Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

This Bushy-Tailed Farmer Had an Air of Purpose

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

This Bushy-Tailed Farmer Had an Air of Purpose

Article excerpt

I've been keeping an eye on the corner of our yard. Last November when fat and furry squirrels frisked around the neighborhood making preparations for winter, I noticed one of them venturing onto our lawn with his jaws clamped onto half an ear of corn. (I'm assuming this squirrel was male, based on size and inexplicable behavior.)

At first he appeared just to be passing through. Then he stopped, laid down his burden, sat upright on his abundant haunches, and cased the area where grass meets plant bed.

With an air of purpose, he bit off a kernel and held it in his front paws. He licked it thoroughly and then carried it to the bed (about four feet from where he had deposited the ear). There he dug a small hole, dropped the kernel into it, and covered it, using his front feet to pat the dirt.

Returning to his corn-cob base of operations, the enterprising critter bit off another morsel and put it through the same licking process before burying it a foot or so away among the blades of grass.

By this time I had moved to a larger window and drawn up a chair.

Over the next few minutes, our bushy-tailed farmer repeated this procedure about eight or 10 more times, burying the corn in what seemed like random spots, some in the grass and some in the bed - and one (almost) on the sidewalk, until he thought better of it.

Meanwhile, the mail carrier walked right past him. She was so engrossed in sorting and he in planting that they appeared to take no notice of each other, even though they nearly collided.

Eventually this uninvited horticulturist, his work in our field apparently done, picked up his treasure and bounded dolphin-like across the street, where he stopped and did some more planting before continuing his project on somebody else's lawn. (A couple days later, we found a partially stripped half ear of corn parked in a clump of wild grass on the other side of our front yard. It remained there a day or two, then disappeared. Maybe little Johnny Cornkernel took some time off. …

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