They are totally irritating to me. There’s nothing cute about them. They’ve robbed me of my greatest summer pleasure, growing a vegetable garden. Those little thieves destroy the vegetables just at the moment they’re ripe, taking one bite and leaving the leftovers for me to fantasize and dream about.
And they burrow holes all over the property, causing the ground to collapse in the lawn. If anyone steps on an area of grass hiding an underground tunnel they could trip, fall, and imagine they’re in a Viet Cong tunnel dug somewhere near Hanoi.
Chipmunks relocate wood chips and garden mulch from under trees and shrubs to their preferred spots in mid-driveway. They create the peacetime equivalent of a deadly road bomb.
I wish there were some way to get rid of those little beasts, I complain to myself, as I think about planting a vegetable garden this summer. I have diabolical, even murderous thoughts towards them.
I see large birds flying overhead and wonder: “Do turkey hawks eat chipmunks? Why don’t they swoop down and grab and gobble a few?”
I decide to try a new system to deter the creatures from eating my plants: bird netting. The kind of netting used to protect berries and grapes from birds’ marauding.
I plant one single tomato plant, “Sweet 100,” in a large container and wrap the container with bird netting. Now let’s see who will outsmart whom.
Yesterday afternoon I hear my husband shriek “Come out here right away.” I rush outside, and there, near my “Sweet 100”, was my husband with a pathetic sight. He held a chipmunk that he had cut free from the netting around the Sweet 100, wrapped in bird netting. It had been trying to climb up and fetch an afternoon snack when it got hopelessly tangled. The animal was completely immobilized. “Grab some gardening gloves and help me,” he said. The poor chipmunk was frozen with fear and unable to move a whisker (do chipmunks have whiskers?).
I held him still, while my husband cut the netting from all around his body. The last batch was under his neck, choking him. That too was carefully snipped away. The animal, now free, quickly ran off to hide and recover under some blue hydrangeas.
As a reward for our good deed, we are blessed with a “rescue” chipmunk this summer, aiding and abetting his cohorts in the destruction our garden.
So now instead of growing my own vegetables I support the local farmers and buy our fresh produce at the farmers’ market. I wonder what they do with THEIR chipmunks?