Thursday, June 25, 2009

Critters and Our Stories About Them

We have had some new visitors this year. We put out a squirrel feeder in the fall in the back yard on our fence post. There were never any "patrons" and we never actually saw any squirrels back there. Sometimes we would see a chipmunk, but not often. So, after I potted up all my container gardens, I kept noticing dirt on the ground around them. I investigated to find that there were little holes in the dirt! There were apparently squirrels and chipmunks digging in them! This was happening in the front and the back. I wasn't sure how to handle this, so of course I googled. The websites all said that they are either looking to eat your bulbs (there weren't any in these pots) or they are looking for moisture. SO, I figured we were kind of inviting them in with all of our bird feeders. They said that the best way to deter them from digging in the pots and garden beds is to sprinkle red pepper flakes, like you see at the pizza places, on and around the pots. They say that you have to re-do this every few weeks because the smell wears off. So, we bought a huge thing of red pepper flakes and it has been working. But, I can always tell when they have worn off, those little stinkers. The website also suggested that you could provide them with a source of water. We also moved our squirrel feeder from the back to the front and attached it to our tree (see the picture of the feeder). Of course, the first Saturday after we moved the thing, we got up and went into the living room to see 2 squirrels sitting in our bird feeders out back! I wish I had gotten a picture before we scared them off. So, we made a home-made squirrel feeder for out back that consists of a piece of wood with a screw through it and a big hunk of nut suet stuck on there and bought a baffle for that shepherd's hook. It does look like it has been gnawed on, but not much. I even put a big hand ful of out good bird seed on there to attract them. The bird seed was all gone today without much missing from the suet thing. Oh well. The front squirrel feeder gets emptied every other day. I also put bowls of water out for them all, one out back and one under the tree out front. Of course our front porch looks crazy with red pepper flakes everywhere, but oh well. I am sure you have wondered what all the red dots were in all my plants.

One day last week, Scott was in the living room and heard a scratching at the back door. There was a squirrel scratching as if he wanted in. Both cats were sitting there watching him like they weren't sure what to think. Then, he ran over and got in the chair closer to our potted vegetables like he was thinking about climbing in, and decided not to. Finally, he tried to climb the shepherd's hook and ended up inside the baffle and wasn't sure what was going on. He kept climbing down and back up. Very strange. I wished I had seen it first hand, but Scott got pictures of him on the shepherd's hook.

We have a couple of beautiful sunflowers growing in our garden that were lovingly planted by a chipmunk or a squirrel. We always have them growing out from under the bird feeders, but I pull those up. These weren't in a bad place, so I let them grow. Here is a picture of the one that was blooming as of yesterday. You can see that there is a taller one behind it. It was starting to open up today. So pretty.

The other day, a chipmunk kept scary me while I was working in the garden putting out pine straw. Apparently, he travels from one side of the garden to the other in the drainage pipe that runs across the back of the garden. I heard him running through there once then suddenly it was quiet, so I just tried to ignore it. After I had just had enough time to forget about the noise, I hear it again and suddenly a chipmunk comes running out of the end of the pipe closest to me and runs across the walkway into the other side of the garden. I screamed out loud...then felt silly.

Okay, last critter story:

So, when we put the squirrel feeder under the tree, we noticed that the squirrels seem to like sunflower seeds and peanuts much better than the corn, which ended up on the ground under the tree. Scott asked me if the corn would grow, and I was like, nah!

Yesterday, I went out to pull weeds, dead head things, and water the pots. I walked up to the tree to check on the caladiums to realize that there were lots of things growing that weren't supposed to be.

I recognized the sunflowers trying to pop up from the squirrel food, but there was a new weed that was coming up that I didn't recognize.

This is what it looked like.

So, I pulled it up and this is what was attached to the end...a piece of corn! Great! There's corn trying to grow under our tree!

This is the face I made before I got down on my hands and knees and pulled up as many of them as I could find (both the corn and the sunflower seeds).

Needless to say, we are going to buy some in-the-shell peanuts and mix them with sunflower seeds and that is what the squirrels will be getting in the future.


Andy's Bethy said...

Your garden pictures are always so beautiful - I think it is hilarious that you have "help" from little critters. You should leave the corn growing... that would really be funny to have a crop of corn coming up in your front yard!
Beautiful job Marcy.

Marcy said...

Thanks Bethany!!