Beware … of the squirrels

HARLINGEN – They’d spent hours planting their fresh seedlings.

The next morning, the fourth graders at Lee Means Elementary were dismayed, as was their teacher Felix Rodriguez.

Squirrels had consumed their young tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and swiss chard planted on the school grounds.

“There were just holes,” Rodriguez remembered.

Undaunted, they bought more.

The squirrels hit again.

Time for a plan.

The vegetable garden was the priceless treasure of Rodriguez and his young protégés, and they would defend it at all costs.

Chicken wire.

They surrounded the garden with the menacing mesh, mounting a staunch defense against the encroaching army of raunchy rodents who even now were planning their next attack.

Rodriguez and his patriots slept soundly, confident their strategy would fend off the assailants.

Yet into the chilly night, those dastardly denizens of destruction found another way to invade.

Boom! Whish! And they slipped through the holes in the wire, right back to the garden.

The Rodriguez crew was crestfallen, but not defeated. They banded together and plotted their next move. A different kind of wire would be needed, some with smaller mesh.

It was easily obtained, and they worked inflinchingly until they’d built their noble stronghold.

Glory! It withstood proceeding attacks by the squirrels by degrees. More adjustments would be made.

The cage couldn’t be placed inside the bed because the varmints could burrow underneath. Placing it on the wooden sides wouldn’t work.

When the weather warps the wood, space would be created beneath the cage. It had to be placed outside on the bare concrete.

Their lofty labor seems to have worked well. Teachers have reported squirrels and chipmunks sitting on the concrete with perplexed looks helplessly staring at the wire mesh.

But, alas! They present themselves as a worthy foe.

A few holes have appeared where they’ve dug underneath the concrete slab and burrowed up into the gardens to feed on the vegetables. My those kids must be planting some fine goods!

Rodriguez’s next move is to put some plastic tarp at the bottom of the beds to keep the squirrels out.

And if that doesn’t work?

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” he said.

He looked over at a bare piece of ground near a fence where they’d grown pineapple.

“The rabbits got that,” he said.