Saturday, July 14, 2007

Checking in

Since one of the daughters is visiting, I'll be scarce this weekend. But since that's what I usually am, this won't be a shock to anyone's system.

Meanwhile, I'd like you to meet my friend, Sam. Sam the squirrel. He stops by the camphor tree in the backyard once a day to see if I've left him anything. In this shot (make sure you enlarge so's you can see him) he's eating a pecan I tossed his way. I usually throw him a few at a time. He buries some and eats others.

By the way, Cedar's sitting on my lap as I write this. I swear to God he's purring. Some kind of dog purr. It's not constant but it's there. I'll probably put another picture of him up soon too.

Today I'm going to go lose...I mean play golf with the daughter. Then I'm going to mow the lawn and down a few German lagers while the steaks cook. I should be grading papers. Oh well.

Here's Sam:

30 comments:

Lydia McGrew said...

Our squirrels are, for some reason, a lot fatter up north than y'all's are down there. A friend of mine who lives in Mississippi comments on this whenever she visits us. Sam looks like he needs lots of pecans, so it's a good thing he's getting them.

Then again, maybe our squirrels will get skinny, too, if this no-rain stuff continues. I think I'm becoming an expert on what almost-rain looks like. Today there were a couple of drops coming down, and the weather on Yahoo said, "Conditions: Light rain Humidity: 59%" See--now I know what it looks like for the humidity to be only 59% when it's *actually raining*.

By the way, have you heard about the spy squirrels captured in Iran? I am not making this up, though I suppose somebody might be hoaxing me. The Iranians said they had "spy equipment" on them but were stopped by Iranian security. I'll bet they were Zionist squirrels.

William Luse said...

Sam's not full grown yet. I think I found his mother dead under the lugustrum hedge. Not a mark on her, just dead. I buried her under a section of tree trunk I use for bordering purposes so the cats couldn't dig her up. He's got a little brother or sister and I think they're having to go it on their own.

Could be a hoax, but sounds like something they'd say and expect the world to be impressed. If I were an Iranian, I'd sure sleep a lot better at night knowing my security forces can stop any spy squirrel you throw at them.

TS said...

The neighbors put up fake owls in order to scare away the squirrels. (Why?) We put out corn cobs for them. They are happy squirrels. Our dog never tires of trying to catch them despite going oh-for-ten thousand...

Lydia McGrew said...

Can't you just picture the squirrels laughing their heads off at the fake owls? Reminds me of the picture in the Beatrix Potter story "The Tale of Two Bad Mice" where the father mouse is showing the mousetrap to all his little mice and teaching them about it. Dad Squirrel: "See that owl, son? It's fake. Watch it and you'll see it never moves. Those stupid humans think we'll be scared of it. Now c'mon. Let's go get those veggies!"

TS said...

Yeah I think squirrels are smarter than we think. I know mice are. We set a trap for them, a sort of "mouse hotel" where they go in and can't get out - we then release them into the wild - and by day 2 they figured out how to eat the peanut butter without getting trapped. Go figure that our house cats are of zero help.

William Luse said...

If you have real player, you can find on this page links to 3 video excerpts from a 1995 Discovery channel program illustrating the squirrel's ingenuity in navigating an obstacle course. In one, he actually crawls up inside a vending machine to steal a candy bar.

I also have a resident rat, for whom I experience no affection, and am still deciding what to do about him.

Lydia McGrew said...

_Where_ do you have a resident rat? I hope he's outside, anyway. I should think your dog might have something to say about a rat. On the other hand, it might not be safe for the dog to try to catch it.

William Luse said...

I don't have a dog. The dog belongs to my daughter, who has returned home. I miss him a lot. And her too.

alaiyo said...

All I gotta say is, the papers won't go anywhere. :) I hope you left them alone and enjoyed your family!

As for squirrels, it's true that they play chicken with cars . . . I see them high-fiving each other on a regular basis as I barely keep the car under control on our neighborhood curves . . .

William Luse said...

I once saw a mouse drop - 'jump' would be more accurate - from an overhanging oak limb 30 feet to the pavement in front of my car. He hit the ground running.

I think I'm going to have to kill the rat.

Lydia McGrew said...

By all means, kill the rat. Just don't get hurt yourself. Nasty critters. You wouldn't want him to find a lady rat and start multiplying. Ick.

alicia said...

How are you on rabbits? We have a few in our yard, and as long as they leave my vegetables alone I won't complain. We also have squirrels, chipmunk, all sorts of birds, and who knows what all else. This used to be prairie and I have never lived in the midst of such a profusion of wildlife before - not even in a college dorm.

zippy said...

I've been surprised by the animosity that suburban people seem to feel toward squirrels, to the extent of inspiring a whole YouTube series. I had an injured/rescued one as a pet for a while as a kid. Happy and loyal little fellow; hung around for a long time after we let him go. Bill will be happy to know that we named him Strider after a Tolkien character.

I don't "get" the hostility. I tend to like animals more than I like most people (though I'm partial to a good ribeye too). But then that is probably obvious.

William Luse said...

I would find it hard to kill a rabbit, even if it multiplied like one. I hear they're pretty good eatin', but that's just hearsay.

Lydia, maybe soon I'll tell you the story of how I used to go rat hunting.

William Luse said...

Btw, Lydia, those cardinals I told you about over at WWwtW were sporting about in the plum tree yesterday when I took Cedar out for a run in the back 40. Today I looked closely at the tree and saw a nest. Got a ladder and climbed up to have a look. Nothing in it. My hope is that the little one hatched and is now on his own, but I doubt it. The nest seems to have been there a while, but you'd think I'd have noticed it before. The tree's a thing with tangly, close-set branches and a few thorns, but nothing that could deter a bluejay. I'll keep an eye on it. Maybe it's just built and they haven't laid the egg yet.

William Luse said...

I tend to like animals more than I like most people And I thought I was the only one.

Lydia McGrew said...

Isn't it a bit late in the season for eggs or babies in the nest? I don't know a lot about that, but my impression (from the notes on the back of my cardinal photograph calendar) is that cardinals nest early in the spring, so the babies would be reared by now until next year. I wd. think this would be even more the case in the South, where spring comes early.

Zippy, I can't understand the hatred of squirrels either, unless they got into your attic or started chewing up some part of your house. Then you'd definitely want them out. But being hostile to squirrels around here would be a huge waste of energy and time. They're ubiquitous. We're just lucky they've always minded their own business, so we can regard them as cute.

I think chipmunks are cute, too, but was at wits' end last fall when one started on an apparently deliberate campaign to kill my one and only miniature rose bush. He industriously dug up all the dirt from under its roots, tunneled all around under it--just to make sure the roots would freeze in the very cold winters we get here--and chewed it completely down until it looked like it was going to disappear. Fortunately (sounding like a commercial) I found Shake-Away, which smells like fox, and this appears to have driven him at least far enough away that the rose is back and unchewed this year.

Paul Cella said...

Allow me to try to justify the hatred of tree-rats ... ahem, squirrels.

They are persistent destroyers of gardens, berries and fruit-trees. At my parents' house out in Denver, they descend on my mom's carefully-tended garden and eat the immature cherries, apples, strawberries and raspberries. Lettuce and vegetables are regularly violated in brazen ways. Once one of the little punks gnawed through the window screen in the kitchen and got into the peanut butter.

Our general strategy has been to shoot them with the pellet gun, pumped only a couple times. Gives 'em a good stinging, but does little lasting damage. A man's got to be able to defend his garden, right?

Zippy: my wonderful dog from childhood was named Strider. Best dog I've ever met.

Lydia McGrew said...

Well, yeah, that's the thing about all these cute critters. They're fine if you _don't_ have anything they destroy. Like me with the chipmunks and the rose bush. And I suppose if you have a vegetable garden and fruit trees you're simply asking for trouble. I'd think birds would get the fruit, too, like crazy. I've no idea how you would even start protecting it from all the animals and birds out there. You'd feel like Mr. McGregor with Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.

But the squirrel chewing through the screen is a new one on me. I'm surprised he wasn't a little more hesitant to face the humans. But that's where I would get hostile. Wild animal comes into my house; wild animal is now my enemy. I wonder if the lynx stuff from Shakeaway would work with squirrels? (Yes, they have lynx as well as fox.)

William Luse said...

I have several citrus trees, varied shrubs and flowers, occasional vegetables, none of which the squirrel touches. The oak, camphor, mulberry and other trees in the area seem to supply him with all he needs. The birds like to peck at the citrus, but the trees are so bountiful I let them take their share. Squirrels will, however, gnaw on screens and other household components if they contain lead. I went up on the roof one day and noticed that the outer covering of the vent pipes was badly damaged. I was baffled for a time until a roofer told me it was the squirrels. I was strangely impressed by the fact rather than angered.

zippy said...

It is gonna sound like I am making this up, but I had a pet rat as a kid too.

I was strangely impressed by the fact rather than angered.

Yeah, it isn't killing them when necessary that I don't get, nor even the relative gravity of various reasons for doing so. After all, I've gone to Newfoundland and come home lighter by one bullet and heavier by one moose, without any real need to fulfill which would justify it. It is the animosity I don't get. When you start talking to (some) suburban people about squirrels, a wave of pure hatred hits you in the face. I don't get it.

William Luse said...

I don't believe Paul Cella really hates squirrels. I refuse to believe it.

Squirrels are clever, resourceful, and admirable creatures. The differences in personality, behavior, and appearance separate them clearly from rats. I don't really hate rats, either, who are probably the quintessential mammalian survivors. But I know what I'm dealing with. Their presence among men has never been of any obvious benefit (except in the laboratory), and most often harmful. There's a reason they're called vermin.

Lydia McGrew said...

The big differences (aside from sentimental things like cuteness) are

a) squirrels don't fight with dogs under ordinary circs. but rather run away up trees, hence your dog won't catch an unpleasant and fatal liver disease from a squirrel, as he might very well do if he has much to do with rats

b) squirrels' fleas have never caused an epidemic of bubonic plague in humans (that I know of)

c) squirrels for the most part (though with some exceptions) seem happy enough to live outside in trees, whereas rats are famous for infesting human dwellings and buildings.

William Luse said...

This is all true. Cuteness helps too.

zippy said...

Yes, but when your pet rat chases off a strange snake you will appreciate him too. I have the impression that rats are smarter than squirrels: that makes them more like humans, which is to say more likely to be a genuine nuisance if the one in question is not your loyal friend. A squirrel however will never sit contentedly for an hour on your shoulder while you whittle with your pocketknife: he always has other places to go, other things to do, though if he is your friend he will visit frequently. Plus the rat's scaly tail has a tendency to creep out adults and girls and keep their unwelcome attentions at bay, whereas a tame squirrel has the opposite effect. I think a pet rat - especially one who befriends your dog and will ride about on the dog's back - is a wonderful pet for a young boy.

Granted I'm much happier with stranger-squirrels around than with stranger-rats though.

Lydia McGrew said...

Zippy, was this pet rat the white kind that people buy for their kids in pet stores, or was it just an ordinary wild rat that you happened to tame? If that latter, then I say "ewwwww" in a girl voice. If the former, then presumably he was clean and free of disease, etc.

Zippy, where _are_ ya' over on WWWtW?

zippy said...

Disease-free pet rat, yes ma'am.

I'm still having a nomadic summer: I've seen my own house for only a few days in the last month and a half, it seems like. I've read a lot of what I normally read on-line, but I've commented much less (including at my own place).

William Luse said...

I have the impression that rats are smarter than squirrels

No way. Nonoway. I can see it in their eyes. A squirrel, btw, is called a scatterer-hoarder. He can bury things in 50 different places not in proximity to each other and remember them all.

Bernadette said...

Please don't kill the rat, dad. He's not doing you any harm, so why harm him?

William Luse said...

At this writing, he's still alive. Unless a cat got him. Haven't seen him in a few days.