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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

No Respect

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Although my father-in-law Jack truthfully cannot be called an animal lover, he has a kind heart when it comes to dealing with any living creature.

For many years, he planted a large garden in which the local wild animals spent many fulfilling hours. Jack set out large traps; almost every day he would capture an opossum, a raccoon or even a skunk. Instead of killing the thieving critters, he drove them to the countryside and released them. I suspect that they took the local bus back to their favorite dining site.

Like her father, my wife Bev is kind to our outdoor neighbors. She especially enjoys putting out food for the birds. What she doesn’t like, however, are the other critters stealing the birds’ food.

The worst culprit is a squirrel that I have named Sammy. Bev is extremely intelligent, but somehow Sammy always finds a way to outsmart her. She has about as much chance against Sammy as Elmer Fudd has against Bugs Bunny or the coyote has against the roadrunner.

By hanging the bird feeder from the drainage spout of the house, Bev believed that she had squirrel-proofed the situation. However, after this brilliant tactical move, one of us would look out the window only to see Sammy once again sitting on top of the feeder, enjoying his meal.

In a fit of anger, Bev would chase him off with her broom only to see him reappear at suppertime.

Smug in the belief that she had a huge brainpower advantage over the squirrel, Bev moved the swing to the other side of the porch so that Sammy couldn’t use it to climb to the feeder. She was pretty proud of herself until later that evening when we saw the squirrel once again sitting on top of the bird feeder filling his jaws with seeds.

As far as Bev was concerned, there was no longer any way for Sammy to get on top of that feeder, but lo and behold, there he was, nevertheless. One evening I discovered how the little critter got up there. He simply climbed onto the porch, stood just to the side of the feeder, crouched, and then gave an unbelievably mighty leap. Putting the feeder five feet above the porch level was not enough to keep the little guy from the goodies.

One summer, Bev was convinced that deer were eating her flowers so following a friend’s advice, she covered them with pepper (the flowers, not the deer). Evidently the deer, at least the ones in our neighborhood, love to spice up their food. The flowers continued to get eaten.

Our yard has been invaded by moles. I tap down their tunnels only to discover the next day that the old ones are back and a few new ones have been added. A friend told Bev that the best way to destroy moles is to put kitty litter in the opening of their tunnels. Well, she put several pounds of litter into the ground, but the little critters continued to thrive.

Another “expert” then told Bev that the very, very best way to destroy moles is to put bubblegum into their holes. That didn’t work, either. I kept looking out the window, half expecting the ornery critters to be sitting on our plateau blowing bubbles.

Evidently the animals around here have some kind of communications system; I wouldn’t be surprised to see them with tiny cell phones. Anyway, I figure that Sammy Squirrel told his old buddy, Rocky Raccoon, about the goodies located just above Bev’s back porch.

One night, while watching TV, I happened to glance out the window. There on the porch was fat old Rocky, filling his stomach with tasty seeds that Sammy earlier had knocked from the feeder.

Bev was not too happy when I later informed her of this latest food thief. To make matters worse, the raccoon left a rather large deposit on the porch. When it comes to wildlife, just like the late Rodney Dangerfield, Bev gets no respect.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I gave up on feeders years ago. Now, I feed birds in the winter on trays, and the squirrels get in on the meals too. They can outsmart even the best minds!

I should have said better minds than mine!

Because of my husband, our bird feeder is never empty. I haven’t heard him complain about the squirrels lately getting up on the feeder. I’ll have to ask. I enjoy watching the birds as well as the squirrels eating the food that’s dropped to the ground.

The tomatoes planted this past summer were apparently enjoyed by some animal. It became a race to see who got the ripe one first. Someone suggested that I save the hair after combing my cats and spread it around the planting area. I’ll try that next summer.

Great story!

I really enjoyed your story, Mickey. I laughed all the way through it as Bev was outsmarted time after time.

I quit feeding the birds when a big rat ran across my patio to feast on the seeds. I was encouraging the wrong critters.

Mickey, keep your camera handy. You've got a terrific "NATURE" documentary waiting to be shot.

We to had a squirrel problem at our bird feeder. Our local old-fashioned hardware started carrying a new brand of birdfeeders. Top-of-the-line for the brand had a trigger on it. When an animal heavier than a bird stepped on the perch just below the feeder holes, the trigger released and that part of the feeder twirled round and round until the larger than a bird critter was thrown off and it went back to being a normal bird feeder. The trigger reset itself.
The one we bought was less expensive. It did not have a trigger and a merry-go-ride under the holes. It had a ledge for the birds to stand on while they were eating. It was cleverly attached so that if a heavier critter reached for it and thought it would let them eat, they too were in for a surprise. With the extra weight went down when they stepped or jumped on it, at the same time closing the lid on the feeder holes. It has mostly solved our thieving problems. Of course this summer we had a huge mother coon who jumped on the top and was heavy enough to knock the whole feeder down, opening the top of the feeder to spill out the seeds so anything could eat them. It only happened once so I do not think this cheaper model is foolproof.
Enjoyed your story about man against critters very much.
Michigan Grandma

Up here in Alaska, it's the bears that raid the bird feeders. In Anchorage, it's a crime to have bird feeders in the summer because of the bears. Perhaps you saw news videos today of the bear cub walking across the produce in a grocery store in Ketchikan?

Loved your story. It reminded me of all my battles with the wildlife. I love and encourage them and then get upset when they don't follow my rules.
It's ongoing fun and frustration.

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