Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Battle of Ft. Tomato: It's Total War!

Me 'n' Maddy down by the Fort-yard^

Fully understanding the addictive nature of my personality and that no matter what I do, I'll never beat the groundhogs, I constructed Fort Tomato in the back yard, while my wife rolled in the grass laughing.

It is a noble construction: wood, wire, rope, nails, big rocks and the coup de gras, olive oil and cayenne pepper. It should stop not only this little six-groundhog family, but the Seventh Groundhog Army. And so far the results have been ... uh ... mixed.

I simply can't imagine a little wooley animal taking a large bite out of a tomato leaf (and they don't seem to be interested in the tomatoes, themselves) and living for very long afterwards. The cayenne wouldn't directly kill them, I suspect, but suicide is a distinct option. The olive oil makes the pepper adhere to both the tomato leaf and to the groundhog tongue ... in theory. So why do they keep coming back, climbing the screens, tearing them down to a level where they can use them as ladders, burrowing under the whole mess? Must be damn good tomato leaves; a little Mexican treat, as it were, given the spices.

If this isn't enough, we have birds dive bombing the tomatoes and squirrels taking a bite out of anything I deem valuable and throwing it away. Damn squirrels. The birds--mockingbirds, bluejays, cardinals and those god-awful grackels when they're moving through the area on the way to their summer home in hell--eat the tomatoes. They're the only real animal to do that.

Bugs love the tomatoes, but that's easily controlled with a little white dust. Birds? Nope. Not even the cats can control them. I caught Moochie cowering under a chair on the front porch the other day while a mocking bird sat on the porch rail screaming at him: "Come out you little bastard and fight like a man!" That same mockingbird ran off a whole squadron of bluejays a little later. I had not thought of a mockingbird as a public menace before that.

So, now, I'm on the way to the backyard to check the crops. Pray for me.

(Minutes after finishing this piece, I go out to the backyard to have Christina take a photo of my pal Madeline and me at Fort Tomato and what do I find: two large groundhogs camping at the foot of the fort. They scurry off--I detect a middle finger in the air from the lead varmint--only to come back out from under the utility building moments later during the middle of the photo shoot. Looks like they want to negotiate until I pull a George Bush and scream, "You're either with us or you're against us!" They take off again.)

1 comment:

  1. haha. looks like they're winnin, I hate to tell ya. Funny