I caught the squirrel red-handed, or in this case red-toothed, with a ripe strawberry in its mouth. Not just any strawberry but one of the fattest, reddest, juiciest in my crop. At moments like this Jeanette Winterson*-like ideas of revenge come to mind, but as the squirrel isn’t as tasty as a rabbit, I’m told, I contented myself with thoughts of a cruel and painful punishment. But squirrels move fast and I didn’t have my gun with me. I did at least have the enjoyment of seeing the blighter trying to climb up the side of my greenhouse, failing to gain purchase on the smooth drainpipe, and falling flat on its back several times. I captured the last two attempts on this video. The squirrel escaped to live another day, but war has been declared in which I fully intend to be the victor.
*The writer and former vegetarian created a furore after tweeting: “Rabbit ate my parsley. I am eating the rabbit”. In case she feels like exacting a similar revenge on a squirrel here is a recipe for squirrel and ale pie, courtesy of Channel 4 (who else):
1. Clean, skin and cut two squirrels into small pieces. Soak in salted water, or water with a little vinegar added, for several hours. Change the water every couple of hours. Drain the squirrel then pat dry with kitchen paper. Put the flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss the squirrel pieces in the flour until lightly coated.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Fry the bacon with the oil until lightly coloured. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place in a flame-proof casserole dish. Return the pan to the heat and fry the squirrel until lightly browned on all sides. Add to the bacon. Return the pan to the heat once more and add the butter. Cook the onion with the garlic and carrots gently until softened, stirring often. Stir into the squirrel.
3. Pour over the stock and ale. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for 1½ -2 hours until the squirrel is very tender. Remove from the oven and place on the hob. Take off the lid.
4. Make a pastry lid and bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is well risen and golden brown and the filling is hot throughout.