Monday, May 21, 2012

A Monday Critter Story...!

You all know I like critters, right?

You also know that I like coffee, and somehow those two things kinda tie in together with this story!

One way or the other, the squirrel always rules

By Bruce Ward, The Ottawa Citizen May 18, 2012

One way or the other, the squirrel always rules, as columnist Bruce Ward learned.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, and I’m sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee. But I’m not feeling anything like mellow.

I’m on high alert, because this isn’t just coffee I’m holding. It’s a surface-to-air missile, suitable for throwing at squirrels.

My plan is to fling the coffee at the big grey squirrel that is vandalizing my upscale squirrel-proof bird feeder. Next time it comes bounding across the back lawn, I’m tossing the shade-grown, fair trade brew right between its beady eyes.

Coffee has become a sort of liquid Swiss Army knife — a useful tool in all sorts of tense urban situations. Last week, a gutsy woman used her coffee to fend off a sex pervert. Several days before that incident, two guys doused a fire at Parkdale United Church with coffee.

So coffee is my new weapon against LeBron, as I’ve named the grey squirrel in honour of basketball sensation LeBron James. The ­squirrel, like the NBA MVP, has an impressive vertical leap. It can jump above four feet straight up, no lie.

The bird feeder, which hangs in the backyard oak tree, is squirrel-proof only in theory. The lid has a twist-lock feature that makes it impossible for squirrels to pry off, unless they suddenly develop opposable thumbs. And the feeder’s ports close if anything heavier than the average bird stands on the circular platform.

But the feeder’s warranty doesn’t cover break-ins by squirrels who have ingenuity and a lot of time on their paws. LeBron has learned to position himself on the branch directly above the feeder. Then he shakes it like a Polaroid picture, to quote OutKast.

When the branch wobbles, birdseed flies out of the ports in all directions. It lands on the grass, where LeBron’s buddies are waiting. Sometimes, LeBron manages to shake the feeder out of the tree. I’ve watched him do this, and you can’t tell me squirrels don’t smile.

Once it’s on the ground, LeBron rolls the feeder to the fence as its entire contents spill out.

I tried sharing with the ­squirrels, leaving mounds of birdseed beneath the oak. My thinking was, if they’re aren’t hungry they won’t go after the feeder.

It didn’t work. Squirrels don’t do sharing.

I’m not one of those 60-somethings who are as crusty as a March snowbank and despise everything furry.

I forgave the rabbits who destroyed four shrubs over the winter, even though I had to dig up the dead plants with a short-handled shovel — a loathsome tool. Next fall, though, I’m wrapping the shrubs in burlap studded with industrial diamonds. Let’s see them chomp through that.

I also forgave the skunk who sliced open half the backyard lawn in search of grubs. Hey, the grubs were killing the lawn anyway so I didn’t mind paying about $100 for 10 bags of top dressing, plus fertilizer and enriched grass seed. Not that much, anyway.

With LeBron, though, it’s total war. I have moved the bird feeder out of the oak tree. It now hangs about five feet from the ground on a skinny shepherd’s hook pole. So far, LeBron hasn’t been able to shinny up the pole to get at the birdseed.

He has, however, hired a chipmunk to do it for him. The chipmunk scampers up the pole and onto the feeder. As it stuffs its cheeks, LeBron camps underneath the pole, gobbling up the spillage. I thought of greasing the pole with extra-virgin olive oil but that would be silly.

I was foolish to think I could outsmart a squirrel, I see that now.

Suppose I did manage to splash LeBron with coffee, what then? I expect he’d find a way to tell me that his preferred morning drink is a skinny caramel macchiato — with a zucchini walnut muffin on the side.

I haven’t filled the feeder for a few days, but I can’t hold out much longer. I already miss the cardinals, whose cheery visits have stopped. Besides, I spotted LeBron in the oak tree a while ago. He was chewing off buds that are about to open.

LeBron doesn’t even eat the buds, the swine. The message is clear: if I want leaves on the oak, I’ve got to come up with the birdseed.

I know this is rodent extortion. I also know when I’m beat.

Read more:

Just a fun way to start a Monday, don't you think?

Coffee on the patio again this morning. I have an appointment at the V.A., but just help yourself!


Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Oh, they are smart little critters!
Hubby hates them with a passion - calls 'em 'tree rats'! I think his left arm has turned into a pellet gun. I enjoy watching their antics as they are funny little creatures. We can't have bird feeders here because of the bears, but they do get into my gated and covered chicken run looking for some chicken feed snacks. The rooster, squawking with wings flapping, chases them around. It is just so much fun to watch!

Sixbears said...

Waste of good coffee. All we need are tree rats hepped up on cafine.

Ben in Texas said...

Grrr, TREE RATS!!! I actually saw the young one that recently spent the day trapped in my kitchen behind the washer!! Little SOB was on a training mission with an elder member of the Cult, doing recon on the oak tree and back porch. I may have to find me a dog. I'm thinking a cross breed, miniature alligator breed with a rat terrier. Hate Tree Rats

Jeannie said...

enjoyed your squirrel story...thanks for a good laugh this morning! I hate squirrels.

Momlady said...

I keep my BB pistol handy. Tree rats make good target practice.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Morning HJ, we have had a couple of squirrels around the yard, thankfully not too near the feeders which are on shepherd hooks. A fellow blogger, Grammie G. Recently posted a similar post about a varmint tree rat. Hope the VA hospital visit goes well.

John said...

I have seen squirrels drop walnuts out of trees on dogs. crafty creatures.

linda m said...

Thanks for a great laugh. So far those pesky "tree rats" haven't touched my feeders. I do have some raccoons that insist on eating my bird suet and now they have gone after the grape jelly I put out for the Baltimore Orioles. So that stuff comes inside every night. If there wasn't any food outside I wouldn't care but I live on a conservancy and I know there is plenty to eat out there.

JOJO said...

Great story. Yes they are smart little devils. They are fun to watch as long as they keep their distance.

I'll keep the pot going for you so you have some nice hot coffee ready for your return.

I know all will go well at the VA

Gorges Smythe said...

You've forgotten two very important things - pellet rifles and squirrel gravy!