hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Return of the Racoons

(And other wild life).

It is the fall harvest season and it would be the time that the squirrels were making off with all the walnuts from the walnut tree.  Except that...well, following the general rule that the right time to prune is when  you have a pruning instrument in your hand, we severely pruned the walnut tree this spring after it bloomed.  It was really just all over the place and we had to walk around it.  The result, of course, was no walnuts for the squirrels.  No way to communicate the reasons for this action to the squirrels, of course.  By now, they've discovered the result for themselves.

However, since these walnuts have come to be a major part of their winter diet (they clean the tree out every year), I needed to find some other nutrition for them.  As it happened, I had several bags of pecans in my neighbor's freezer and my neighbor needed me to remove them from her freezer...they'd been there over a year and she might reasonably have thought that was long enough, but it was really more that they were thinking of selling the property and I was thinking about a source of nuts.

I have all these pecans because my older daughter owns a pecan tree in New Mexico and sends me many pounds of pecans each January.  Usually, I manage to allot the pecans (which I must shell; she's a wonderful daughter, but she doesn't shell 30-40 pounds of pecans for her dear old mother, or at least not yet) over the year, coming to the end of the supply about the time the new year's supply arrives.  But a couple of years ago, that didn't happen and I was still working on that year's supply when the new supply arrived.

Possibly, nuts in shells are okay for years when they are living in the freezer, but this particular lot had been a little dry in the first place and more difficult than usual to shell.  Sitting in the freezer was probably making them yet drier and it wasn't making them easier to shell.  So, it's almost November; I have yet two big bags of this year's pecans to get me through the next two months; and the squirrels can have the old pecans from the freezer.

I put out the first quart of nuts under the walnut tree about four days ago.  The next morning, nothing had happened.  The pecans were just where I put them.  Then, mid-day I saw the squirrel in the walnut tree.  And in the morning,  all pecans were gone.  So, I kept putting out more quarts as soon as the previously placed ones disappeared.  I never saw the squirrel touch them, but they would disappear.  Then, yesterday, after putting out a new bunch, two of our three raccoons showed up to poke around the pecans.  I didn't see them put them in their mouths but they did bat them around with their paws, as if trying to figure out what they could do with them.  Unsuccessfully.  And then two black cats appeared to take in the game.  And then, there was the squirrel up in the tree, his tail waving frantically, but not coming to ground.

Finally, I went out and the sight of me sent cats and raccoons racing away, while the squirrel went into hiding among the tree leaves higher up.  By nightfall, the last of about a gallon of pecans had disappeared.  The larder well stacked, the squirrel is likely to do all right this winter.  While the raccoons think about all the apples they could have stock-piled.  And the cats?  I don't know who they belong to, but they sure spend a lot of time in our yard as if they think we ought to be provisioning them.

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