Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Squirrel and the Nut

We moved to our new home in Georgetown in late June of 2000.  It took several weeks before we had most of the boxes unpacked. We did not even worry about the outside.  An extended drought kept us from putting in grass or plants in the front yard until the fall. We have left the area in the back ‘natural’ as have our neighbors.  We had only been in the house a few weeks when we took a much needed.... and appreciated trip to Colorado. When we returned the builder had finished the deck built off the back of the house.  The view from the deck is absolutely beautiful. The same view can be enjoyed from our breakfast room windows.  We can look down on what might be called a draw or ravine, in that it is a steeped-sided valley larger than a gully and smaller than a canyon.   There is a forest of green as far as you can see.  There is water far down the back of our ‘back yard’.... this water runs into the South San Gabriel River. I once explored the draw; there are several  ‘shelves’ of limestone, but it is still very steep.  It is amazing how cedar and cactus seem to grow out of the stone.  Across this draw/ravine are homes built on an opposing ridge.

One of our greatest pleasures happened quite by accident.  We noticed deer coming up the draw at dusk as we ate our evening meal.  They were timid, but curious. The Duck went to the farm supply store and bought a 50-pound bag of deer corn.  I began the daily routine of tossing the corn on the ground in back.  If the wind was blowing the wind chime or if we opened the back door, the deer would scattered, but they always come back. We have had as many as six deer eating at one time.  One of the males has an injured foot, but “Tripod” holds his own with the others.  A young  buck with possibly eight points appeared to have his own harem.  Later in the evening we often see raccoons and possums eating any leftover corn. To our surprise the squirrels appeared and would eat any corn left over as well.  After the front yard was finished with the landscaping, we started clearing the brush from the back.

The Duck hung a plastic bird feeder shaped like a lantern from one of the tall Cedar trees just outside the breakfast room windows. It hung from a black string on one of the branches and in short order we had several different kinds of birds visiting.  About this time a very industrious brown squirrel showed up, too.  He could be seen ‘stretching’ the length of the string and munching on birdseed.  The Duck lengthened the string.... the squirrel only stretched more!  The Duck removed the black string and replaced it with a thin longer wire.  The squirrel was not deterred.  The little pest could clean out the feeder in a very short time.  The duel of minds was heating up ... The Duck strung the wire through a plastic tennis ball container.... the squirrel held on to the container and would eat from the bottom of the feeder or knock enough seed onto the ground to keep himself busy for a while.  There was a second wooden feeder placed in another tree above a pile of cedar logs that we had cleared from the back. This was no challenge.... the feeder was emptied in record time.  Finally, The Duck erected a Purple Martin house’s metal pole (maybe 15-16 feet tall) securing the pole in concrete.  He built a cross brace and attached it to the pole about 7 1/2 or 8 feet above the ground. From each end of the brace he hung the birdfeeders.  I wish that you could have seen our faces when  “Squirrel” shinnied up that metal pole like a human might climbing a rope,  hand over hand.... eh, paw over paw.... not a problem!!!  Squirrel-5  Duck-4!!! 

This was now WAR.... after four years of engineering in college and 33 years plus working, The Duck was not going to be outwitted by a brown ‘rodent’ with a bushy tail (and a pea size brain!)  Picture this, a wooden disk about two foot in diameter.... it circled the metal pole and was about 6 feet from the ground, the birdfeeders safely above the disk. We noticed that while there was no sign of our little thief, the birds did not come either.  The Engineer glued roofing shingles to the wooden disk...the birds returned since the surface was no longer slick. Several days went by without incident .. then we saw him.  Somehow, the squirrel had managed to jump from a branch of a cedar tree onto the TOP of the birdfeeders and was literally ‘wrapped’ around the feeder eating upside down!!!  The noise from the chainsaw reverberated down the draw.  Several limbs were cut from the trees surrounding the metal pole and feeders.  Victory was ours.... until “the Squirrel from Hell” managed to jump from a stack of logs near the pole to the feeders and repeated his upside down eating frenzy.  We had not intended to move the logs, at least not until we had planned their placement in the ‘natural’ landscape of the back.    The birdfeeders were filled with seed, the birds returned...and if I understood  “Squirrel speak ”, I am almost certain that we are being cursed. Duck -7   Squirrel-6!!! 


Tatersmama said...

Anyone that industrious (and sneaky) probably deserves his own little spot of feed. Have you tried hanging another small feeder filled with squirrly foods (nuts, ears of dried corn etc) somewhere away from your main one, and letting him have the run of it? Maybe then he would leave the other one alone?
Or maybe!
Hmm...I wonder what squirrel tastes like?? ;) Nah, never mind - I couldn't!!

Bz said...

Do you have squirrels now?

Fruitcake Sandy said...

Maybe I'M the nut ... apparently I posted this story two years ago ... duh!!
Yes, we still have squirrels ... just no feeds now. I scattered the bird seed like I'm feeding chickens. I haven't fed the deer for sometime (Double E's) Expensive and Environmentally Incorrect !! Or so the city fathers say. We still have possums and tons of raccoons and an occasional fox or two.

Fruitcake Sandy said...

that should be "just no feeders now!"