When PBS began running the series "All Creatures Great and Small," I was an immediate fan. I just loved this charming series, gleaned from tales of a Yorkshire country veterinarian, James Herriot. Each week, we were treated to a new animal story intertwined with the human stories of Herriot, the two Farnon brothers--Siegfried and Tristan--with whom he worked, and the people of Yorkshire. I was so taken by these stories that I even tried to read the books on which they were based. I must confess Herriot's rendering of the thick Yorkshire accented English completely did me in, and I don't think I finished the book.
Lately, I feel as though I am living in an "all creatures" zone. It is completely of my own doing. All except the deer, of course. They have wandered in, bashed my one spruce tree, and sheered by hostas off to the ground. The other creatures have been invited into the space around our house by my feeding them. We even had our annual visit from the ducks who think our pool, with winter cover, is in fact a pond. The local guard dog is dispatched to dissuade them.
For many years, we had bird feeders, which I gradually gave up on. The refuse on the ground of sunflower shells made me a less than enthusiastic bird feeder. Then last year, we bought a new bird feeder, then another, and began feeding birds again. Buying a sunflower mixture has attracted a different set of birds, and lessened the number of shells falling on the ground. The tree cover has helped to discourage the swoop through flying of the peregrine.
Predictably, the squirrels soon discovered the bird feeders. They regularly raid the newly filled feeders, and I have yet to buy baffles to try to keep them out. I have taken another route--buying peanuts. After seeing a peanut wreath on RuthieJ's blog, I found one and dutifully filled it with peanuts.
Enter "my" squirrel. Perhaps you remember this fellow. This squirrel (I am convinced) is the one who caught my mini-snowball. Anyway, after emptying the bird feeders, he has begun to venture up onto the small deck next to our sunporch. Maybe the strategic placement of peanuts has encouraged him. In fact, he (I know this because I have seen his. . .ahem. . .equipment) comes up on the deck, stands up, curls one paw into his chest, and looks in the window. "Is the nice lady there who puts out peanuts?"
So, when I got the peanut wreath, I placed it within easy reach. Within seconds, it seemed, Mr. Squirrel (for some reason, I call him Alex) found the peanuts and proceeded to empty the WHOLE wreath, trip after trip after trip. I even ran out of peanuts, so my husband and I went shopping on Mother's Day to buy new bags of peanuts.
Now, Mr. Squirrel is making regular trips for peanuts. Sometimes he eats them right where he stands, leaving behind quite a mess. The spent peanut shells and husks have in turn attracted rabbits and cardinals, who peck away at the detritus.
All of this activity provides much entertainment or frustration for the two cats and one dog inside the sun porch.