Squirrel Complains, Loudly

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Opinion, Outdoors on April 27, 2011

I just stepped outside for a few moments and was immediately assaulted by some very loud barking noises. I quietly closed the door and walked softly out on the deck a bit further. The sun was shining brightly, in my eyes of course, so I shielded them, until I could just make out the squirrel sitting up high on a pine tree branch, barking for all he was worth.

Squirrels actually have a wide range of noises and aside from the chorus of birds heard in the wee hours of morning, the squirrel is by far the loudest animal to visit. They romp around all day, getting into anything and everything. We finally broke down and attached hook latches to the roof of the bird feeder because the squirrels wouldn’t stay out of it. They would just remove the roof and help themselves.

He was making one heck of a racket about something. It was as if he was telling me how much he hated having Sandy, the cat, in his space, as the cat gently rubbed up against my legs. It was then the squirrel made it quite plain what he was upset about and I’m still not quite sure how he managed that.  We had a little chat, I let the cat back into the house and the squirrel went along his merry way, happy that she wasn’t on his deck.

Three deer dropped by this morning to give their regards. I tossed out a handful of carrots for them, which they greedily munched down without hesitation. They nibbled on some bird seed that had been scattered on the ground, then meandered on to where ever deer go when they aren’t here. It’s always nice to have them stop by for a visit.

One of the young does who stopped by, idled long enough to notice the hummingbird as it swooped in to sip a little nectar. Did I just imagine the deer admiring the hummingbird’s grace and beauty? Animals are so amazing; would that I had all day long to sit and ponder their being.

I can’t tell you just how refreshing it feels to get outside and soak up the sun and visit with the animals. They listen as I chatter on about the weather and I’m always careful to thank them for their visit. It’s always nice to have a little company drop by.

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Wild Turkey & Creatures

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on April 15, 2011

I have really been enjoying our mountain oasis. I call it an oasis but in reality it is more of a peninsula; a word I still can’t spell despite growing up in Michigan with its upper and lower peninsula – go figure.

Today, I stormed out the door, onto the deck with my normal over-exuberance and not only startled a wild turkey who sat perched on the edge of our deck rail but I was surprised to suddenly find myself 5-feet from a rather large bird. I had forgotten just how big turkeys can get. (We used to raise turkeys on our Curtice, Ohio farm a lifetime ago.)

This particular turkey has been visiting for a couple of weeks, stopping in, normally in the early evening hours. He was here bright and early this morning. Strange, she just doesn’t look that big in the pictures I’ve been taking, but up close is another story. I could see the texture of the birds wings as she sat preening herself. I’ve been trying to be more quiet when I step outside for a smoke break and what I’ve begun calling my mental health moments.

Our nervous flock of junco’s are finally getting used to me. They will stay and eat pretty close by if I stand relatively still. Of course, any significant movement causes them to get spooked and fly off in unison, which in itself is pretty neat to see and hear. The sounds around our deck can get incredibly loud at times and vary throughout the day depending on the birds and animals that have wandered in.

I try to keep water available on the property for the animals and I put bird seed out for the birds, as well as an occasional crust of bread. I keep dried corn on the cob for the squirrels, which they recently have enjoyed peeling off the cob — I have a small pile of it under the shepherd’s hook. I sprinkle bird seed on the ground from time to time, toss out some peanuts and almonds for the jay birds. Left over potatoes, apples, apple peels, lettuce and carrot scraps make tasty treats for the deer to enjoy.

I try to limit my offeringss to mostly things the animals can and do find in nature.

I’ve been reading some back issues of Birds and Blooms, which has some terrific ideas for making inexpensive homemade bird feeders. I enjoyed several articles and I am considering using some of the neat tips I’ve found. I am a little concerned to read articles about people training wild birds to eat from their hands. I think it’s important that we help the animals survive harsh winter weather. But, there is a huge difference between offering a little assistance to our backyard critters and creating dependence.

If we humans continue to interfere with the natural cycles of nature, we upset the delicate balance and natural order of things. Wild animals are just that — wild — and need to remain so. Hand feeding deer, birds and other wildlife simply isn’t natural and can lead to more harm than good for the animal.

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