Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

Posts tagged ‘squirrels’

Lying In Wait For Birds

I was washing dishes one afternoon last week and saw this in our backyard:

Extreme focus…on bird or squirrel?

We would prefer the cats out of our yard because my son and husband are allergic (our son even more so–hives from fur, dander, saliva), plus the darn things like to use any bare area/spot in the lawn as their own kitty litter box, especially the areas right next to our house. Ugh. Curse this sandy soil in Florida!!

What was amusing, however, was where this cat decided to lie down in our yard. See that pole in front of him? This is what it belongs to:

Lying in wait for birds.

Yup, that’s right. He was lying in wait for birds under our “new” homemade bird feeder stand. By the time we got the camera, he shifted his focus onto us. By the way, my husband made that steel baffle because the squirrels were climbing up the metal pole (it’s one used for plants) and jumping onto the bird feeders!

This cat isn’t interested in the bird seed. He wants to jump up and catch any one of the many bluejays, doves, wrens, and cardinals that visit our bird feeders. Little stinker!

Do you have any unexpected visitors to your backyard?

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

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Who’s Been Sleeping…Errr…Digging Up My Flower Beds?

I’m surprised I haven’t shattered our windows and given myself a bloody hand when I bang on them to scare these rascals away from my plants and flower boxes. Tapping no longer works. Unfortunately, they just keep coming back but man, can they jump!

I’ve been trying to capture a photo of the dirt-digging, dirt-flinging perpetrators for a while now. Finally, I got one!!! I actually ended up with a series of photographs.

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To dissuade these guys, I’ve tried chili powder in a soap spray, and a peppermint soap spray, all to no avail. Cute as they are, these darn squirrels keep coming back and digging up my flowers anywhere I plant: in window boxes, in containers on my porch, even the flowers I plant in the ground are dug up!

I know that sometimes they are burying the acorns from the oak tree in our front yard but most of the time, they’re not carrying anything in their tiny scrawny hands. I swear they can’t remember where the hell they’ve planted their stash, and they don’t care what they dig up to find it.

There are so many sandy holes in my yard, you could play miniature golf for hours.

For this reason, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have any kind of garden without some sort of cage around it to keep the squirrels out. Back to the drawing board…or sketch pad!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Persistence Pays Off…For Two Generations!

Two Sundays ago, I knocked on my neighbor’s door to let her know about a water main break in the front of her house, in case she wasn’t aware of it. She did know about it and had, indeed, called our city utilities company.  Since it was a main water pipe, not the one that goes directly into her house, it was the city’s responsibility to fix it.  They said they would be out this past Thursday to fix it.  They wouldn’t come out sooner unless neighbors complained about losing water pressure.

When I saw my other neighbor looking at the steady stream of water running down her curbside to the drain down the street, I informed her of the situation.  Since she lives right next door to where the main pipe was broken, I was surprised that she wasn’t told by her neighbor about the status of the leak and the water pressure issue.  I mean, we’re a neighborhood, right?

Thursday came and went with no activity.  By Friday afternoon, I thought I’d give our utilities company a call to find out the status of the scheduled repair.  I was quite irked because they make it a point of emphasizing to our community NOT to waste water.  We’ve been in a very long drought and are always reminded not to water our lawns during the day, water only twice a week on certain days and at certain times.  We’re also encouraged to wash cars on our lawn so the grass can get some water at the same time.

This leak was wasting water, 24 hours a day for seven days…an entire week!  I called a few numbers to get a contact name and number.  When I called the contact, I wasn’t surprised to get his voice mail.  I left my first name, the name of our neighborhood, the address of where the leak was, the length of time water had been running out into the street and down the drain, and that we were told it would be repaired the day before…and it wasn’t.  I politely asked if we could find out when it would be repaired because it’s such a waste of water, and left my phone number.

Two or three hours later, I called again because, after all, it was Friday and I really didn’t want the water running for another full weekend and didn’t want to wait two more days to find out when it would be repaired.  This time, in my message, I mentioned, “I’d like to be able to tell my neighbors something before the weekend starts. Thank you.”

How did he get into the bird seed? Persistence!!

At a little after 8:00pm, my husband and I heard a heavy and deep noise down the street and saw lights.  The city utilities trucks had arrived!  I’d like to think it was my polite reminders and the fact that I mentioned the whole neighborhood on the conversation that got them to move on it.  Whether they had “forgotten” about this water main break or already had it scheduled for after-hours, I don’t know but I think my phone calls did give them a nudge.

By 1:19am, (after also breaking a main gas pipe, turning off our gas and twelve neighbors’ gas, fixing THAT pipe, then coming around to turn our gas back on and lighting our water heater pilot lights), I could hear them finishing up with the water main break, and trucks driving off.  Success!! 😀  One person can make a difference!

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I live my life with this motto in mind so recently, I was quite proud when our son came home a couple of weeks ago from his job as a server and wanted to call the police.

You see, he had almost had an accident (thank heavens for his quick reflexes!!) because a road sign had been hit and bent at a right angle directly into the road.  He would have been decapitated had he not swerved in time!  It was around 2am, I think, when he woke me up to find out how to call the police.  Of course, my mind jumped to something horrifying and he quickly said, “I’m okay, I just need to tell them about a danger.”  He was concerned someone was going to get hurt and rightfully so.

He had already gone back into the restaurant where he worked to warn them about it since it was on their way home.  While he thought someone from the restaurant was going to call the police, he wanted to make sure the police knew exactly what the danger was and where, so he wanted to call them himself.

We scoured and scoured the blue government pages in the phone book and couldn’t find a regular phone number for the police, so we called 911.  He told them it wasn’t an emergency but his phone call could prevent an emergency.  He gave the operator all the pertinent information, described his close-call, and the next day, the sign had been removed and as far as I’m concerned, lives were saved.

Our son could have easily given up looking for the right phone number or just be thankful for arriving home safely, but he persisted and chose to call 911 and inform someone who could fix the problem.  We’re so proud of him.

To me, it’s proof that people do care…about their community, their loved ones, the quality of life, and the lives of strangers.

If you’ve been persistent in your life when it comes to a personal project, or craft project, or strangers, or your community, your family, your dreams, and your persistence has paid off in a positive way, I’d love to hear your solutions and your stories!  Please share in the comments.  Thanks! 😀

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

Window Boxes vs. a Garden

Red Hibiscus - We still have this plant!!

While living in apartments, I was successful growing cherry tomatoes in an outdoor container (we had a south-facing, full-sun front door).  That same location was also great for hibiscus as long as I kept the plant adequately fertilized.  I have, however, missed having a full vegetable garden.

So when we bought our first house 10 years ago, I couldn’t wait to plan and plant our first full-size vegetable garden.  But first, we had to deal with the trees.  I call them ‘balls-on-a-stick’ pine trees because they are tall pine trees with hardly any branches until the top. Then they form kind of a ball of branches and needles.  It really does look like a ball on a stick.  And the needles?  They are LONG, at least 12-16 inches in length!  We spent months getting rid of the three-foot deep side yard of pine needles when we moved in.

The trees, themselves, were dangerous in many ways.  A lot of them were very close to the house.  In fact, you could step on either our front or back porch and casually reach out and touch the trees.  Their pine cones, when green and dense, would come plummeting down from above, and my son and I almost got hit a few times while walking in our yard.  Also, during any sort of windy storm, parts of dead branches would literally spear themselves into our roof.  After a few patches, my husband was getting tired of repairing our roof and I worried about even larger branches crashing right through it.

One day, during a particularly active thunder and lightning storm, a HUGE lightning strike zapped the tallest pine tree in our yard.  The tree removers guesstimated it was about 130 feet tall, almost too tall for them to remove.  That strike scored a winding trail down that tree and I waited with bated breath to hear and feel the crash of the entire tree (or a very large branch) smash onto our house.

We were lucky, nothing fell but that strike took out our a/c, fried the motor on our dishwasher and my computer modem, fried the two phone chargers…everything but the fax machine (go figure!).  When we took a look around the yard, we noticed scars of previous lightning strikes on a number of the trees and it was decided:  the trees had to go.

We spent thousands of dollars removing 29 trees and felt much safer both indoors and out.  I was thrilled with finally getting some sun in our yard for my garden when we discovered roots!  Oh, the roots in our yard!!  They were everywhere and ran barely one-to-two inches below the soil and deeper.

Ok, let’s face it, it’s not soil here in Florida, it’s sand.  Every time we tried to dig, we were jolted to a stop by a root.  Some were only 1/2-inch in diameter but others were up to five-to-six inches in diameter!  We also discovered the soil was in very poor condition due to the acidity of the pine needles.  I had to reconsider growing a traditional vegetable bed.

I decided on raised beds and some container gardening but then the recession hit and the vegetable garden had to wait.  However, I wasn’t giving up altogether.  I designed simple window boxes for flowers.  Beautiful flowers!

See how much fuller the left side is of these Red Impatiens? That side gets the morning sun. 🙂

It was a family project.  I explained the design to my husband, he built them and secured them to the house, our son painted them and helped me staple in the liners.  I filled them with soil, then planted and watered the flowers...and Voila!

Unfortunately, the window box near my office didn’t fare so well.  Between slugs chewing the young growth and squirrels digging in it (at times, I thought I’d break the window banging on it so many times to keep them out), it’s had some flowers but not as full as the window above.  And, the third window box?  Here, let me show you what happened:

Poor plants. 😦 I really do need to yank these things out of there.

Something ATE my flowers!!!  The only thing I can think of that could reach this high (there’s nothing to jump from around it) would have to be deer.  I did hear about some deer bounding through some neighbors’ yards several years ago but it’s not like we live in a rural area.  It’s a regular neighborhood.  Lots of houses, pleasant-sized yards.  Deer…they’re the only thing I can think of that would nibble all the flowers off my plants.  😦

Despite these annoying yet sometimes humorous setbacks, and the fact that this isn’t the diverse vegetable garden I ultimately want, it is a bit of gardening that brings joy and beauty to our lives, even if it’s only until an animal eats them. 😀

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.