With the weather unseasonably warm last week, I decided one morning to get out of the house and do a bit of tidying up on the back porch. No sooner had I began to mutter about the mess of sunflower seeds and pecan shells scattered about on the porch floor, than I heard the familiar “pouncing” noise on the porch railing and pitter patter of little feet as they ran along its length. Mr. Gambini, one of our orphaned juvenile squirrels, had arrived from a westerly direction. Likely, he spotted me from below the slope and came to the porch to see if I had brought out anything good to eat.
I greeted Mr. Gambini as he made his approach along the porch railing, finally rising up on his hind legs to see what I had to offer. But, as soon as he realized I had not brought any food, he scurried away and proceeded to the flower beds below. Once in the bare dirt of the bed, he began to dig in earnest, but did not seem to find what he was looking for. Not to be defeated, he continued to sniff around when the first hole did not produce anything, relocating himself several times in about a two-foot square area.
I watched him for a while, taking in his diligent digging and patting around with his paws. Finally, he moved to a more grassy area nearby. Closing his eyes, he nosed deeper into a depression in the grass, and more digging ensued. Then, after much tugging and yanking, Mr. Gambini pulled a rather large, black item out of the hole. It was a half-eaten portion of sweet corn on the cob. After securing this large hunk of corn (which was bigger than Mr. Gambini’s head) in his mouth, he set off for a fence post where he proceeded to nibble at his prize meal. It did not take him long to consume what tender kernels were left on the dirty hunk of corn, and he soon tossed the cob to the ground and took off down the slope to the west again, scrambling up one of the many elm trees that grow near the water tub.
While ascending the tree, I was pleased to see that Mr. Gambini was practicing good squirrel safety tactics, such as hiding around the backside of the trunk where a predator could not see him. Any time a crow flew over, he froze in stillness and waited for the danger to pass. I also observed him hanging upside down on the trunk of the tree, stretching his body and legs, and looking quite leisurely for the moment. Then suddenly, he scrambled further up the tree and leaped to a smaller branch where he began eating small buds and slender twigs. Though the branch did not look large enough to support him, his weight seemed perfectly balanced as he moved up and down the twig, while constantly nibbling at little goodies along the way.
After observing Mr. Gambini for a time, I walked back up the hill to resume cleaning up the back porch. It was not just Mr. Gambini and Punkin who had made such a mess on the floor, as various birds had discovered my daily offering of seeds and nuts as well. I also noticed two neighborhood squirrels had recently been making themselves at home on our porch, running off with the loot whenever I showed up to send them packing. And at nights, the usual raccoon trouble had started up again. This was a constant problem especially in the winter months. And considering that our orphaned squirrels were burying their corn on the cob around the back porch, I surmised that, along with the barrels of deer feed and corn, the raccoons could also detect fresh food in the vicinity.
As I finished my cleaning task, I heard the pounce and patter of feet again. Mr. Gambini was back. This time I found him investigating other areas of the porch in which I would rather he showed no interest. I warned FD that these two juvenile squirrels were becoming much too inquisitive and, sooner or later, we would be sorry for allowing them winter quarters on the back porch. Recently, I’d caught Punkin red-handed with a freshly chewed off portion of the pull chain of our sun shades in her mouth! Now, here was Mr. Gambini running like a pro along my rolled up sun shades, snooping around the outdoor speakers, and deftly using the satellite tower to make his way to the dish on the rooftop. Those connections on the rooftop would be far too interesting and chewy to pass up one of these days. Thinking of this probability, I visualized FD in his easy chair watching football one Saturday or Sunday afternoon when all of a sudden, BLIP, the satellite signal is gone!
As I was coaxing Mr. Gambini down from his perch on the rooftop with a pecan, Punkin showed up. Fortunately for her, I had a spare nut in my pocket which she was only too happy to take off my hands. I watched the two of them nibble away at their pecans with lightning speed. As soon as each finished their portions, a squabble started up over what discards were left. Mr. Gambini attacked Punkin, but it was ever so gentle, actually more of an interrogation of “let me see what you have” if anything. A little rough housing followed, and then Punkin leaped on the porch rail, with Gambini following. From here, they both gazed out to the woods for a while, and it was not long before they set off to the trees – Mr. Gambini to the west and Punkin in a more northerly direction. There was still plenty of daytime hours to discover what else the woodlands had to offer, and then that nice lady would be putting out fresh vittles at bedtime…
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…