act like garden pests: a nuisance, but the garden wouldn’t be the same without them. Then there are varmints.
Varmint is a colloquial version of the more standard term “vermin" and brings me to my subject.
The domestic unit recently returned from camping in the Adirondack Mountains. Upon our return, I headed out to the garden. The corn had been decimated: every single remaining ear had been fully stripped of kernels.
I cursed the birds, who have been a significant problem these last few years, but as I moved in closer to assess the damage, the actual offender lept into view before bounding across the yard: a gray squirrel. Blasted varmint! or vermin! I’ll get no more corn this year.
Once a squirrel has found corn, he won’t rest until he’s eaten it all. Next year I can try some scare tactics, like coyote urine or hot pepper spray. I could maybe put up a scarecrow or some blow-up owls, but I imagine the squirrel will catch on. One can’t really build a fence high enough to keep out squirrels.
Only the tactics used by organized crime work with varmints: “Tony I need you to whack that squirrel.” The only time I ever considered violence was after a groundhog cleared out my garden two years in a row. I do not intend to go this way with the squirrel. Instead I will plant my corn in a different spot, use some scare tactics and try to hang around the corn plants looking menacing.
Speaking of squirrel hunting, I’ve heard that a certain former governor who is now running for president is an avid varmint hunter. He insists he didn’t go after big game, just varmints. That is, small game. According to an article in The Lancet from 1997 Crutzfeld-jacob disease, a human disease similar to mad cow disease, has been linked to eating squirrel brains. I’m not saying that this presidential candidate is off his rocker, just that he should be careful not to eat varmint brains.
The one consolation in all of this is that an all-corn diet is not good for squirrels. They need the amino acid mix they get in nuts and the like. I hope he gets fat, has a heart attack, and dies.