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.
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.
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!
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.
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…