Friday, August 27, 2010

Collateral Damage

It's been a rough year here for tomatoes. Record cool temperatures, a bizarre two-day heat wave, rampant cherry tomatoes I can't get through to pick thoroughly. . . just not the abundant, lots-of-canning year I'd hoped for. One bright spot was the volunteer tomato out front. Sheltered in a warm corner, it bloomed early, set fruit early, and was the first to ripen anything. Even it's not doing all that well, really.

The other day I came home from a camping trip and found some weird problem with the fruit:



I thought it was maybe birds, or squirrels. . . turns out, my second guess was closer. When I looked carefully at the pumpkin I'd been babying along for Halloween, I found my culprits:


See the yellow spots? There are a couple of boys living across and down the street who are at that awkward adolescent age -- young enough so it's difficult to find them real work of any kind to do, old enough to start getting into bigger kinds of trouble. This summer, they've been exploring beebee gun wars, with plastic beebees. Everyone wears eye protection; they're pretty good about following the rules, but that didn't help these innocent bystanders.

Sigh. They need big farm animals or a flood to dig ditches for or something to explore -- anything but this coddled city life with very few big men in their lives.

I asked them not to shoot toward our house and showed them why. We'll see how it goes. Now if I can keep my kids from making bows and arrows out of sticks and string and shooting the sunflowers, we'll be on our way.

16 comments:

Ribbit said...

You tell ole Tom Sawyer there I've a fence needing painting. Good lord, think if one of those pellets had hit you in the tuchus while you were gardening!

chaiselongue said...

Oh dear, that's one pest you don't expect and can't use even organic methods to control! I hope they listen to you and your tomatoes are OK. It's been a strange year here too - a late start followed by some very hot weather this month. All the gardeners here are complaining... but then gardeners always are a mix of pessimism (about this year) and optimism (about next year)!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

There had clearly been boys of that 'awkward age' living here before we moved in too. We've found a number of bay laurel and oak trees that were heavily shot up. The chickens are constantly turning over plastic bb's in the soil, and occasionally in the garden I've found rifle casings. See, it starts with the bb's...and then...

I hope they understand now not to fire toward toward your vegetable garden. If not, and they need something to do, we have cords and cords of firewood that need to be split :P

Erin said...

LOL! Just when I thought I might have seen it all... BB's!!! That's actually pretty funny - as long as they don't do it again! Tomatoes have been off here too, this year.

Annie's Granny said...

I'd be giving their parents a bill for replacement of your organic vegetables. I'll bet that would stop them. Sorry, I'm just not too forgiving of damage to the property of others. Those boys need to learn to respect what is yours.

Stefaneener said...

Ribbit, no kidding. I think I would have yelled, but not been hurt, and it is a wide target!

chaiselongue, you have it right about gardeners!

CVS, it is so hard. I don't have a lot of hope for these guys, actually. It seems as if some military or prison experience is in front of them, but maybe they'll pull it out.

Erin, I waver between finding them amusing and worrying about them and by extension us. . .

Granny, it's my front yard, and I doubt if they were aiming at them -- they were just not perfect shots! I don't think they're malicious mostly - very careless and carelessly supervised. They aren't getting any tomatoes from me. Or maybe I should give them shot-up ones!

Mr. H. said...

Ah yes, the trials and tribulations of dealing with young boys...and girls to sometimes. Our property borders a public park and beach so you can imagine how many issues we have...it's nice during the school year though.:)

I like your idea of presenting the family with a load of freshly pelleted produce.

Daphne said...

I never would have expected that pest. I would hate to find little plastic BBs in my garden and having my veggies mangled would be even worse. I hope they quit firing your way.

Stefaneener said...

Mr. H., school begins this week. I'm looking forward to the quiet. They need more real work, that's all.

Daphne, it's really one of those things. The front yard garden is a challenge because it's so public, but I hadn't thought of it falling victim to violence!

Jan said...

Oh dear :-( I always maintained that teenage boys ought to have to go and kill a lion... but no-one listened to me!

Engineeredgarden said...

Well....those little boys just need a target to shoot at. A squirrel will give them hours of entertainment.

kitsapFG said...

Your patience and willingness to talk to them is admirable. Sometimes they do listen actually. I hope so in this case particularly - as the few tomatoes we are all squeezing out of our gardens are rather precious this year!

Dan said...

Those damn kids :-) I'd make them work it off with garden chores.

thyme2garden said...

Oh, your beautiful vegetables all shot up, that's terrible! Kudos to you for being so patient with the boys, but man, I would be mad! (I know, I know, it would be very unproductive to be mad in this case...) I'm also curious about your front yard garden. Are you growing veggies in both front and back yard?

Stefaneener said...

Jan, I think you're wiser than you know. They certainly need a lot more than they're getting in general.

EG, I can imagine suggesting that. The squirrels haven't given me any problems this year yet, cross fingers. If they do, I'm going to harness me some adolescent male energy.

kitsapFG, I decided to keep my spotted tomatoes to myself ; )

Dan, you got it right. I don't have many, and they're perfectly willing to be helpful.

thyme2, Yes, the back yard is all the lovely beds -- the front is landscaped with edibles, and the tomatoes and pumpkin are actually temporary. It's fruit trees, artichokes, herbs, things that are less vulnerable to beebees!

Jackie said...

Like Ribbit, I am thinking of Tom Sawyer, too. It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. My little brother took a ricochet pellet just above his eye when he was about 10 years old. He's 29 now and still has the scar to prove it.