The Starter Farm

The $400 Squirrel

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At this point in my farm life experience, I should have known better and should have been able to pick up on the signs that clearly were unfolding in front of me. However, I was on a mission.  Tomatoes needed harvesting, weeds needed weeding, irrigation needed mending and I was running out of daylight. I saw her sniffing around the truck a little too long.  I witnessed the crouched crawl under said truck but brushed it off as her usual haven for shade in this hot weather.  She was preoccupied while I was working, a good thing, as she would not be bringing me toys to play, chasing a lizard through my freshly planted beds or getting tied up with newly strung trellising to interrupt my work.  Perfect I thought, she is finally growing out of the puppy stage and turning into the farm dog that I so desired.  And then I heard the first yelp and knew something was up.

            Deciding it was time to investigate my little princess’s adventures, I returned to the parked truck to witness my little pup Parker yelping and trying to get at something under the engine.  OK, I’ve had rogue mice in the past lifting parts from my vehicles.  They’ve stolen hood insulation for bedding material, wires for who knows what purposes and one day I half expect my truck to be up on blocks with the wheels gone with a tiny mouse written note that says, “See ya sucker!”  Ask people in the country.  Mice love cars and will even trick them out to be their primary residence.  Is a Tiny House Hunters Mice show far behind?

            My favorite mouse story has Mary Ann taking her truck through one of those automated car washes.  Everything was going as planned until she reached the dryer/blower end section of wash.  Just as she was enjoying the process, in my mind maybe she was stealing a smooch with her husband, a mouse shot out of the vent like a cannonball and flew over the roof of the car to become the cleanest mouse in the entire county.  She has since advised her husband to stop keeping peanuts in the truck and now parks it in the sun to make it as inhospitable a lodging as possible.

            I digress. With Parker signaling, it was time to pop the hood.  Half expecting something to shoot out of the hood, I covered my face carefully lifted the hood and found nothing.  I did what every ignorant person does, yelled at the dog to shut up and quit wasting my time.  Stupidly thinking that her alarm was false and leaving my dog to her own devices, I returned to work in the field. Five minutes passed and now I turned around to hear ripping sounds and yelping coming from the truck.  Racing back, I discovered tooth marks in the tire well and a set of fresh wires lay on the ground.  This could not be good.  Popping the hood once again, there was the culprit peeking his head out of the engine block!  It was the ugliest little squirrel I had ever seen, not because he was not cute but in my head his soul was ugly for making my dog destroy my truck.  I ran inside, grabbed my air rifle and returned to the truck in a rage ready to shoot this troublemaker. Putting the rifle within inches of his butt ready to do the deed I could not pull the trigger.  I know, I know but I am working myself into this killing thing.  Time to call Mary Ann, a real farm girl.

            With the falsified story spilling out of my mouth of needing help lifting a ladder and the promise of a cold beer, I lured Mary Ann over and did a quick bait and switch with the rifle in one hand and that beer in the other.  With Parker ready to cut the squirrel’s exit off under the truck, I gently asked her not to accidentally shoot the dog or any important components of the engine. Rolling her eyes and laughing at my incompetence, she took the rifle in hand, aimed, shot and missed.  The squirrel buried itself behind the engine block and Mary Ann yelled for me to get the hose.  I could not believe it.  We were going to waterboard this thing from behind the engine block.  With the water running, the wet squirrel peaked its ugly/cute head out once from the engine and then disappeared never to be seen again.

            I have no idea whatever happened to the squirrel but I grabbed the keys and reluctantly put them in the ignition. I then turned, praying that my car would not be re-decorated in squirrel fur walls. Luckily this did not happen; but unfortunately my dashboard did light up with a wonderful red display of “Service Engine Now!” In my review mirror I could not tell if my face was red from this display, that day’s sunburn or my rising blood pressure.

            Two days later I dropped my truck at the shop with a $400 estimate and a barely audible warning to the technician that he might find a surprise under the hood. As far as the dog goes, she was just trying to help her daddy get rid of that nasty squirrel in his truck.  She is not as understanding as to why Daddy has not bought her a new collar or himself a new pair of jeans in a very long time.  Again, another lesson learned, albeit an expensive one, in this journey of becoming a farmer.

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