Friday, October 9, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My

Okay, lets get this straight. I'm not really talking lions and tigers and bears, although I feel like I might as well have them in the backyard. Cats and squirrels and blue jays, oh my. My bird feeders are constantly under attack. The squirrel collar on the post of the feeder, the squirrel pepper powder scattered around the post, the flower pots on the deck railing and the 'squirrel proof' bird feeders do not deter already fat squirrels and cats whose owners forget that they live in town where cats are not free-roam. I can do nothing with the blue jays but stare at their beauty.

We had pests on the farm. I never saw rats, but my sisters swear we had them. I know we had mice. Rodent proofing was impossible in an old two-story log house; mice infiltrate. Of course, the barn was home to mice and birds. Dad would often chase away or cart off barn owls who loved to warm themselves in the dark recesses of the barn.

Occasionally, we were visited by larger creatures. Once while searching for the most recent batch of kittens, I started to reach into a barrel from whence (British roots) hissing occurred. I pulled back a piece of burlap to find a possum baring teeth at me. The scream heard around the world.

Raccoon would mosey around the chicken house hankering for an egg or two. Ground hogs would lumber along the creek resembling small bears. Once in awhile a skunk, who obviously had been conversing with the raccoon, would try to find breakfast as in the hen house as well. Hawks soared overhead looking for something small to carry away. And, a couple of times I had even seen a fox probably hoping to bypass the eggs and go straight for the chicken.

My predators are benign in comparison, yet I claim these birds as mine. The cat has a bowl at home, someone is feeding the squirrel corn and peanuts. (I know because I find them buried in my garden.) Some days I'm tempted to add a squirrel and a cat to my garden but refrain from violence. I could do what Dad used to do and sit with a shot gun waiting for a varmint to show up, but I don't believe in guns. Or maybe trap the critters and make little fur jackets for hairless dogs.

It is a quandary how man and beast should live together. I am gaining patience from this standoff as well as sprinting and leaping prowess in my attempts to foil bird-devouring efforts. Ah, lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Where the heck are my ruby slippers when I need them.

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