SUMMERTIME and the living is easy. Living in the summer isn’t so easy as the song goes for the old man and the old woman. It’s been kinda interesting for me to watch them especially the way they handle day to day problems. It’s amazing what they come up with!?! Now this particular summer the country squirrels were becoming stressors for this old couple. Now I’ll have to stop for a moment and share my opinion of country squirrels. They are quite a bit smarter than city park variety of squirrels who lounge around eating leftovers from the many amblers. Now these country squirrels are hardy creatures with great intuitiveness. They stay one step ahead of the countryfolk!
So now, I’ll continue with an example episode with the old woman and man and these country squirrels. I’ll have to give a little background here. Since their retirements the old man and woman have been more aware and caring for birds. The old woman has enjoyed just sitting around listening to them. We have bird interests in common, ...well, not quite. Since this bird watching became a pastime, the old woman invested in a beautiful bird feeder. Being aware of squirrels and other climbing critters, she had the old man build a pole with a Metal platform on it hoping to deter the climbing yard varmints. She learned the first week that squirrels are sort of acrobats! They would swing around the pole and leap the from the platform to the bird feeder. The old couple would notice squirrels gathering at the foot of the pole munching away.
As always, the old woman googled how to keep squirrels away from bird feeders. She found a list of plants that squirrels don’t like. She planted mints at the bottom of the pole $5, a geranium and an asparagus fern to hang on either side of the bird feeder $20 which required two hangers $20, and a new bag of bird feeder $20. The old man wanted to count his labor on the this project as $100!! The squirrels didn’t really follow google suggestions!! They took running leaps over the mints, around the pole, and leapt toward the feeder. I don’t know if they held their breath, but the smells of those plants didn’t seem to phase them. So, for now, the old woman planted flowers Google said that birds loved and the feeder just dangled there. Where the squirrels have dumped the seeds there are actually plants and flowers growing. Who knows maybe the birds and squirrels have found a middle ground.
After the bird feeder episode the summer moved on rather peacefully until August. What a time we all had in August!!! It all started with the back porch being covered with nuts from two adjoining hickory nut trees. The old woman had a time trying to keep the porch swept. She was at a loss of what to do! She figured that she was getting exercise with all this sweeping. But now .....when the old man began to be hit in the head with nuts War was declared on the squirrels!!
Now early in the morning the old man was at his post on the porch with a pellet gun.
The fact that the old man’s eyesight was becoming poor didn’t help in this face-off. Just between you and me--these squirrels seemed a bit smarter. Country animals must get more vitamins, thus they have bigger brains than the city variety. Of course, this was the speculation of the old woman. (You remember Prevention magazine -- she sure does put a lot of stock in that magazine) The weather had been mild for a couple of years giving an edge to the squirrels’ side. The old man said it must have been vitamin S with their reproduction rate!! This was a bumper year for squirrels and nuts! Boy were they good aims at the old man’s head! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory needed these critters.
Now the old man should have come close to hitting one, but these squirrels seemed to have a plan and seemed to be enjoying themselves. If he left his post, a whole group gathered in those trees over the porch. I could hear them chatter up a storm. They must have had a special lookout for the old man. When he came out of the house or workshop they scattered to all around the surrounding trees. I’m supposing their eyesight was better than the old man’s. When we came out the back door and weren’t watching, they continued throwing nuts at us!!!
I decided until the action calmed down I would watch from the window inside. They had an advantage on me by their being so far up in the trees. There didn’t seem like a remote chance I could help with getting these critters. So why would I risk being knocked out?
The old woman did her part in the battle by trying to clip branches from the upper porch. I prayed she wouldn’t fall over the railing and be buried in nuts! Other than that, she continued sweeping up the nuts and taking them to the burn pile. She was willing to bring the old man coffee and newspapers to his station on the porch. Now she had found a gumbo recipe that called for squirrel , but she wasn’t really concerned to save it since the old man seemed to be losing this war!!
I didn’t know when we might have a truce or white flag coming out. They were persistent on both sides of this engagement. Their strategies continued to develop. The old woman, man, and I tried different doors to exit the house. The squirrels sent scouts different directions of the yard. The birds who were still annoyed at the squirrels for capitalizing on bird seed tried to help out by flying the direction of the trees where the squirrels were hiding, but to no avail. I thought about posting on FB for open squirrel hunting from our back porch, but I decided this was a private war.
Our neighbor had gotten some entertainment with our dealings with armadillos, but she put a chair on her porch now for these skirmishes with the squirrels. I was wondering at night how the armadillo trap would work loaded with nuts. Perhaps we had ordered a squirrel trap instead of armadillo trap. I was doubtful of any plan I came up with. I could help with moles, but my white flag had long been up with these country squirrels! There was never a dull moment. Guess it was a reason to get out of bed??
As time went on I’m supposing with season changes and boredom on both sides, the war ended with a “Cold “ War! The old couple prayed for a cold winter that would take its toll on the squirrels and contemplated cutting down the two hickory nut trees before next summer. They finally were coming up with some reasonable response to these gutsy combatants!! They were happy to store that pellet gun for another season and have a more settled life with their coffee and reading on the inside. We all continued though to be entertained by all these country critters.