Newton was the first one to go inside. The animals had been circling around the place for months, wondering what was going on inside, if anything.
Of course, they had a whole forest to work with, so the tower was interesting, but hardly the most important thing on their minds. The last couple had left after an incident. It had been both very loud and very disturbing.
There was a trailer down below the tower, where the couple had actually lived. One night, the man had started yelling at his wife up in the tower. She’d poked her head out of one of the windows to look at him. After about a half hour of yelling, she’d come down the ladder from the top of the tower. In all that time she hadn’t said anything.
But when she got to the ground, the animals could see that she had a large wrench in her hand. She hit him across the face with it, and he fell in the bushes at the bottom of the tower. She kept hitting him until his head was mush. Then she sat down beside his body.
The next day a truck came up the mountain to take her away. They covered his body and placed it carefully in the back of the truck. Then they took her under the arms and put her in the truck.
She was absolutely silent about it. She’d been silent the whole time. The animals respected the silence. At least a few of them had killed before, and none of them thought it was an occasion for talking or making a scene.
But after they took the woman away, there hadn’t been a replacement. So, the tower and trailer had just stood empty. None of the animals had ever seen the inside of either structure.
Many of them didn’t care much. The cougar, especially. He was actually opposed to the animal’s curiosity. He thought it was a huge waste of time. He didn’t see the point of worrying about either of the structures until they produced something delicious. Until then, neither him nor the other animals should even worry about them.
But both squirrels and deer were anxious to get a look inside. Squirrels are just naturally curious, and they were egged on by the crows. The deer always browse anyway, and they couldn’t help thinking that there might something tasty growing inside, even though there was no reason to think that.
So, having been encouraged by the crows, one of the squirrels named Newton went inside the tower. He climbed up the outside of it, and then slipped through a crack between the aluminum siding and the steel legs that held it up.
Inside, he found mostly maps and radios–so nothing that he could use. However, they had left some potato chips lying around. He liked how crispy they were, but he didn’t like all the salt. His face got puckered up from all the salt, and he didn’t try any others.
Though he did wonder if the deer might like them. They were always on the lookout for more salty stuff. And the crows would love it. To be fair, they loved anything, so there really was no doubt that the salt content wasn’t going to be an issue.
So, he gathered up what chips he could, wrapped them in a spare tissue that was lying around, and he took them outside to the deer. They didn’t really like them either. They had a few bites, but they were dill pickle flavoured, and they didn’t go over too well with the deer.
At which point, Newton gave them to the crows instead. As he had expected, they loved them. Salty dill pickle… whatever. It was all good. The birds snarfed them up as quick as they could.
Newton had left them on the ground, and one of the big crows tried to claim the whole bunch by chasing off the other birds. There were just too many other crows, though, and the big crow’s stockpile of chips kept getting smaller and smaller. Eventually he decided it wasn’t worth trying to guard them all, so he just grabbed a few chips in his mouth and flew away.
Then Newton decided that he would try the trailer. There were more chips lying around, but he didn’t bother with them. He figured he could come back for them later… the crows would gather for them again.
But he also found some carrots sitting out on the counter. They were pretty shriveled, but he knew that deer loved veggies, so he figured he’d try it. He tried one himself, and while he liked it better than the chips, he still liked seeds and nuts better.
So, he took them out to the deer, and he was right, they loved them. So much so that they were asking if there were more, and if he would go back inside to get them.
Newton knew that there were a few more carrots lying around, but he decided that he needed to get something in return. So, he sent the deer off to get him some nuts and seeds. He’d trade the salvaged carrots for seeds.
He took them outside to the deer, and they deposited a decent number of seeds and nuts in front of him in exchange for the carrots. Newton was quite happy with the trade, and it gave him an idea. He knew of a town nearby, where he might be able to get more carrots.
So, he assembled a crack team of other squirrels to help him and then set off for the town. When they arrived there, they scouted some gardens to make sure they had carrots. On Newton’s orders though, they didn’t even try to raid the gardens while it was light out. Daytime was solely for reconnaissance.
When night fell, they slipped into the gardens they’d already scouted, and Newton’s team set to work. They furiously dug into the ground near the carrots, being careful not to scratch the actual veggies themselves.
Once enough of the dirt had been removed, they pulled the carrots out of the ground. Once they had a few decent sized bunches, they slipped back out of town.
They were hailed as heroes of a sort when they got back to the forest. Newton divided up their haul of carrots so that he and another squirrel that had helped lead the incursion got the most, and then everyone else got a share as well. There was a little grumbling about the shares, but not much. Everyone recognized that Newton and the other squirrel, Davis, had been integral.
In any case, all the squirrels involved had enough to trade so that the deer would gather nuts and seeds for them that fall. Some of the squirrels quite liked carrots, but they recognized that they were far more valuable as a commodity to trade with deer than as a tasty treat for them.
The squirrel raid became an annual event. None of the gardeners in town could figure it out, but it wasn’t unusual for wildlife to steal produce. It was blamed on groundhogs anyway. No one figured that squirrels would be able to dig like that.
They didn’t really mean to, but the groundhogs eventually got their revenge. One year, they did a real number on the carrots as they started sprouting in the spring. They kept munching the plants all summer. In the fall, the squirrels weren’t able to find many carrots to take.
They took what they could, but they had to gather their own nuts and seeds again. They didn’t have enough to simply let the deer do it. So, Newton sighed deeply and started gathering nuts for himself.
After that, the raids became much smaller and less important. The deer began to feel like this was a pretty raw deal for them anyway. They were tired of gathering nuts in the fall. They still liked carrots, but they like many other plants too, and they could just eat them from the forest, without any hassle.
So, the younger squirrels kept at it, but Newton and Davis, and some of the other original raiders decided that it just wasn’t worth it. They had a lot of work to do, and carrot raids just didn’t seem like a good use of their limited energy.
Eventually, some people came, removed the trailer and dismantled the tower itself. It was clear that they had no intention of using that location for spotting fires anymore.
Most of the animals were happy to see it go. While the deer loved carrots, they realized that they were better off eating from the forest itself. And the squirrels had actually kind of missed finding nuts to gather themselves. And they didn’t have to sneak in and out like some kind of commando or something. No one cared about them taking nuts and seeds.
The only ones sad to see it go were the crows. They had quite liked those potato chips.