Tag Archives: wildlife

The Tale of the Sad Fruit Orchard

I have a fuzzy trail cam clip but I don’t have the energy to fix it up to post right this second.

The deer returned.

I saw their hoof-prints and turd-piles so I knew they had been through.

I looked over the apple and pear trees and initially thought they looked okay. Just a few nibbles. But after I saw the clips I took a closer look and realized that the fruit buds are gone. There are maybe 2 apple and a few pear left. They didn’t damage the new trees because they are too new and have nothing on them except tiny leaf buds.

Also, there is one new blueberry out in the front of the house that is missing all the buds.

The bird feeders are down. There is no intentional food for them out there. I’m super bummed. It seems like the solution is deer fencing but I’m not sure how that is going to work in our yard. I don’t want to turn it into an obstacle course.

I just want a happy place where fruit trees and wildlife can live together in peace but I will get the fruit.

This is from the Orleans trip. This is Summer wading through a giant puddle.

Mom wanted me to drive through this puddle.

I told her no, I have a city car. It doesn’t go through lakes of mud.

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Too Big

Yesterday I was settling in for a little yoga and looked over to find this sweetie hanging out with me. Generally, I’m not bothered by spiders but I don’t love these big ones. After a brief negotiation, I trapped it in a jar with some cardboard and relocated it to a new home outside which I’m sure means that it ran after me and is back in the house and also mad now.

WELL! I am having a weird issue with my photos and Adobe and my troubleshooting didn’t fix it and you know what? I don’t have the time or energy to solve *that* problem right now. So I managed to get this photo to save and I have another AI generated photo for later in the week.

Today’s topic is: The yard. I’ve been doing some research about my fruit trees and blueberry bushes and looking for tips about pruning and fertilizing.

Where is the fertilizing for dummies material? Everything I found was like a science project and suggested I send my soil out and get it analyzed by a lab.


I just want some berries for my cereal.

I did look it up for curiosity and there is a university extension that will test your soil for $$$$. I think that’s for environmental testing. It looks like you can buy a kit at certain stores. I still don’t think I will do it. It sounds too high maintenance.

The pruning advice also seemed overly complex so I think I’m just going to trust my instincts. Worst case is I get no fruit and I don’t have any fruit now so not like I’m going to lose out.

Possible photos to come.

Meanwhile: I am obsessed with the Big Bear Bald Eagle live cam. Three eggs!

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Destruction Deerby Continues

Stomping in the garden with their big cloven feet.

I can’t remember the exact chronology. I caught the deer in the garden at the beginning of June.

I eventually realized they were very destructive to the plants and also getting into the bird feeder.

Poop machines! Three visitors and three piles of pooplets.

I bought some deer repellant, which was successful.

I also bought a motion-controlled sprinkler. I had some trouble setting it up at first.

Pumpkins are for me and my human friends. All other pumpkin eating is VERBOTEN!

Since I set it up, the trail cam is mostly dead. The sprinkler scared everyone off.

And I’m not too broken up about it because it felt like everyone was getting too comfortable out there. I don’t mind a thirsty raccoon or some cute bunnies hopping through. But the skunk under the shed did not seem ideal.

I had the brilliant idea to put the camera out front, curious what I might catch out there.

I caught a leafy branch. 408 clips in one night. I have not tried that again.

Then I got lazy and didn’t put the sprinkler up for a few days and the majestic beasts returned. My tomatoes!

I am setting the sprinkler up every night and moving it around the yard.

Also if you’re keeping track, no more mice. No sign in the house or in the shop for a couple of weeks. Traps are still set.

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Fat Squirrel and The Spool of Destiny

This is Fat Squirrel. There are actually 2 fat squirrels and the way they’ve been running around here, I bet there are more squirrels on the way soon.

I put peanuts out on that little table for the blue jays and sometimes the blue jays don’t come along or leave one and Fat Squirrel gets his chubby mitts on them.

Sometimes he just sits out there, his little hands folded in front of him, and he looks at the window as if to say: hey lady, bring me some peanuts.

The spool was here when we moved in and we use it to hold our drinks when we sit outside. (There’s a swinging seat out there in the summer.) It’s also proven handy for the trail cam and I can easily move it around.

I think at some point Fat Squirrel found a peanut inside that middle hole (you can see in top photo) but his brain is so small, he thinks the peanuts come from a magical place and he has really ripped up the inside of the spool looking for peanuts.

I cleverly covered that hole so now he’s been trying to get in another way.

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Sad Day at the Watering Hole

Here is our friend Pogo the opossum in happier times.

I came home from work last week and found the bucket tipped over. I dashed out for the camera card, anxious to see who the rascal was and I was greeted with this sad sight.

I don’t know what happened. There were no obvious injuries but also I don’t think an opossum would drag itself to the waterhole and keel over next to it. Part of me is afraid that maybe the raccoons did something to it. But also maybe it was poisoned somewhere in the neighborhood and came to our yard for a nice place to die.

Is that plausible? I don’t know. I felt pretty bad. He was much cuter in person. His fur looked soft and his ears were adorable.

I brought the bucket inside for now. The trailcam is still set up and all the usual characters have been through since then including the other opossum, at least 3 different raccoons, skunky, and bunny:

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We Need to Organize the Sausages

This morning my husband told me he needed a chance to talk to me about organizing the sausages.

After we finished laughing he explained that he bought a variety of sausages when he was at the meat market and he needed to break down the package and wanted my thoughts.

I couldn’t think of any feedback I had on this particular topic so I left him to handle it on his own.

I’m trying to make friends with the blue jays that nest in the hedge.

The other day I saw one out on the power line and I went out and set two peanuts on the top of the fence. The bird flew away but I watched from the kitchen window and it eventually came back for them.

Yesterday I saw the blue jay on the line again and I went out there with two peanuts. It flew away.

By the time I got in the house a fat squirrel was sitting on the fence stuffing its face with one peanut and hovering over the other.

I kept watching and the blue jay came back. It perched on the line for a second, looking down at its peanuts and dive-bombed the squirrel. It landed on the fence and kept squawking and the squirrel ran away with one peanut leaving the second peanut for the blue jay.

One of the best shows I have seen in months.

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Squirrels: The Final Chapter. Hopefully.

You can’t imagine the thrill, the exciting rush of victory when you conquer an animal with a brain the size of a pea.

We reset the trap – this time I put a tiny dollop of peanut butter on the trigger so it’d have to really park there to eat it. The exterminator recommended peanut butter. Last night I rebuilt the tunnel and left the front door open. If this squirrel was ripping out insulation to get outside it must be smart enough to run out the front door. (ha ha)

Didn’t hear a peep. Couldn’t see it. This one was climbing up inside somehow. Closed up for the night.

When I got up this morning he was frolicking around the trap.

I opened the front door and fireplace and watch it hop around. I hate to say it but they are really cute. It perched exactly on the edge of the fireplace door and looked longingly out the front door but didn’t try to make a break for it.

I went into the other room and then I could hear it eating. I ran back in and it was eating the peanut butter and TRAP DID NOT SPRING.

What dark magic are these squirrels up to?

I tried to spring it but he hopped out. Bob decided to fiddle to make sure the spring was operating and when he reached in, the trap sprung, startling all of us.

Here I will note that squirrels make a wide variety of noises. They make sad squeaky noises, high pitched chirping noises and low-growly noises.

Squirrely growled.

Bob fixed the trap, re-peanutbuttered it and put it back in. We closed everything up.

It took about a half hour. We both heard the trap spring (Bob was downstairs) and squirrely’s outraged growly-squeaks.

Bob and I ran around high-fiving each other and cheering and doing variations of the victory dance before taking it outside. Of course it was too stupid to leave the trap by itself (it kept eating the peanut butter) so we had to dump it out. While it was squeaking another bigger squirrel came wandering over to see what was going on.

Total squirrels removed so far: 4
Recommended tools: trap with peanut butter – be patient, if desperate shop vac.

We have reset the trap and put it back in the fireplace, just in case.

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The Squirrel Clown Car Continues

I’m sure you’ve been dying to hear how the squirrel story ended.

Me too!

To recap: three little squirrels arrived on Wednesday night.

None of the the things we did previously worked. Everything we did scared them into a little trembling fur ball back in the corner of the fireplace. They would carefully explore the edges of the fireplace but they would not come out.

I tried luring them out with carrot snacks. They weren’t going for it. I threw the carrot snacks in the fireplace when I closed it up Wednesday night. They were going to have to spend the night in there.

Later I told a friend about the carrots and he said: You have pet squirrels now.

On Thursday we all became more comfortable with each other. One of them came out of the fireplace and proceeded to escape the tunnel and explore the living room. Bob scared him and he ran back into the fireplace. Later I watched him go all the way to the front door and peek out. I grabbed the broom and in a split second he was back in the fireplace.

These little guys are dumb.

We went out and got a trap and set it in the fireplace – this was our last resort.

When we woke up this morning they had nibbled at the snacks, sprung the trap and were napping quietly under the grate.

That’s it! We have a life to live. We called an exterminator.

$250 to set the trap plus $100 per animal removed.

Okay, we’ll keep trying on our own.

It seemed like the only way to get them was to put on heavy duty gloves and yank them out — except there are three of them, so we weren’t sure how that was going to work and we weren’t in the mood to get bitten by a squirrel.

Meanwhile, I had called Chris to come over and cover the chimney. I asked him what he thought we should do. He went through all the things that we had already tried. We discussed and discarded some other ideas and settled on the shop vac.

Man, those things make a THWOP! sound when they go through the pipe.

Great news. We got all three. My fireplace was clean. We put them outside. Problem solved.

I cleaned up the giant mess from the tunnel. Vacuumed. Scrubbed everything around the fireplace. Put away all the implements we’d found to try to sweep them out, poke them out, scare them out, scoop them out, squirt them out, loud sound them out. My house was back to normal and I could relax.

Or could I?

Because a half hour later I came into the house to the sound of squeaking and a squirrel in the fireplace.

D’oh! I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious there’s a nest in there and now squirrely is trapped because we screened off the chimney.

We called a different exterminator who said we were doing everything right. Put the trap back in the fireplace. The squirrel has nowhere to go. We can get him.

So I reset the trap. Went outside to do yardwork.

Returned and checked the fireplace.

The peanuts were eaten. The trap wasn’t sprung. The squirrel has torn out huge pieces of the insulation from around the insert.

Like a horror movie, my next note will probably be written while I’m hiding under the bed, cowering from my squirrel overlord.

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Why Pam Can’t Read

I am reading a giant sci fi book that I really like and would love to dig into but it seems like every time I manage to pick it up, something happens. I’m on page 28 and I’ve been “reading” it for at least 2 weeks. This morning I decided to treat myself to a leisurely hour of reading before I started my day.

I had barely cracked the book open and re-read the last 10 pages to remember what was going on and I heard this incredible noise coming from the living room. I wasn’t sure what it was but I hoped that was related to something Bob was doing (in the basement, sure, why not?) and I ignored it.

That’s my favorite method of problem solving is ignore and hope it goes away.

No luck. It was clear that there was something alive stuck in our fireplace. The doors to it are closed unless there is a fire in there.

Since I read too many stories of course I pictured some sort of giant 2 headed spider-bird with huge teeth.

I ran to the basement and said: I think something is stuck in the fireplace and I’m scared.

Bob said: I don’t want to deal with it.

Me: You’re the guy. You have to.

We went back upstairs and looked.

It was a squirrel and it looked like it was as unhappy about the situation as we were.

Sorry this is such a terrible photo. My intentions for great photo-journalism were tempered by my fear of crazy squirrels jumping up and biting me. If you use your imagination you can see its fluffy tail and one beady eye.

Bob wanted to try to capture it and throw it outside. I thought too many things could go wrong with that.

It’s a straight shot from the fireplace to the front door. I figured if the front door was wide open it would just run outside.

This sounds like a great plan but if the squirrel freaked out and decided to hide somewhere in the house, we were screwed.

Using furniture and boxes we built a tunnel from the fireplace to the front door.

I’m sure Hannah will be delighted to see that I still haven’t taken down my World Cup banner. I keep thinking about it but once I take it down, then it’s just something put away in a box. Why not keep enjoying it?

I went around and closed all the bedroom and bathroom doors to minimize the damage if Squirrely decided to check out the house.

We opened the fireplace.

Nothing happened. I called gentle encouragements. “You’re free squirrel!”

Bob threatened to get a broom.

Nothing happened. It was hiding under the grate.

Bob got the broom.

That little guy shot out the front door at the speed of light.

Success! We haven’t had such wild animal drama here since the dramatic baby raccoon rescue of 2004.

I took a video, because of course everything has to be documented but I don’t know how to edit videos and I wasted 1/2 hour this morning trying to figure it out. I guess I can take an online class and you can expect it in 6 years.

Meanwhile the video isn’t really worth it because (a) during the first half you’re looking at a fireplace with me cooing: “It’s okay squirrel. Come on, baby, it’s okay” and then (b) during the second half the camera is at a weird angle because I didn’t want to risk getting attacked by an ash covered squirrel. So it’s basically 1/2 second of brown lump zooming out the door so fast its feet didn’t touch the ground.

The evict squirrel project ate into my reading time but I made it to page 47.

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Garden Update and What’s Been Going On

I did something today I haven’t done in a long time, I threw a fit in public.

The situation seems to happen on a regular basis. I’m waiting in line and some manager type person comes over and tells me to move to another checkstand and by the time I move all my crap and get over there, it takes longer than it would have taken if I just stood there. I’m guessing they get docked brownie points for too many people waiting but if you’re wasting my time moving me someplace else then you aren’t addressing the right problem.

This guy moved me way across the store the guest services and when I got over there, there was a lady with a giant cart filled with stuff and a long story. After 10 minutes I went back to the registers to start all over. And when manger type guy came back, I let him know how I felt.

I’m always mortified after I do that, but WTF?

This is my Stupice that my mother-in-law gave me. I put it in early with the walls of water and it’s been producing but the tomatoes are pretty small.

This is one I grew from seeds and these are the first ripe ones.

The clover is from my cover crop I tried last winter. I have little clover bits popping up here and there.

The birds are tearing apart the sunflowers. In my observation, based on no scientific knowledge, I’m going to guess that winter is coming early around here. All the animals are going crazy burying nuts or grabbing seeds and it feels earlier than normal to me.

I’ve been having some alone time at 3am lately and for the past two nights, just after 3am, we’ve had a family of raccoons in the front yard. Well, family, what do I know? There are three and they aren’t too big. I’m not positive what they’re eating since it’s hard to tell with your forehead pressed against the screen but I’m hoping it’s snails.

Here’s a flower that’s been cleaned out by the birds. There was a sparrow convention out there around noon today.

These are the cucumbers. Cucumbers hate me. I start them in the house and I assumed they always shriveled up on me when I put them out because it was too cold. This year it was plenty warm and they still never did anything. I’ve had some good cucumber crops but not for years. I’ll buy different seeds and try again next year. And maybe read something about cucumbers. Maybe they need names and extra encouragement or something.

Some potatoes just hanging out in the dirt.

I had a work trip to Reno this week. Poor Reno, it tries so hard but you get the sense it’s never going to be more than the pimple-faced less-sexy sibling of Las Vegas.

There was an interesting character in the airport when we were departing and Bob leaned over and said: Burning Man starts this week.

Burning Man was rained out right before opening. There was a whole group of guys loading coolers into the shuttle to the hotel. The driver said: It’s been like this all day, they’re rained out. The hotel was filled with Burning Man refugees. Colorful characters until the end of time. It was kind of fun to be on the fringe.

From the window at our side of the hotel I counted at least 50 RVs. I wanted to get a photo but when I woke up at 6:30am already a third were gone and I watched 8 pull out while I stood there.

A friend laughed that we were going to Reno in August but it was hotter in Portland.

This is another plant started from seeds. This is as far as it’s gotten but the tomatoes are decent sized.

Whoa. What’s going on here?

The pumpkin patch is looking great. It got a little cooked a couple of times but it’s still making tiny pumpkins. I think there are at least 7 good looking ones going right now.

I did finally go through my digital photos and I should be able to get some Montreal stuff up this weekend.

If you didn’t catch it, Daniel Shamaun wrote a piece about my story, Battle of Little Big Science. You can find it here.

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