The squirrels win again

Here is the scene that greeted me on our patio this morning:

At first my brain couldn't comprehend what had happened - until I saw the empty table that used to house a very cute pumpkin. Actually, three.

Grrrr.

I figure it's payback from my column last year where I laid out my ongoing battle with our squirrels. They've bided their time ever since, lulling me into a false sense of Halloween complacency.

Not that I put all of our pumpkins outside - oh no, I am not that gullible. They've stayed in our infamous breezeway for the last two weeks, awaiting carving time. I did use the biggest one outside as part of my (meager) fall decorating display but took the precaution of coating it with hairspray. (So far, just a couple of nibbles.)

Then I got brave and set out three little pumpkins on a side table outside our back door. At first they were fine - until I noticed a big bite taken out of the cute little white one. My daughter was dismayed, so I brought it back inside and added it to our kitchen table display.

On Saturday I looked outside and saw my son jumping at our fence over and over, like he was trying to catch something. Turns out a squirrel had actually CARRIED OFF one of the other pumpkins, before dropping it in a neighbor's yard. My son and his friend didn't stop until they had scaled the fence and retrieved it. (He has inherited my squirrel animosities.)

Unfortunately, the pumpkin had a very large chunk eaten of it, so I tossed it back in the yard later as squirrel food. It disappeared within minutes.

Apparently they really liked the flavor.

We carved our pumpkins over the weekend with friends, and didn't quite clean up all the pumpkin seeds from the patio. I saw several  overweight squirrels feasting on them Sunday, whetting their little pumpkin appetites.

I stumbled upon their breakfast this morning.

So our carved pumpkins - a cat and an "STL" Cardinals logo (left) - sit protected inside our breezeway until tonight. Unless the squirrels figure out how to chew through the door.

Then it will be war. Oh yes, chubby squirrels, it will be WAR.

_________________

How have your pumpkins fared this year? Share your squirrel tales below!

Julie Wurth writes and blogs about family issues, the University of Illinois and social services for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact Julie at 351-5226 or jwurth@news-gazette.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/jawurth.

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dimplezusa wrote on October 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

For this Halloween, we let our 4-year-old decide what face to carve on our pumpkin. He decided on a vampire, so I drew a scary, but not too scary vampire face on the pumpkin and my husband helped our son to carve it out. Like most children, our son couldn't wait to set it outside, so they carried it outside that same night. The next morning, our poor vampire was already missing one of its fangs. After two days, it is a completely toothless vampire and is missing part of its face. My husband went to look at it to see if there was any hope of salvaging it, and one of our crazy squirrels (they literally bark at us when we pull into the driveway) jumped out at him. Fortunately, our son finds it more funny than sad, so no disappointed child to deal with.

Julie Wurth wrote on November 04, 2011 at 2:11 pm
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Wow, our squirrels have never barked at us! Your's sound even more aggressive than our dear backyard friends, which are already pretty brazen. And I love the 'toothless vampire'! There's something ironic about vampire beating bitten to death... glad your son has a sense of humor. :)

Thanks for the story!

Sandy wrote on October 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

We've always kept our carved pumpkins inside until Halloween night to protect them from the other pumpkin enemy -- small boys who like to smash pumpkins. We put them outside that evening and bring them back in as soon as trick or treat hours end. The next morning we relocate them to the backyard, where the squirrels' pumpkin lust works for good, helping us get rid of the pumpkins just when we want them gone. (It's not just squirrels, either; our guinea pigs and pet dogs have all liked to eat both raw and cooked pumpkin.)

Julie Wurth wrote on November 04, 2011 at 3:11 pm
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I didn't know dogs liked pumpkin - then again most dogs I know eat first and ask questions later... "I wonder what that was?"

We put our pumpkins out on Wednesday (after admiring them for one more day inside) and let 'em have at it. My husband saw a squirrel literally rolling around inside one trying to eat it. I think we have the fattest squirrels on the planet!

Thanks for the comment!