The Crabby Old Fellow Next Door

I first noticed this new neighbor the day FD put fence up around our expanded garden plot. Until then, I actually had no idea we even had a neighbor living so close to the garden. Normally, I just try to mind my own business while working outdoors but, this morning, there was some kind of ruckus going on and the muttering and loud chattering indicated a protest of sort.  So finally, I decided to go over and see just what the fuss was all about.

The Crabby Old Fellow from his lookout station.
The Crabby Old Fellow from his lookout station.

I have often found it wise to observe a situation before stepping in. In this instance, I could see what the problem was right away – the neighborhood kids were giving this old fella a hard time. I estimated there were about six of these rowdy youngsters sneaking around my mom-in-law’s childhood playhouse, intent on terrorizing the old guy. As I observed, they came at him from all directions. One was on the roof, another around the corner, two of them snuck up along the playhouse foundation, and yet a couple more were hanging about in a nearby tree. But the old codger was standing his ground, and making a royal fuss about it.

Here are a few of the ruffians I caught tormenting the old fella.
Here are a few of the ruffians I caught tormenting the old fella.

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The old playhouse has seen better days, and is now quite weathered and dilapidated. Given its present condition, I was not a bit surprised to see the squirrels had taken it over. As I stepped further into Mom’s iris beds, I spotted the old guy peeping out from weathered gaps in the clapboard siding. He did not seem as bothered by my presence as he was about the youngsters who were attempting to invade his home. The intruding kids, however, did not share the old resident’s tolerance of me. As I attempted some quick photos of them, they hurriedly scampered off to the nearby trees, seeking shelter higher up.

With the annoying neighborhood brats now out of the area, the crabby senior citizen turned his attention to me. Out of the siding he came, pouncing mightily towards me with his forelegs. He stared me down. He grumbled and chattered as his beady eyes bored holes into me! When I bravely ventured a little closer, he emerged fully from the safety and confines of his shelter. This crusty character did not fear me at all! In fact, I was the one who ended up retreating back a few paces. The old guy clearly made it known he was not giving up his house to anyone!

You have to be a real scrapper to defend your territory!
You have to be a real scrapper to defend your territory!

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Back at my own house, I looked over the photos I had taken of the crabby old fellow. I am not sure how long squirrels live in the wild, but this specimen looked like he had quite a few years under his belt. His hair had a gray cast to it. His mature appearance was enhanced by a face that was craggy with age. His ears were scarred with jagged tears, and a small hole in one indicated he had fought a few battles in his lifetime. I also noticed a scar along his left rear flank. Perhaps it was some old battle scar as well. He seemed only slightly irritated about the fleas he occasionally stopped to scratch, and his virile body language told me he was not so old that he could not still defend his territory. This fella may be an old codger, I thought, but his look and actions told me he was entirely prepared to go to battle if necessary!

When I went back out an hour later or so to visit with FD, who was still working on fence, the younger squirrels were back, and the racket had ensued. The old fellow had completely emerged from the playhouse, while attempting to chase off the young varmints. I watched in admiration. This old guy had certainly earned the rights to his clapboard palace. I imagined there would come a day when he would no longer be able to defend his territory. After all, life in the wild is ultimately about survival of the fittest. For now though, I was happy to note that my new-found neighbor was managing just fine.

My neighbor achieves victory, having run off the neighborhood hooligans!
My neighbor achieves victory, having run off the neighborhood hooligans!

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


52 thoughts on “The Crabby Old Fellow Next Door

  1. I really enjoyed reading this… it brought a little “spring warmth” to my heart, as I looked out my window at the snow. I’m sure the squirrels are out there somewhere, along with the rest of my “neighbors.” I wonder if the wildlife dreads the cold and snow as much as I do? Thanks for keeping me entertained over this long winter! And great job on the photos 🙂

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    1. Why thank you for such a nice compliment! Actually, I think most animals seem friskier in the winter. Daisy deer seems to flourish in the colder months. In the summer she’s not as active and she pants a lot. Especially since we’ve had three drought years in a row, I think that just adds to their discomfort. I’ve noticed this spring that shedding those wooly winter coats must be a real chore. I think it must itch a great deal until they finally get rid of the old coat and the new hair grows in. Aren’t we lucky we don’t have that issue?

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  2. They do all have distinct personalities. Certain ones know Molly just wants to watch them and aren’t disturbed by her sitting around at all. The lean younger ones still panic when they see her – so she just has to run the fence with them.
    Nice pictures

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    1. Thank you! Some of the squirrels here are used to us and the dogs, and don’t mind our presence a bit. As you say, I think it’s the newbies that fret and panic at us and our pets!

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  3. The squirrels in our neighborhood chitter chatter most of the day and some are noisier than others. The sounds get muffled in the tall evergreen branches making their chattering a pleasant sound I enjoy while walking.

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      1. In the fall the squirrels climb the evergreens to reach the new cones on the ends of the branches. They pull off the cones or break them off with their teeth and then drop them to the ground. So in the fall we know they have started to collect their seeds for winter storage by the clunk, bong, clunk sounds as the cones hit the ground, roofs, other branches or people as they walk through the forest. Afterwards, if they remember, they’ll collect the seeds from the cones that have landed on the ground and road or where ever. I love that time of the year…it is full of wildlife gatherers and nesters.

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        1. What an interesting comment! Squirrels are some of the hardest workers and gatherers! I loved the way you described the noise of the dropping cones. We hear these noises when the squirrels are harvesting pecans in the autumn. They build a cache of nuts and some are buried… and in the spring and summer new pecan trees emerge all over the yard!

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          1. That’s interesting. They do the same in our area…a lot of times they forget where their cache is hidden. They are definitely interesting little creatures. I love their scolding when they feel threatened.
            We have tiny Brown squirrels that have almost the same markings as a chipmunk.

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  4. This was such a delight to read and the shots you got were beautiful! I’ve raised plenty of orphaned baby squirrels into adulthood so I know all about their feisty personalities. They’re so much fun.

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    1. Thank you!! Oh, I love squirrels too. They can be little devils sometimes (like chewing up furniture on the back porch) but they’re so delightful and entertaining that I can’t be too upset when they wreak havoc here. Ya gotta love them!

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    1. Thank you! I never paid much attention to squirrels until we moved here, and then raised an orphaned squirrel. Now I see many of them in a day, and some of them have distinct characteristics that set them apart from others. We see one little guy down in the canyon who jumps randomly and rolls all over the ground! I don’t know if he has a bad case of fleas, or just delights in jumping and rolling, but he’s a delight to watch! Squirrels can be highly entertaining, and they’re some smart little snappers!

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  5. You made wonderful pictures. And i think you were lucky to catch squirrels because they jump too quickly from a place to another. I wish you a nice end of the week, my dear friend.

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    1. Hello there and thank you for your always sweet compliments! Squirrels can be a trick to photograph but these didn’t seem to mind. The weather here will be sunny and cool, and perhaps a shower or two of rain. I’ll be happy to see the rain. I hope you have a lovely weekend too!

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  6. As usual, I love your posts! As I take my daily walk around the neighborhood with my 2 Japanese Chin, Kool Mo and Oliver, I see many squirrels and they are also used to our presence. I say “Hi squrirrely!” and they always seem to chatter back at me. We have beautiful solid black squirrels here.

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    1. Hi Cindy! My smallest chin, Zoe (the one you made the marshmallow bed for!) remembers when we raised Frosty the squirrel, so anytime we see a squirrel we chant “FROSTY!” and she goes to the trees looking for Frosty! Zoe is so good with the orphaned wildlife we’ve taken in. She is a sweet girl. Mr.T and Bear are couch potatoes… typical, huh? LOL

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  7. With age comes wisdom and a determination to have your way. I dare say I would be out the front of the house with a broom if hooligans came visiting me as well :). Kudos on the amazing images Lori, your neighbour might be elderly for a squirrel but he is handsome as well. Not bad attributes for a neighbour 😉

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    1. Thanks Fran! I am very fortunate to have so many unusual and handsome/beautiful neighbors. And, I’ve learned the voice of nature is very wise and determined. We could all learn a lot from sitting a while observing and communicating with these amazing creatures!

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      1. This is a great tale, accompanied by fun photos of your neighbor. I enjoy the Abert squirrels that live near us. I’m definitely rooting for your grumpy old guy!

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  8. This is one of my favorite wildlife blog entries ever. Of course, I’m the great squirrel fan, so what’s not to like? They really are darling, and your narrative was lots of fun to read.

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    1. Why thank you!! That makes me feel good! You know sometimes when I write about something I think might be ordinary and not terribly interesting, it ends up being a reader favorite. I guess though, I don’t know too many people who don’t like squirrels. Oh sure, they can be little devils when they chew up everything on the back porch, but they’re so entertaining to observe and they win me over every time with their antics.

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  9. I love stories prompted by nature! And yours brought a smile to a soul suffering the effects of a long bitter winter. Squirrels can be very animated and dramatic and you captured the activity beautifully. Thank you!

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    1. Oh thank you so much! The wild critters here prompt a lot of thought about life, and sometimes storytelling! Squirrels are some of the busiest and productive creatures, yet they know how to have play time. And, like all of us, they have different personalities if you observe them very long. Just fascinating!

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  10. Hi Lori, I like the idea of a squirrel taking up residence in an old cubby house – there is nothing wasted in nature. I am sure it provides all kinds of squirrel comforts. I am not surprised the old squirrel was prepared to defend his prime piece of real estate.

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  11. Loved the post. As usual, great photographs.
    My earliest ‘encounter’ with a squirrel was as a three or four-year old when one mysteriously appeared inside our house, possibly having lost its way from the garden. It was quite an experience to see one at such close quarters. Then there was this uncle of mind who had a pet squirrel that would “travel” on his shoulder. We used to get to hold it and scream in delight when it tried to escape.
    Unfortunately, in those days, cameras were not commonplace, so none of those beautiful moments have ever been captured. Those beautiful moments are only memories!

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    1. You have some of the most wonderful childhood memories! Each time you express a memory it is vivid in my mind – picturing you as a young, spirited boy! You know I rarely look back at my own photos – most of the time it is what I hold in my memory that I go back to. Thank you for sharing your boyhood memories!

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  12. I know we humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize, but when you read about animal tales like this it is very hard not to! I especially like the description of the old guy grumbling!

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    1. Thanks Lynda… well, I wonder why you haven’t been around!! Sheesh, taking on repairs and improvements on an old cabin, caring for your “flock”, doling out meds for Tucker, repairing old quilts… plus your normal housework and cooking? Gee, I can’t imagine why you can’t seem to get to the computer! LOL

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      1. Part of the problem has been the knee. Surgery tomorrow AM to fix that, then RR for most of the summer. 😐

        Don’t worry; I can still quilt! 😉

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  13. Such great photos and story. I really like the 6th one down of the old guy half way out of the structure.
    What a scrapper!

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    1. Ha ha! I love that word “scrapper” and he certainly was one! He intimidated me a bit when he pounced at me and growled. It’s funny how something so little can come off so ferocious!

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  14. Can you believe I have a neighbor who is afraid of squirrels?? Maybe one scared her as a child and she never recovered. I love them! The bushy tails, their little hand-paws, and their running and jumping…it just looks like they have a lot of fun! The pictures accompanying this post were the best!

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  15. Maybe you can invite him over for dinner sometime! You know, get to know him, see what makes him tick. Stuffed mushrooms and corn on the cob? 😀

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    1. Ha ha ha! Aren’t you the clever one Anouchka!!! I’m not sure my neighbor will leave his mansion long enough to pay a visit, but I suppose I could leave some goodies by his house and be the “Welcome Wagon” lady!

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