The strange thing is that when Middle One, eating his morning cereal at the breakfast table and watching me banging on the kitchen window and shaking my fist at my fluffy tailed nemeses, pondered in a tone all bemused and rational: “Mummy, why are you perfectly happy to feed one type of creature but not another?” he stopped me dead in my tracks. Because that’s exactly what I used to say to my Grandfather when he went bonkers about the squirrels stealing his bird feed.
Am I turning into my Grandfather, I wonder?
“It’s not that I mind them taking the nuts,” I replied, sounding reasonable (I had to make considerable effort). “It’s just that they’re chewing through my lovely wooden bird feeder shaped like a little house that I bought at the Chelsea Flower Show. (All true.)
So, later I googled: “poisonous to squirrels” and up popped a whole list of websites catering for people with a murderous loathing for the little critters. There really is something for everyone out there in Internet land. And that’s not what I intended. I don’t want to kill a squirrel, and certainly not in the name of feeding a few birds. I merely want to deter it/them from attacking my little wooden house with the slate roof that’s hanging prettily from the magnolia tree.
Cayenne pepper! It said further down, just below all the support groups for squirrel haters. Exactly the sort of top tip I was looking for. Squirrels can’t abide it apparently and birds don’t give a fig. Perfect. So I shook some liberally all over the peanuts… and the bird feeder. Job done. Or so I thought. But the wretched furry rats were back at it, gnawing the wooden corners, the very next morning.
More banging on the window…
What I need is something to stick the cayenne pepper to the corners of the feeder, I thought to myself, taking up the challenge with a worrying sort of geriatric tenacity. And that’s where the vaseline comes in. I mixed up a marvellous paste of the stuff: petroleum jelly infused with cayenne pepper. Yum. And now it’s working a treat. The garden is squirrel free … and full of tits (no sniggering at the back).
Okay, so it may seem a touch eccentric, not to say a little desperate, but it must run in the family because now I come to think of it I remember what my Grandfather resorted to in his frenzied quest to stop the squirrels climbing up the rather grand bird feeder that stood in the middle of his immaculate lawn: he greased the pole with engine oil - and I don’t even think it worked.