Feeding the farmers

When we pulled back into the driveway after church yesterday morning, we caused a ruckus. A neighbor cat went flying, which was well and good. We’d rather it not hang around our yard at all, because we miss the wild rabbits. (We suspect our large California does as well.)

There also was great chatter from the trees, and we looked up to see how many squirrels were scolding us. Not too high above was the fattest squirrel we have ever seen. “We’re not feeding the squirrels,” I said. “We’re just feeding one.”

The car gets parked right by where we throw out feed. We gave up years ago on keeping squirrels out of the bird feed. Now we buy bird seed plus huge bags of cracked corn, and whoever wants it can have it. I also have taken to tossing out whatever might go to waste in our house. Last week it was some red grapes my kids had ignored past the point of human interest; less than half an hour later I saw the last ones being hauled away. Today it was hot dog buns as I cleaned out my freezer (note to fellow softball campers: Don’t send these home with us next year), and they too vanished quickly.

We call the squirrels the farmers because they plant corn seed all over the yard. Some of it gets mowed, but we left an especially tall plant at the corner of the house, and one year several plants adorned our garage gutter for a few months. For a while a corn plant grew up inside a butterfly bush, which made for an interesting silhouette.

We also have learned that squirrels get mites. We were very concerned about one who had lost most of his fur from roughly waist up, and went poking online to find out why. This winter we have a squirrel who clearly had mites earlier, because his waist-up fur is much shorter than the rest.

Our birds are mostly junkos, sparrows and mourning doves, with the occasional cardinal. I have found we aren’t getting the huge grackles, and just realized I haven’t seen much of them since the last of our pheasants died.

Well, we’ll enjoy the winter break from the greedy things, and I suspect the little birds will, too. But come spring we need pheasant chicks again. We miss the crowing.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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