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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
Just my (pumpkin’s) size
Pumpkin secured inside the leg of a pair of pantyhose
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.