the farmer vs. the bleeding heart

My little strawberry bed has been very picked over lately, which has been making me crazy. When your strawberry bed isn’t very big, and the strawberries themselves aren’t very big, the last thing you want is the birds eating most of them. And half of the strawberries I’d pick would have beak marks in them! grrr.

So on Sunday I put some netting over the bed to deter the thieves, hoping to get a few unmarred strawberries out of the deal. This evening I walked into the yard, ready for a round of Suzie-ball and headed for the strawberry patch to see what was ripe and if the netting helped… and I found this…

A very sad, very tangled little chipmunk. Honestly I have no idea how he got so stuck, the netting was wrapped around him tightly every way possible and he continued to frantically wrap himself in more netting as I watched… and tried to think what to do…

I’ve been seeing this chipmunk under my front step lately and I blame him for the holes in my front flower bed. The farmer in me is happy to have caught the bugger who’s been messing with the garden and clearly stealing strawberries as well!

On the other hand, the bleeding heart in me isn’t sure I can just leave him there, strangling to death in the strawberry bed… not to mention the second the dogs caught wind of him, he would be a chewed up morsel for me to clean up.
Suzie runs up with the ball, quickly I grab her ball and heave it to the other side of the yard to distract her and get her away from my dilemma. Thankfully Maggie was off reigning queen of the backyard on the play structure, so I was safe for a moment. Think quick Reenie!

Okay, the bleeding heart won out pretty fast… but how do you untangle a frantic chipmunk from netting? And what if he bites you? and gives you rabies?

I put the dogs inside and armed myself with work gloves and some pointy scissors and spent the next 10 minutes cutting layer upon layer of the netting away from the chipmunk. I think he understood I was there to help and he stopped struggling while I clipped away. A few times he’d try to get free, but I continued to cut until he could finally wriggle loose and scurry away to the safety of a gutter. He’s still got a few fragments of netting on him, but I think he’ll be fine. Gosh he was cute. And I do feel a little like a super hero freeing him like that.

And apparently, the netting does keep the birds off! After freeing the chipmunk, I managed to get a small container full of un-beaked strawberries! Yum.

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