and they begin to pluck them long before they are ripe, so that when the crop of white-pine cones is a small one, as it commonly is,
they cut off thus almost everyone of these before it fairly ripens.
I think, moreover, that their design, if I may so speak, in cutting them off green,
is partly to prevent their opening and losing their seeds, for these are the ones for which they dig through the snow,
and the only white-pine cones which contain anything then.
I have counted in one heap the cores of two hundred and thirty-nine pitch-pine cones which had been cut off and stripped by the red squirrel the previous winter.
The nuts thus left on the surface, or buried just beneath it,
are placed in the most favorable circumstances for germinating.
I have sometimes wondered how those which merely fell on the surface of the earth got planted;
but, by the end of December, I find the chestnut of the same year partially mixed with the mold, as it were,
under the decaying and moldy leaves, where there is all the moisture and manure they want, for the nuts fall fast.
In a plentiful year a large proportion of the nuts are thus covered loosely an inch deep,
and are, of course, somewhat concealed from squirrels.