The Handy Husband, vol. 3
My spouse has done it again: He sets his mind on improving our lives and then something we need materializes.
Sometimes it’s something I didn’t know we needed. Here is a bat house he made this summer to host those little mosquito-eating mammals. He did this for me; of my family I am the preferred mosquito feeder and I do not suffer in silence. As a human being I like to think I’m at the top of the food chain. Yet I am preyed upon by small,
blood sucking, vicious, insignificant invertebrates. You can’t see much detail in this now that it has been installed about 15 ft in the air, but he put a lot of time and detail into making a comfortable place for them to hook their little feet while they sleep. Through the building process Oso has become a student and advocate of bat needs. I have asked him to write a guest column about bat houses but he will probably wait until some bats actually move in. (Which, to our knowledge, they have not.)
Another nice thing he made us is a squirrel deflector. The back story to this is that after we moved into our house two years ago I was delighted to see a bumper crop of pecans festooning the branches of a tree in our front yard. For perspective, the postman said he had never seen so many pecans on that tree. Hundreds? Thousands? About 6 months later, I was dismayed to see a swarm of suburban pests we call squirrels absconding with ALL of the pecans. They started in early September. At all times during daylight, we could look out and see 4 to 6 squirrels crossing the yard. The ones coming toward my tree had empty mouths. The ones leaving the yard had 1 pecan or 2 in their mouths. To be more specific, unripe pecans. Picking the pecans before the squirrels wasn’t an option for us; unripe pecans cure to nothing as they dry. Those greedy little blighters pick them before they are even ripe and carry them off. I don’t think they enjoy soft and watery pecans either, but they are compulsive and selfish.
My plans to raise my little babies on rich woman’s fare (pecans) instead of poor woman’s fare (peanut butter) failed. But I didn’t give up. I said “If I can’t feed my family pecans, I will feed them squirrels.” I retrieved my trusty wrist rocket (a fancy slingshot for all of my cultured readers) from my home in WV (where else?) and practiced up. A YouTube video on sling shot accuracy gave me a lot of tips.
I have made a few direct hits on the squirrels but they just laugh and scurry away. I can’t even teach them a lesson because squirrels are unable to remember severe fright for more than a few minutes, if they did they would be paralyzed and fail to thrive (Adler, Bill Jr. Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Strategems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels, 1996)..
I’m still trying to find a humane, safe (for me), easy, and legal way to put the scourge of suburbia in a pot. Shooting with a slingshot is not it, obviously. But as a note to my family, next time we play paintball, my slingshot aim is much improved.
I decided the giant mousetraps I bought might catch our cat instead.
This year, my husband made our best advance yet in squirrel warfare. The deflector is a sheet metal barrier positioned high enough on the trunk that they can’t jump over it and long enough they can’t climb up it (or they haven’t learned to yet). My espOso also intrepidly braced up or trimmed all the sagging branches to deter branch climbers.
So far, it’s mostly working. It has really slowed the squirrels down. There is no longer a nut procession across the front yard at all hours. There is still one squirrel (I really can’t tell them apart but since I only see one at a time I think it’s just one) that climbs into our oak tree and drops from there into the pecan tree and climbs around picking pecans. A good number he takes one bite from and throws down because, as I could have told him, they’re not ripe yet. Some he seems to completely peel and eat though, judging from the shell pieces under the tree. The race is on, I guess. Will he eat or ruin every single one before they get ripe? Or will I get to make pecan cookies this fall? Stay tuned for what I hope will be recipe reviews!