Squirrel Study: Sad Story of Our Walnuts

Pile of Walnuts

We have a beautiful walnut tree in our backyard and it has always given us an abundance of nuts each autumn. The photo shown here is from a few years ago and shows part of our walnut harvest. Around this time of year, we are usually gathering oodles of nuts to dry and crack to eat and save for our baking.

Not this year.

Grey squirrels came and ate every last nut in our crop. Climbing into the tree, they would pick the nuts wrapped in their green outer coats, strip the casings off, and then proceed to crack the shells to get to the meat.

Piles and piles of shells and green casings dropped to the ground, littering the sidewalk and garden below. I thought surely they couldn’t eat them all, but they did.

I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. On one hand, I love having the furry little guys in my yard and away from my birdfeeders. On the other hand, I would have liked to have had a few nuts in my pantry for cookies and muffins and salads. This autumn will be known as the year with no nuts.

Our front yard also has a squirrel that visits quite frequently. It is a different variety of squirrel and he is FAST.
Squirrel in the tuliptree 2
(I shared this photo a few weeks ago during our tree study…we think it is a Fox Squirrel.)

Fox Squirrel on the front wall

He is busy eating the seeds from the tulip tree.

Squirrel on the front wall 2
Look at those feet! No wonder they can climb and jump like they do!

He nibbles and then scurries off down the street, as if he has a regular route he takes to dine at various spots in the neighborhood.

Squirrel on the front wall 1
He is fun to watch as he bounds down the street and up onto the neighbor’s narrow fence top. My son, who does a lot of his schoolwork in the living room at the table by the window, calls my attention to our resident squirrel all the time. We are getting to know him quite well this year.

The other day as I was driving down a fairly busy street in town, a squirrel decided to run out in front of me. I know from experience that they usually dart out of the way at the last minute and I try not to get too excited. This one seemed to look me in the eye as he sat in my lane of traffic, a crazy game of chicken. Starting to move, he zigged and zagged a little in front of me and stood still again as I got closer. I slowed a bit and started coaching him to “Get out of the way!” At the last possible moment, he ran off to the side of the road and quickly up a tree. Why do they do that?

For the most part, we enjoy our neighborhood squirrels and find a great deal of entertainment value in this rodent. Our favorite squirrel actually walks the telephone line at a busy intersection in town. We see him probably once a week doing his tight-rope act, defying gravity and giving us something to be in awe about with this little one of God’s creation.

Here is our link to our previous squirrel study if you would like to read that one:
Squirrel Study

Watch this video to see another common squirrel in our area…the California Ground Squirrel. This video was taken last spring on a hike we took not too far from our home.

Comments

  1. Oh dear! I must admit I HATE squirrels. We had one in our chimney that would come into the house and browse. I’ll never forget my then 6yo son saying…there’s a monster in the house and it looked at me! We didn’t believe him until we saw the squirrel droppings ON the kitchen table. Blah. Here is a link to the crazy adventure of getting that mama squirrel AND her babies out of our house! http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2008/08/squirrel-lessons.html

    I really came on to share that we did your leaf printing activity and it turned out really well. Follow the link to see my dd’s artistic twist! http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2009/10/leaf-prints.html

    Thanks for doing such a terrific job with this blog. I look forward to reading about your nature studies and trying things here at our house. Thank you for your steadfastness!!

    Heather

  2. I have had several unpleasant experiences with squirrels. Several years ago they ate almost every ear of corn we were growing and then they “hid” the evidence (the husks) in the bushes. That’s when I discovered their sneakiness! LOL! I’ve seen them take bites out of our tomatoes, which wouldn’t be too bad if they’d eat the whole tomato, but instead they nibble a little on this one and a little on that one! Squirrels are a mixed bag; entertaining to watch when they’re NOT in your garden or walnut tree. Just wanted you to know I sympathize with you!

  3. Thanks for the comment Barb. I just left that post with Mr. Linky at your request.

    I’ll try to popover and share more often. A goal! : )

    Heather

  4. Very fun post to read. Sorry you lost your nuts though. That is sad. I wish I had some nut trees. I love all kinds of nuts, other than hazel nuts and that’s all that we have. I gladly share them with the squirrels!

  5. I wonder if this means it will be a hard winter as they are storing so much away. Doesn’t seem normal that they would eat so many.

    Darla

  6. Darla,

    I never even thought about that! I will have to notice and see if it correlates with the kind of winter we have this year. :)

    Thanks for the thought.
    Barb

  7. Several years ago we lived in DC and I had a cut little arrangement of mini pumpkins and indian corn outside the front door before Halloween.
    Not only did the local squirrels steal the corn, but they even swiped the mini pumpkins, which surely outweighed them.
    I caught on in the act of dragging a pumpkin away and chased it through the neighbor’s yard. He managed to get that pumpkin up into a tree just beyond my reach. Then he sat and chittered at me (as if to scold me for unsporting behavior).

    Their predations on my husband’s sunflowers are another story entirely (there was chili pepper and shoe thowing involved – and the squirrels still won). Amazingly crafty animals.

  8. But among the squirrels, it will be known as the Year of the Great Harvest! (Couldn’t resist.)

    You’ll have to buy your walnuts this year. I know they are pricey. :-(

  9. I don’t know why a squirrel would stare you down in the middle of the road, but it brought to mind an almos-run-in I had with a crow. One swooped towards my car as I drove down a street, and I thought it was absolutely berserk, until I noticed that he dropped a horse chestnut in front of my car, hoping that my tires would crack it open. Now *that’s* a smart animal.

  10. Jimmie-You made me smile….I guess it all is perspective. :)

    Mom’s Sewing Vault-I actually ran a squirrel over not too long ago. I did everything I could, including stopping the car in the middle of the road, to avoid it. The squirrel refused to move out of the road, I stopped and I thought it had moved…it hadn’t. I started the car going forward again and I actually ran it over. It must of been sitting right up against the tire. I still can’t figure out how it happened. It was very traumatic.

    Thanks for all the squirrel stories. I actually don’t mind them and enjoy watching them do their squirrel things. :)

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  11. Squirrels…
    We don’t like ‘em around here!
    They are quite pesty.
    We can hardly grow anything edible in the garden. They seem to snicker at our antics to scare them off!

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