I promise that there will be a ballroom related topic soon. I just haven’t had any lessons but I’ve got the urge to write. Sometimes, I just get into these moods and writing is a skill that requires practice and I figure I can always use the practice.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I’ve got several bird feeders around our house. Its a source of joy and relaxation to just watch and listen but I like to think I’m doing my part to help out the bird population.
I do live within the city limits of a large major metropolis but I live in a part of the city where there are still some nice wooded areas. I live relatively close to a creek that floods from time to time which limits development so there are open spaces. I do find it amazing how adaptable the urban wildlife have become and how many can be supported by what is not a large woods.
So, in addition to birds, I’ve got the other assorted small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons. Got the occasional rabbits and possums but they aren’t as common. We plant a lot of flowers and with the bird seed, most of these can be an annoyance but what are you going to do? The only one I can get a serious hate on for is the chipmunks because they are greedy. They’ll sit on the feeders and stuff themselves and then run off and bury the seed and then come back and repeat. They can empty a feeder faster than the squirrels can.
The raccoons can be especially destructive and we had one that was able to shimmy up a drain pipe to get to an upper deck where we have some feeders. Naturally, this happened at night and Rocco would hear the noise and try to nose his way through the curtain. Fortunately, we figured out how he was getting to the deck and blocked it.
Turns out though it was a mother raccoon with two babies living under one of our other decks. I know, this is not the ideal situation but as babies, they were just so cute. (Yes, I’m that kind of guy who looks at baby animals and goes ‘awww, that’s cute’). My wife is even worse than me though so we quickly went from “aren’t they cute” to “we need to feed them”. I tried to tell her that they’ve got lots of food and could survive without our help and that, even if they didn’t, nature can be cruel. Yeah, that didn’t work. She was convinced that they didn’t know how to fend for themselves and besides, they were just so gosh darn cute, how could we not feed them. I rationalized that by giving them corn (which is cheap), I could keep them out of the more expensive bird food. So, sometime last fall, I started tossing some shelled corn down to feed them.
Well, in addition to the small mammal population, we have a surprising number of deer that live in the nearby area. I know this because they show up every spring and summer to eat our lillies and begonias and hostas. The phrase “deer-resistant” is now something I have to consider when shopping for flowers and plants. So, I guess it was only a matter of time before the large mammals decided to get in on the party and, sure enough, one day, a yearling male showed up to get in on the action.
See, I figured that as the weather got cold, the raccoons become less active so I just had to buy some corn until it got cold. But deer are active all winter and soon enough the raccoons were gone but our deer remained. I know I shouldn’t encourage this because come spring he’ll just help himself to whatever plant life he can find and they can be quite destructive. But, my wife is again convinced that he needs our help to get through the winter even though this is a mild winter and, he looks pretty well fed given all the corn he’s consumed. I’m lucky that she’s stopped at corn. She keeps saying things like “what else could we feed him”.
The bad part is that he’s not really very skittish around me anymore. Then again, he’s an urban deer who probably grew up in our neighborhood so people aren’t that scary. But I swear he shows up and looks up into our window to let us know he is there and ready for some food. When I go out on the deck to toss the corn down, he backs away but only just into the woods. Then, he bounces out to feast when I go back in the house.
And, lately, he’s been bringing friends. There is an older female and another yearling that sometimes accompany him. They are still scared of people and don’t stay too long so that’s a good thing. They have trampled part of my yard where I was trying to grow grass although it is frozen now so that should minimize the damage. I do have to admit that they are beautiful animals and it is fun to see them up close. Drives the dogs absolutely crazy though. We’ve trained Rocco not to bark at animals outside the house so he just sits in the window staring out and whining. Every now and then, he realizes nobody is watching and barks at them.
I could always rationalize this as well since the squirrels and blue jays also eat the corn that I’m really not feeding just the deer. Yeah, that doesn’t fly with me. I know it is better in the long term to let them fend for themselves so once we get through January, I think I’m going to close down the restaurant and stick to just feeding the birds.