The thieves watched and observed from a safe distance, noting my movements 24/7, 365 days a year. They struck hard when opportunity presented itself and then disappeared, leaving only a trail of destruction and broken dreams. Hundreds of strawberry plants, leaves, roots and berries all disappeared within days, leaving only a bare patch of good (but now bare) soil and the forlorn hopes of enjoying those precious summer gifts.
It was time to bring in the detectives.
The strawberry patch was staked out whilst forensics scoured the area for evidence. The detectives moved swiftly and rounded up the most likely suspects and took them in for questioning. All of the suspects had a long rap sheet, all of them denied the crime, so who did it?
The suspects included:
- “Poopy” the Pomeranian
- “Fatso” the Wombat; and
- “Stompy” the Wallaby.
The rap sheets for the three included previous crimes:
Poopy the pomeranian
Crimes: Confirmed murder 2012, of “Friz” the notoriously aggressive frizzle, Isa Brown chicken. The charges were later amended to manslaughter due to the complicit actions of a visitor who accidentally introduced Poopy to Friz in unexpected circumstances. Poopy was given a suspended sentence and put on a good behaviour bond. Theft of plants, including an inexplicable liking of rocket leaves. Acts of public indecency, including acts of public urination.
Physical Description: Large fluffy canine. Unassuming vacuous expression hides a personality strongly geared towards self-interest and rat cunning. Whilst the subject is mostly docile, he is inclined towards occasional bouts of aggressive behaviour, approach with caution.
Last known whereabouts: Poopy has been known to lounge about the main residence. He has also been seen in the food forest during the day hunting field mice (which are retrieved and fed to the chickens as part of his suspended sentence arrangement), chasing foxes to their dens and also rabbits.
The author with Poopy the pomeranian
Fatso the wombat
Crimes: Confirmed theft of French Sorrell, digging up self-seeded carrots and considered to be a most likely suspect in the recent raids on the blueberry bushes. Confirmed destruction of rock walls and raised garden beds. When confronted by police about these actions, Fatso showed little remorse and commented that the rock walls and raised garden beds were placed in inconvenient locations. Fatso refused to decamp to the south to avoid these obstacles but instead went straight through and over them, scattering the rocks and mulch and was overheard muttering something about “these rocks are in my face”.
Physical Description: Wombats are quite large marsupials and have the largest brain to body ratio in the marsupial family. The rear end of the wombat is an armoured plate and any fox foolish enough to crawl into a wombat burrow will find themselves crushed by the wombat against the ceiling of the burrow. Wombats are shy, usually nocturnal creatures and do not leave their burrows if or when rain is threatening. They are happy to sleep in the burrows for many days, leaving only when conditions are truly optimal. They have poor eyesight and hearing, but an incredible sense of smell and will mark out their territories by defecating on a raised surface like a rock, log or stump. Because of their poor eyesight and lumbering habit, wombats are often killed by motor vehicles, and they are overly represented in road kill because they prefer to graze on areas of freshly mown grass which is often kept low around roads. Wombats can go through fences and are quite happy to squash tree guards to get at a particularly juicy morsel of greens.
Last known whereabouts: Seen in the food forest at dusk and also at night when conditions are optimal. The suspect has also been suspiciously noted loitering near the strawberry patch on a recent YouTube video.
Fatso the wombat
Stompy the wallaby
Crimes: Vandalism of fruit trees in food forest. Stompy has previously been apprehended and charged on several occasions with the crime of ripping the tops off young fruit trees so that the fresh leaves can be eaten. Stompy is strongly suspected of breaching the conditions of her good behaviour bond and has required the expense of many hundreds of large steel tree guards to protect young fruit trees in the food forest.
Physical Description: Wallabies are physically similar to kangaroos, but will only reach a maximum height of about 1.6m. They have much darker coats than kangaroos and are usually quite wary of people. Do not be deceived by their smaller size because they have a very long tail, with which they can pivot with their front legs to increase their browsing height. Unlike kangaroos which are quite social animals and travel in mobs, wallabies are generally of a solitary nature and will spend the day hiding in the surrounding forest before making an appearance at their preferred hangouts in the food forest. They are opportunistic browsers with a diet similar to goats, but unlike goats, the soft pads on their feet do far less compaction damage to the soil.
Last known whereabouts: Regular daily visitor to the food forest. Will only flee the scene if a mob of kangaroos decide to visit and graze the herbage and even then will not go far.
Stompy the wallaby hiding on the edge of the forest
Stompy the wallaby in the in-progress food forest
After long and intensive questioning of the three suspects, the following confessions were given.
Poopy the Pomeranian confessed to climbing under the bird netting to get at the strawberries. He stated that, for the record, his original intention was to investigate whether field mice may or may not have been present in the strawberry patch consuming the strawberries. He further claimed that the strawberries were a side issue of little note and were simply a reward for this service and as such the crime was exculpatory.
Fatso the wombat took a more cavalier approach by confessing that the bird netting over the strawberry patch was in the path of where he wanted to travel and because such a nuisance had been perpetrated on him, he calculated and took a tribute of the strawberry plants, berries, leaves and roots and all.
Stompy the wallaby in her confession was more contrite and fessed up that she simply jumped on top of the bird netting thereby squashing it flat and eating the strawberries and plants through the bird netting. It was an ingenious strategy because it left the bird netting in place, but the plants simply vanished.
All three suspects were brought before the judge (me) and each of the suspects claimed a plea of not guilty, citing the extreme weather conditions that forced them to eat the luscious and previously productive strawberry plants and berries. They further claimed that the permaculture ethic of return of surplus applied to this situation given the extreme weather conditions. They’d obviously been worded up by clever lawyers acting on their behalf and I found their arguments to be cogent and their cause just. So all three were let off with a warning and the fines paid were put towards some new commercial grade netting which so far has proven to be excellent.