The 9th Annual Toys for Tots Golf Tournament

THROUGH THE WOODS: Those blasted squirrels!

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YEARS AGO we were hard at work in our labs in Schenectady when all the generators kicked in and we knew there was a power outage. This went on for hours until we had word that a gray squirrel was “fried” in our nearby power station, knocking out power for thousands of customers at a cost of untold thousands of dollars. No one had a word of sympathy for the poor squirrel, which had probably been doing just what squirrels do, scampering along wires and looking for food and shelter in man’s domain.

On our farm, our Sheltie dog had an ongoing war to keep them off the porch. We could hear her frenzied “squirrel bark” and would see her in hot pursuit of the blurred gray fur she never caught. Talk about frustration.

Our frustration was how they managed to eat so much birdseed. The sunflower seed was kept in a wooden barrel with a tight lid. One day we moved it out from the porch wall and discovered a neat and quite large hole near the bottom that had been gnawed through to gain access to the seed. We perfected some good squirrel curses @#$%!!

Gray squirrel. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

A metal can let the dog do her best, and she had abundant exercise. Sunflower seed prices seem astronomical now and will get worse with the loss of fertilizers for our farmers and the loss of Ukraine seed and supplies. We have looked at many “squirrel-proof” feeders and tried some without much success. The question: Was there truly a way to stop the little varmints? The bird supply stores said yes and showed displays. My favorite was the battery-operated “twirl a squirrel” that was weight-activated to spin and throw the squirrel off. I loved it, but it was too expensive, even for the entertainment factor.

Another was the highly-rated “Squirrel Buster,” which I chose. It is wonderful and more than saved its cost in seed conservation. The squirrels try until they are foiled, learn and leave it alone. However, it is not bear-proof. Two disappeared completely, with one found demolished in the woods. One was bitten in half and emptied on the lawn. Then I learned. Feeders go up after bears are well into hibernation and are taken down when they come out again in spring. That means now for our area. People are already finding fresh bear scat near Chatham.

I am currently using only two feeders on my porch and take them in during the late afternoon. Soon I will stop feeding completely. I get plenty of birds even without feeding them and they can find natural food which is good for them. The squirrels eat naturally too! They love tree buds!

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