By Loretta Humble
Special to The News
We’ve had a lot of wildlife action down here at the farm lately. Let’s start with the rodents.
The mystery squirrel has returned. I saw him once, from a distance, snapped a really grainy picture before he disappeared. He is a little larger than the average squirrel, with a regular squirrel-colored belly, but the top of his head, his back, and part of his sides, look like they’ve been dredged in flour. Or maybe like he just got a frosting job. I couldn’t find anything like him on the Internet, and nobody I asked had ever seen anything like him. This time I got good pictures so I can prove I’m not nuts. I don’t know if they would show up in the paper, but I’ve posted it on www.facebook.com/aroundthetown.
Then there is rat situation. Some of you may remember I had a big battle going on with some huge good looking rats two years ago.
Finally trapped them and carried them off to a pasture near Post Oak cemetery, and haven’t seen another one since. Till now. And this one is a doosie. The last ones just ate my wiring, and shoved insulation out from under my steam shower unit. This one started there, then – you know those folding cloth boxes you sit on shelves to hide your messy stuff – he came out and demolished two of them. One of them had nothing left but its wire frame to guard all the stuff it was supposed to hide, and since it was black, black shreds all over the floor. We are setting the live trap again. So far we’ve only caught and transported a small one, but the big one is still getting away.
Moving on from rodent to ruminant, we have a deer with mossy antlers and an orange collar hanging out with us. The dogs bark at him a lot but he kind of ignores them. He is very friendly, and licks our hands when we pet him. We all tried to find something to feed him. When Shelly heard deer eat corn, she opened a can and offered to him. We tried pears and dog food. He did take a bite of the canned corn, maybe just to be polite, but totally ignored the other offerings. His name is Giselle. He is the ward of Susan Kjeldgaard, who now owns the land and red barn house we used to visit when the kids were young and Ben and Patsy Johnson owned it. Susan adopted him as an orphan and raised him to young manhood.
Now he has wandered off to seek his fortune, which he seems to think lies around here. Susan has come and picked him up a couple of times, but he keeps coming back. We asked Susan what he eats, but she said she would prefer we didn’t feed him, as she fears he never will come home if the pickings keep getting better over here.
And then I’ve been watching the birds. I’ve always fed them, but this is the first year I’ve really paid attention to them. I know what kinds are feeding at my feeders, and I know what they want to eat: Sunflower seed. Period. The ones that are here now do not care for the cheaper grains, or the fancy stuff that adds fruits and nuts to the sunflower seed. They want pure unadulterated sunflower seed. The ones here now are cardinals, tufted titmice (yes, titmice, I looked it up), chickadees, a couple of doves, and purple finches. If purple finches have been around, I have never noticed them before. And they aren’t purple. They are brownish with a raspberry colored head and breast. They particularly love to eat my sunflower seed. Oh, and two hummingbirds. At least two at a time is all I ever see, and they are usually fighting. And they ignore my pretty feeders in favor of the cheapest plastic one you ever see. I finally put the pretty ones away because they were just wasting hummingbird food.
Then I saw the other birds trying to perch on the little plastic feeder, so I figured they were thirsty. So I got them a big hanging waterer. I thought I’d see them bathing and drinking and having a big time. Every now and then I see one sneaking to take a drink, but very little. They are still perching on the hummingbird’s cheesy little feeder. Now I’ve set up a regular bird bath. Nothing. Not one bird bathing or drinking. So then I read about a water wiggler, a little battery-operated thing that sits in bath and wiggles the water to attract birds and repell mosquitoes. Still no luck. I did see one chickadee on the edge of it one day. But I think he was just looking.