I cannot say I was too surprised when the cooler temperatures finally arrived, that we started to see more of Punkin and Buddy – two orphaned squirrels we raised who never ventured far from home. Begging for pecans and sunflower seeds is the main purpose for visiting, but lately I have noticed some paper and cloth items shredded on the back porch. Apparently they have come home to find nesting material for their winter homes.
Over the past two years, we enjoyed occasional visits from Punkin on rainy days. And early this summer we realized the reason she made infrequent visits might have been because she was busy being a mother. Her teats indicated she may have had a couple of babies. Buddy had visited regularly since he set out on his own more than a year ago. I often saw him with other squirrels down in the canyon at the wildlife feeders and water tub. Sometimes I noticed him running across the yard while I was gardening, or visiting his sibling, Francesca, who set up digs somewhere in my mom-in-law’s backyard. He seemed to find his share of trouble too. FD and I sometimes noticed patches of hair missing, scratches, and this summer he showed up with one of his ears ripped. I suppose that is the life of a male squirrel.
I have never minded the squirrel kids stopping by for a snack. They know if I am here they will probably get a few acorns, sunflower seeds or pecans. If no one seems to be around, they take off and explore the next distraction. But that does not mean they haven’t done their very best to make sure someone isn’t around. Punkin likes to get on the top of a patio chair next to the sliding glass door to stare at me while I iron inside the house. She sometimes perches on a post just outside the kitchen window to see if I am working in there. Punkin was especially resourceful when, one morning I was in the bathroom and I saw her hanging upside down on the window screen, peering in at me with one eye, head cocked sideways. As soon as I exited the room, she ran to the back porch where she could clearly see me at the next set of windows! Apparently she knows the lay of the house and where to get my attention! Buddy is out and about early and I see him most days, but he does not work as hard at begging as Punkin does. If I’m not available to provide a quick snack, he is off to the next distraction… maybe he knows he will catch me later when I am out and about.
It is a rewarding feeling to know orphaned squirrels Buddy, Francesca and Punkin have all survived, despite slim odds of squirrel survival in the wild. I read that less than 25% survive past the first year. These three have skirted disease and predators for nearly two years. I was worried especially about the neighbor’s dogs on their killing spree this past summer, and the high fox population over the last two years – but all three squirrels have managed to rely on instinct to live and flourish. And to know that Punkin achieved motherhood was something special. I suppose, it has helped a little to have human parents to provide food and some nest-building material along the way. But for FD and me, it’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to continue to observe their lives and know that they are living life wild and free as squirrels are meant to.
© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…