Dumb Ass Squirrel #!!&+*^(#?

        Squirrels are amazing animals. They are born in nests  high above the ground. They are accustomed to swinging in the breeze. I have witnessed them traverse a yard from tree to tree by jumping. Almost as if they were flying from one flimsy limb to another. They do it effortlessly. Squirrels are also very curious. They will explore everything they can, to find food. If they identify an object as a food source they will climb, jump, fly, crawl, or dig to get to it. You Tube has some amazing videos of squirrels traversing great obstacle courses to get food.

Corn Bungee on TreeUntouched CornBird Feeder With Squirrell Guard









At my previous  home, the squirels were very resourceful. They beat every effort I made to sabotage their attempts to raid my bird feeders. They go to the food easily  in a very short time. At my current home, I am one of the only residents on the block with squirrels. That is because I am one of the few with trees. Every year, in the spring a new crop of babies is born in the trees behind the house. During the year they disappear. Either the adults chase them away, or they are picked off by the Red Tail Hawks who sit and watch our feeders. I believe it to be the latter.

      At Christmas,  knowing the penchant I have for squirrel entertainment, my son presented me with a squirrel bungee.  It is a squirrel feeder attached to end of a bungee cord. I place an ear of corn on one end of the cord and hang the other to a fixed point.  It is simple, and the vision of watching a squirrel bouncing around while having a meal of tasty field corn passed through my mind. I also see myself with a huge grin as I watch him holding on for dear life while I drink my morning coffee.

      The bungee came with a twenty five pound bag of  field corn.  There was no room for it in his car, so  it stayed at home. I couldn’t wait for his next visit to try the new toy. I bought a bag of field corn myself.  Within a day, I had the feeder hanging in front of the kitchen window.  Any self respecting squirrel could get to it by jumping from our stoop to the window sill, and then make a short leap to the corn.  I could see it happen in my mind, except for one thing; it didn’t draw a single squirrel. A week later, I baited the corned-bungee by putting an ear of corn on the ground under it. The next morning the ear was gone;  plumb disappeared. The next day, I baited it again; the same thing happened.

      Meanwhile, everyday, I see the  squirrel sitting in the feeder munching away on sun-flower seeds. He has to jump four feet onto a slippery piece of six inch tubing that is there to thwart him. Next he climbs backwards and upside down  onto the feeder platform.  He performs  this complicated little maneuver in a split second. The corn-bungee hung in full view within five feet; totally ignored.

Plan B. Move the bungee to the tree next to the pond.

Theory: The squirrel will see the corn, climb the tree, and then shimmy down the cord to the prize. Or, he can jump straight up from the ground.

Rationale: The tree is far from the bird feeder, and lazy squirrels will come out of the tree to the corn instead of going to the feeder fifty feet away.

Result: Totally ignored.

Plan C: Ask for help.

Ice Tubes

       A strange and wonderfully magical phenomenon occurs in my pond during the winter. Ice tubes appear from the surface of the frozen water. When I stopped to analyze how these things form, it is not so strange.  In order to keep the fish healthy, I run an aquarium pump into the water below the ice. The pump feeds the air through a plastic tube into an air stone on the bottom of the pond.  The stone breaks the air into billions of tiny bubbles. The net result is the water becomes frothy with air, and the fish have oxygen for survival.

Winter 2009 Ice-Tube on Frozen Pond

     When the temperature goes  below freezing, the bubbles keep an area of the surface open.  As the temperature drops further, nature continues to freeze the surface even against the force of the bubbles. Eventually, the hole in the ice is the size of a quarter. The  tiny bubbles become big bubbles. The hole resembles a kid blowing bubbles through his lips with spit. The difference is that the pond can make bubbles faster than any kid. The bubbles burst in the frigid air and the resulting micro fine spray of water freezes in mid air. At first the bubble  freezes into a  dome with a tiny escape hole. The cycle continues until a cylinder of  frozen water begins to form. The bubble bursting and freezing continues for hours and the cyclinder grows like a stalagmite. The difference is that the ice tube is hollow and continues to let air escape from under the ice.

Ice-Tube-Up Close, approx 8 inches tall

     There have been times when my pond had as many as six of these ice tubes protruding from the ice. All, at least six inches tall, and twisted into various shapes. The wind blowing across the ice will push the bursting bubble mist into different directions before it freezes. The results are amazing. This year, the pond never had more than one ice tube at a time. With spring around the corner, I don’t expect to see too many more of these delightful structures this year.

White Flies, Right On Schedule

Red HibiscusWhat a great day this was. Peggy and I were greeted by three bright red  hibiscus blossoms. Here it is March and we have the joy of  tropical flowers. This is another plant that has been with me for several years; four to be specific. It came into the family through Peggy’s daughter, then to Peggy, then to me. The plant had outgrown it’s quarters and I had a nice basement with an atrium to winter it.  It didn’t need a lot of attention, just some light and water once in awhile. 

Every spring, I place it on the patio in full sun and watch it grow. Within a few weeks the bush has so many leaves on it you can’t see through it like you can right now. Eventually, with a regular regimen of fertilizer it begins to bloom. It gives us blossoms all summer and fall. It is late September when I finally bring it in again. That is, not before it has been washed thoroughly and sprayed heavily with insecticidal soap. Usually, there are so many flower buds on it, that I don’t dare trim it back. Peggy would kill me if I cut one budding blossom. 

Once the plant is in the house again, the leaves begin to turn yellow and start to drop. The flowers continue to bloom. We’ve had as many as twelve blossoms at one time. Considering that they last only a day or two it is pretty remarkable to see flowers nearly every day. That is until three weeks ago. the final bud opened and that was it. The plant took a rest until today. 

Notice the Yellow Stamenleaf-with-holesThis morning, all I saw  were red blossoms. I decided to photograph the beautiful red trumpets with the bright yellow stamen. When I returned with the camera, I began to see things differently. First, I saw a perforated leave. It looked like swiss cheese. Then I saw a curled one. As I combed the leaves looking for signs of bugs, I spotted the creature. A tiny white speck darted past the side of my head. Drat! White flies. Now I have to spray again or they will take over the house.

The white fly is not unusual. They arrive on the plant every year in March.  They are right on schedule this year too. They are  a major pain in the ass. I could take a practical approach and say, “I’ve had plenty of pleasure out of you plant, and now it is time for you to go.”  That would be too easy. There is something in the genes of a gardener that keeps wanting to sustain horticultural life.

Looking into the Trumpet

As a boy, mom took me with her when she visited freinds. They had plants all around their houses.  I thought to myself, I’ll never get that old that my house will be filled with pots of flowers everywhere. Well, guess what? You got it, I have pots of flowers all around my house.