Those dam’ Yankee varmints, the grey squirrels, are pushing their luck again and, on this occasion, I feel they have the better of me.
By way of demonstration as to why they have become such a successful species in this country, they are stealing our strawberry crop from right under our noses. We never see them, but we know it’s them, because we have found evidence in a couple of their favourite nut-cracking spots. So now, amongst the litter of broken hazelnut shells, we have the remains of unripe strawberries, Yes – unripe! The little buggers are not even bothering to give the fruit a chance to ripen, but simply pulling them off the plants while still hard and white.
Clearly they don’t like them like this (who would, I ask you??) because they just take a bite or two and then discard them. How profligate is that? Has nobody told them that these fruits should be allowed to go red before eating? Mind you, the silly sods also crack open immature hazelnuts and remove the tiny nutlets forming in the soft down within long before they have had a chance to fill the shell. Eaten like this, I estimate it would take about 24 nuts to make a mouthful for a squirrel. As for strawberries, I would say that the amount they take from four or five fruits wouldn’t be enough to fill a cheek pouch. The sheer wastage just winds me up!
We are very proud of our strawberries, and this year the weather has been just right. We were looking forward to a bumper crop. We started this patch with two straggly plants that we found in the garden, and it has taken a few years of allowing these two to multiply at will to produce a lovely bank of strawberries just under the beech hedge on the western side of the garden. They look very much like wild strawberries. We deliberately let them ramble just to see what would happen. What happened was we were getting more strawberries each successive year, and this year it just looked brilliant, with huge fruits forming in abundance. But now – total devastation. What with this and the hooligan jackdaws, I think the air rifle has made its way to the top of the shopping list. I wonder what a squirrel and jackdaw terrine would taste like?