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Me, a Squirrel and Zea Mays

So my neighbor feeds the local St. Paul wildlife in his back yard. Since his town home – a corner unit – is on the extreme end of the lot and abuts the woods, it's somewhat peaceful back there. I don't know how long he's been feeding but he's acquired quite the menagerie. He has a couple of bird feeders there, plus two flat feed pans on the ground (heaven forbid his animals eat off the dirt). In the bird feeders he puts a couple varieties of bird seed and on the pans it's feed corn.

I think the main reason for the corn is the deer, but other fauna partake in the tasty meals: turkeys (we're down to only 3 this year, from the gang-like rafter of 31 we had two years ago), rabbits, ducks (they wait on his roof and quack at him until he puts the food out), and of course, squirrels. Always the squirrels.

For those of you who've never paid attention, the grey squirrel has only 5 life activities hard-wired into its pea-sized brain:
  1. Eat
  2. Sleep
  3. Breed
  4. Store food for winter
  5. Scrabble about and run in front of traffic

When food is plentiful – as it is here in our neck of the (city) woods – squirrels have ample time to cache enough to see them through winter. Now, it turns out squirrels are quite resourceful and sneaky when it comes to hiding their food. It seems these "scatter-hoarders" can have up to "several thousand caches each season." Holy cats. 

Originally (until I just checked at Wikipedia – the source of all trustworthy online data) I thought the mature ones cached food in their "dreys" while the young, immature squirrels were the ones digging holes everywhere on the lawn for hiding acorns, corn, etc. Not so.

Which brings us to the point: since the neighbor puts corn out every day, and squirrels love corn, AND they hide their food in thousands of places...obviously the lawns around our town home complex are riddled with squirrel caches. Many of these containing – you guessed it –  corn seeds. 

What happens when you bury a seed and it receives plenty of water? Why, it grows, of course. Now, the lawn service does a wonderful job of keeping the grounds looking very neat, but they're only out once a week and the tiny little corn shoots keep popping up – everywhere – in the grass.

One morning while out with Zada, I noticed a couple little 4-inch corn shoots waving gently in the breeze. Cursing the squirrels I ripped out said shoots (including their little roots) and walked back towards the house. I'm not sure if I meant to throw them away or what, but as I got to the door I realized "now what do I do with them?" 

As I pondered this (this all took place in about 2.4 seconds) I was gazing at the big, empty flower pot leftover from last summer (I'd used it for one of my spruce tips arrangements this winter) on the front stoop. All of a sudden, unable to quash life, I dug a quick little hole and tossed in the minuscule shoots. 

That was sometime in June. It's now mid-August, and my corn is flourishing. I'm not sure how the squirrel I stole from feels, but I'm loving my little crop. At first – since it was sort of a joke – I didn't really water the pot or take much notice. That quickly changed when the stalks started shooting up over the plant growing in the pot in front of it. 

Now I water the corn first – before all my other plants – and check its progress daily. The latest development: TASSELS! I feel like a proud mama.

After all, I sort of adopted Zea (from a squirrel, no less), and he's doing so can I help but feel pride?

What's that? Yes, I've named my corn. "Zea Mays," of course. What else?

 I'll be excited to see the next step – evidently called "silking" –  and whether or not my lovely corn will develop corn cobs.