March 14, 2017

Squirrels in the attic!

Squirrels in the attic!

Ahh… the pitter-patter of little feet.

In the South, we eat squirrels. Squirrel jambalaya… squirrel stew… barbequed squirrel… almost as many varieties as Bubba and Forrest Gump’s shrimp recipes.

But we don’t shoot those in our yard. They live a worry-free life compared to those in the woods. They’re beautiful little things (as long as you don’t think about how they’re actually mice with fluffy tails—rats with fluffy tails if you live in Texas, where, of course, everything is bigger).

One of my novels inspired by real events (DELUSIONS OF THE HUMAN KIND):

It was fall, dew heavy on the old Live Oak and pecan trees that shaded the cabins, and a slight flitter of wind slid water off the leaves and pinged the tin roof like sheets of heavy rain. When taupey-gray squirrels hopped onto the roof to pick up the night’s fallen nuts, some of them almost too big to mouth, George’s boys sneaked back into the cabin for their slingshots, and took to shooting rocks at blackbirds. George’s lips curled up with parental contentment at the thought of his children. “Course, watch now, when they get bored, they goin’ start shootin’ at squirrels for dinner.

“It ain’ right to kill critters when they feedin’ they family,” he shouted to the boys, “It’s same as shootin’ ducks on the water. Ain’ no sport in it!”

“Now, just you watch, Ma’am, and watch Ito—tha’s what we call Antonio—he goin’ lead my oldest boy, Rampar’, back to the pecan grove, figurin’ squirrels out there’s different.

“Yes’m, they momma sure can cook up some good squirrel stew and greens come Sundays.”

We hang squirrel feeders in our trees to make their lives easier. We don’t collect fallen acorns. We leave a few pecans for the critters. But critters they are, and, squirrels living overhead, well, that’s another issue.

A few years back, after a neighbor plugged what looked like a mouse hole in his garage wall, the squirrels who once lived there made the short trip to the wooden fence that led to my roof. Though I never discovered each and every loose board through which they gained entry, they set up residence in my attic, right above the desk where I was trying to write the next Great American Novel. Pitter-Patter Be Damned!

While they lived with my neighbor, I loved to sit on my porch with my morning coffee each spring and watch mothers teach their children how to run along the fence.

While they lived with my neighbor, I hung cobs of corn from a tree and watched them swinging, dangling upside-down for their breakfast.

While they lived with my neighbor, they were cute.

I never did get rid of the little critters.

What’s your critter story? Add to this blog here:

Virginia Tell

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Lisa Babincsak - May 7, 2017 Reply

Most of the year, with the exception of winter, my backyard is my sanctuary. It has a covered patio which is filled with cascading potted plants, a flowing fountain and vertical planters covering the walls. There are multiple bird feeders and bird houses surrounding the patio and throughout the yard. I initially put the bird feeders up as stimulation for Theo & Genevieve, who are strictly indoor cats. Though they enjoy watching the birds and squirrels, I think I derive even more pleasure in observing the endless parade of critters that inhabit and visit my yard. As a true animal lover, part of that joy comes in caring for them. There is always a constant food supply for the birds and squirrels.

Last fall, as I went to get the critter food from my garage to refill the squirrel feeder, it appeared a mouse had eaten through the bag. There was a hole in the bag and the food was spilling into the cabinet. I grabbed the rest of the bag. As I dumped the remainder of the bag into the feeder…much to my surprise, I dumped the mouse with it! He was sleeping in the bag. He woke as I dumped him and ran off. He was the tiniest little mouse I’d ever seen!

The next week, while I was on a business trip, my boyfriend decided to clean up the mess in the cabinet where the food had spilled from the bag. He said the tiny mouse had built quite a house in the cabinets. It was like a 3-story condo. The mouse didn’t want to leave. He lingered as William cleaned around him.

I was worried about the mouse. He was SO tiny and it was getting really cold at night. When I returned, I decided to make a house for the tiny mouse. I lined a nice sized cardboard box with aspen shavings and bought a little wood hamster house I purchased at Petco. A hole was cut into the side of the box so he could easily get in and out. And of course, I put a portable heater in the garage to keep him warm through the winter.

His house is always stocked with bird seed mixed with bacon grease and fresh water. He occasionally gets some cheddar cheese as a treat.

As with any animal I’ve ever rescued…I named him. His name is Leopold and his little cardboard house is 1 Cheddar Lane.

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