Fledgling Hummingbirds, Baby Squirrels and an Unexpected Pumpkin

I’ve been meaning to update you on the baby hummingbird we rescued in June. You can read the entire story here. After caring for her overnight, I drove the little darling to an animal rescue organization where they immediately placed her in round the clock foster care.  She thrived. Within a few weeks our fully fledged little Ana started her new life in the wild.

hummingbird in homemade nest

Temporarily fostering a baby hummingbird

I think I exhaled out loud once I knew she was okay. Hurray for second chances.

On the subject of second chances, check out this baby squirrel.

squirrel crouched with tomato

Baby squirrel enjoying a fresh tomato

We’re taking part in the occasional back yard release of urban squirrels who are either orphaned or injured before they can make it on their own. The first group of squirrels high-tailed it from our yard last fall without a backward glance.  This second group of six are staying closer to home. One in particular is incredibly trusting. I keep startling her when I round a corner at my usual brisk pace, only to find her nibbling on tomatoes.

squirrel with tomato

Holding a cherry tomato

I inwardly smile at my own double standards. I’ve been disappointed  in the past when squirrels eat the vegetable garden. It’s especially disheartening when they take one bite out of a pumpkin, leaving the rest to wither on the vine. Instead I snag the camera and happily watch her nosh away at the tomatoes while I point and click.

Two years ago, nasty squash bugs moved in. They arrived uninvited with family and friends in tow. Most of that year’s crop fell victim to the vermin. I harvested two surviving pumpkins, but the rest of the fruit succumbed to the ravages of that pest.

pumpkin with squash bugs

2013: Adult and juvenile squash bugs

Last year I moved the crop to our front deck so I could cleverly outsmart the little juice suckers. All seemed well until the plants set fruit. No amount of handpicking or pruning could slow down those squash bugs and again another crop went belly up.

pumkin with squash bugs and pantyhose

2014: Squash bugs ride again

This year I decided to skip planting altogether, hoping to send future generations of repulsive squash bugs packing. Then we entered year four of this punishing drought so I skipped planting anything all season.

This brings me back to the squirrels. I think they may have planted a pumpkin. Last fall I sheet mulched part of the lawn. At the edge of the path, an all-volunteer crop of tomatoes took root, circling a single pumpkin. They’re all happily growing in a dry dirt patch without a drop of water!

pumpkin and tomatoes

At first I refused to invest any emotional energy into a crop that would surely expire after the first heat wave. The pumpkin plant did indeed wilt, but then it  did something else: it pumped out one small, starting to turn orange pumpkin. Within a few days, the fruit shriveled and died, snapped clean off the vine. I left it there for future noshing and went about my business. What a tease!

Then this happened:

green pumpkin 2015

An as yet, undisturbed foot-long pumpkin

How can you ignore that?!

So I did what any self-respecting gardener would do: I encased the pumpkin in a leg of pantyhose.  I found a box of extra-large pantyhose on clearance at a local drugstore.

pantyhose for pumpkin

Just my (pumpkin’s) size

pumpkin under cover-001

Pumpkin secured inside the leg of a pair of pantyhose

pumpkin under cover

Dear rats, squirrels and other foraging critters, Please eat the tomatoes and leave the pumpkin. We only have one. Thank you, The Gardener

The ample material gave me plenty of wiggle room to cover the pumpkin and to allow it to continue to grow. I’m not the only one that hates pantyhose. Apparently that nylon irritates rats and squirrels as well. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Not that I care or anything.

Because…I don’t.

😉

35 thoughts on “Fledgling Hummingbirds, Baby Squirrels and an Unexpected Pumpkin

  1. Oh Alys, isn’t it funny how different things (like squirrels and a surviving pumpkin) change the whole way we look at things? Goodness. I’m also really glad your hummingbird is back in the wild. Who would have thought? I hope you have that pumpkin for the porch at Halloween!

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  2. There is so much excitement in your garden, Alys! My sweet neighbor used to hang up a dried corn cob for the squirrels. For years, I would find a corn plant or two growing amongst my flowers! She also fed the squirrels Keebler cookies. They buried the cookies in our garden, too. (I’m still waiting for a cookie tree to sprout!) Cheering on your Great Pumpkin! Happy days in the garden, Alys! ♡

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    • Dawn, what a sweet story. I’m trying to picture a squirrel burying a cookie. That is quite the image. Our neighbors used to feed them shell peanuts and I would unearth those as well. We don’t have the climate to support them, though, so they never grew. I love watching them scurry around in the fall, madly digging and covering their stash. Ours get quite plump too.

      Please let us know if you ever get a cookie tree. Then notify the press, as they’ll surely want to cover that as well. xox

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  3. Well “Hurrah!” on your success with the beautiful tiny Hummingbird Alys and on the little squirrel wanting to stick around too – so sweet! Now the tomatoes and pumpkin story has me wondering if there is something in just letting Mother Nature get on with things herself. All this coddling of plants and re-sewing of seeds and seedlings via the garden centre every year may be a bit like breeding dogs. You know, the line weakens, the chin weakens…. 🙂 [As I’m mixing my images and species, not to mention my metaphors, I’ll continue on unabashed]: Throw in a half breed and the line produces – a Siddy! 😀

    That pumpkin is most impressive – I only hope the pantyhose doesn’t deter the sunlight from helping it to set its sugars and ripen properly. I haven’t heard of this before and am assuming you know how this is supposed to end………… And I’m betting that as a stronger, independent, voluntary, variety of pumpkin the squash bugs won’t come near it …. Fingers crossed any way. Can’;t wait for the next chapter! xoxo PS I learn soooo much from you. Just love it! xo

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    • You always make me smile, Pauline. Feel free to mix metaphors at any time, day or night. I love them.

      I’ve used the pantyhose in the past, but must admit that this particular pair is a bit more opaque. I’ll keep a close eye and will adjust accordingly. I still have the legs to work with. Hee hee.

      How is our dear Siddy? That pooch has personality to spare. Its hard to imagine he wasn’t always there with you. Funny that.

      xox

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  4. Those squash bugs are super icky! But their ickiness is offset by the abundant cuteness of the squirrel and hummingbird! I’m glad to hear the follow-up to the humminbird tale–I worry so . . .

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    • I’m a worrier too so I get that, truly. And yes ICK to the squash bugs. They’ve become a real problem for farmers too, who will often sacrifice the pumpkin crop to preserve cantaloupe since they bring more dollars at market.

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  5. Hooray for baby humming birds, baby squirrels and baby pumpkins! All is well with the world. What an adventure you’ve had. I’ve been reading about squash bugs this morning, 🙂 Keeping good thoughts for your one remaining rebel.

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    • Thanks, Marlene. It’s like spring all over again, a welcome respite to our hot August days. You know what, though? Today we have a cooling breeze and it feels a bit like fall. I know it won’t last, but today it is a welcome treat.

      I like the idea of my pumpkin as a rebel. It fits! Well done, well done.

      I’m still feeling the weight of your recent post about your deck fire and wishing I could help in some way. Sleepy Hollow is anything but. Glad you are okay. Hugs Marlene.

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      • All is well in Sleepy Hollow. We bought enough Trex to rebuild the deck the way it should have been done in the first place. I plan to leave this place better than I found it. I was up on the terrace this morning as the heat started to encroach but I could still smell the autumn. It’s just there, on the next breeze. Waiting to surprise us. Have a wonderfully rebellious day. 🙂

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        • You made me laugh out loud: have a rebellious day! LOL.

          Boy, no moss gathers under your toes, Marlene. I’m amazed that you’re already shopping materials to rebuild your deck. Now it will be trip-free and damage-free and a special place to call your own. Was the damaged chair part of a set or a single chair, easy to replace? I’m sorry for the damage, but perhaps the new deck needed to be. Sending love your way.

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          • The deck chair was one of my son’s from his place and sat nice but not very pretty. He cut it up and hid it in our tiny trash can so no neighbor could see we had a wee bit of a fire. There are still 2 left but until he gets a place of his own, they are nice to sit on outside. I have 3 of those plastic chairs of which I have painted two to keep Ms Alzheimer’s from being confused. This is going to be quite a project as TS is our of his area of expertise. We are hunting for backup on this one. He’s watched every U-tube video he can find. He fixes cars the same way. 🙂 Mine is going in the shop to get a valve job next week. 😦 TS can’t fix that himself either. It’s been an expensive month but at least I have the funds to take care of it all . Everything is exactly as it should be, as my daughter always says. 🙂 The deck has had an irritation factor from day one. I’ll use the wood for planter boxes and borders. No waste that way. 🙂 Hugs and love. Thanks for being there.

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            • Mike had to rebuild an existing deck on our Fremont townhouse just before we sold it (nearly 20 years ago). It was ‘called’ for termite damage. It was a huge project. He borrowed the realtor’s truck, bought the materials (though ended up short!) and spend one entire day tearing it out and two more rebuilding it on the existing pillars. I helped him with the last of it on a frigid cold day. I remember it took half an hour in the bathtub to regain the sensation in my toes. In your case you’ll be fighting the heat. I hope you can some cool days ahead.

              Your son is amazing. Self taught with so many things. I’m quite impressed.

              I love that the old wood will get a chance at a new life around your home. My gosh you’ve done a lot of work!

              Hugs to you , MH.

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              • You have done a fair bit of work yourselves. My son is like me, always trying to learn how to do things. School is too expensive so we make our own. U-tube has wonderful instructional videos. That’s where I go every time I want to finish the binding on a quilt or make something I’ve never done before. He finds out how to fix cars or build things. Love the internet. 🙂 Hugs,

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                • YouTube is an incredible resource. I’ve used it in the past to recreate period makeup for a costume party and to learn techniques for my Silhouette (which is currently not working and no time to figure it out.) Mike jumps on there all the time. He hates to pay for things he knows he can do himself.

                  We’ve also learned what NOT to do, like insulating our own attic. I fell through the boards, and averted what would have surely been a head injury by catching myself with my hand. It hurt for nine months. Never again. I also fell when the ladder sunk into the soil while pruning a tree. I paid to have the tree pruned this. Now I try to balance the fun of the project, the tools required, the safety of the experience and my expectations for the finished result.

                  It’s what we used to call the school of hard knocks. That has a price too. I’m learning not to pay with my body parts. ;-

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                  • Oh my goodness, Alys. I have managed to stay injury free in all my escapades. You have not been so fortunate. I think I have learned with limited vision and now the Bells, to be slow and precise in my movements. Very, very cautious. I had a neighbor that believed you can’t beat a man at his own game. Another words, hire the guy that’s expert at what you want done. It saves money in the long run. Injuries are expensive and totally not worth it. Glad you don’t do that anymore. Not sure what you meant about the Silhouette?

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  6. So glad your sweet bird made it. I find the squirrel project fascinating in that we are always trying to shoo them away. They are cute but a nuisance – especially when they blow the neighborhood transformers! And always on a Sunday, to boot. But your little one is darling eating her tomatoes. Ugh! Squash bugs. Glad to know I’m not alone. Here’s my plan for next year: sealed row covers and hand pollination. Like you I just want a pumpkin, dammit! All attempts never got as far as flowering stage due to those devils. Good luck on yours! !

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    • Thank you, Leilani. I am too.

      I know the squirrels are considered pests in many ways and they’ve certainly caused their share of damage to vegetables over the years. I still think they’re adorable and enjoy watching them run through the trees, chasing each other and chit-chit-chiting away. We now have three squirrels nests in our orange tree and only minimal damage to my shower curtain-covered swing. I saw one yesterday licking water condensation of the umbrella and really felt sad for them and other creatures out here with so little water.

      I like your idea of a covered pumpkin crop. I’ll be following your progress closely to see how that works out.

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  7. Totally amazed to see your pumpkin – every cloud has a silver lining and all that! I do hope now that the squirrels etc are deterred by the nylon stocking. To be honest, while it does look near to us, I think wildlife will find it all less appealing 🙂

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  8. Pingback: Falling for Halloween | Gardening Nirvana

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