Critter's Influence On Human Behavior
UNCIVIL RODENT WARS
Spring buries what looks like dirty, white draped fallen soldiers, those last patches of snow in my yard just far enough behind and beneath the trees to keep the sun's reach from doing the job itself. The leaves and twigs that spent the winter under the snow, joined by the doggie-do and blown in trash that spent the winter on top the snow, now litter almost every inch of my yard. A rake and shovel are my weapons of choice to clean the battle field where soon fresh green reinforcements, the blades of summer, will invade as the sun and rains decide when to blow the bugle and start the charge. While my yearly mopping-up operations of the yard were in full progress, I begin to notice the collateral damage taken in this war by my fruit trees and berry bushes. RODENTS !!! It seems every living object of value to me was a culinary object of value to the shrews and field mice, the chipmunks and squirrels that set up winter camp near their favorite fine dining establishments, "MY" fruit trees and berry bushes !!! These spoils of war to the rodent huns, so hard earned financially, and even harder fought physically by the good guys in this conflict, were plunked down over a decade's time into the rocky clay which lies beneath the inch or so of top soil that allows my summer's yard to become just green enough by itself that I do not have to paint it to be so. Success in battle, the battle to fill my friend's and family's bellies with "literally" the fruits of my labor are once again being challenged. As Bugs Bunny (a rodent "allied" to me in this conflict ???) used to say "Of course you know this means WAR !!! In this case however,TOTAL WAR, shock and awe war, Sherman's march to the sea war. There will be no prisoners taken, and unconditional surrender are the only terms offered and accepted.
BIRD FEEDER WELFARE
Just as I had barely begun to make preparations for what will become an ugly and protracted clash between the two-leggers and the four-leggers, the squirrel brigade of the the furry tailed rat division opened up a second front on my undefended flank, against the "oh that's why it's empty" bird-feeder in another part of the yard. These hyper foes are the guerrilla warriors of this conflict. Nearly fearless, they are sent in early to harass and distract me from my main objective, a bountiful harvest of fruits and berries this year, and damage control during next winter's campaign season. So far they are succeeding in their mission. Pellet rifle armed and dangerously delusional, I wait for the six-pack of the enemy I spy creeping up to invade the contested bird-feeder. Give them a false sense of security, then sneak up on them slowly and quietly to plug them one at a time is my initial battle tactic. It very quickly proves it won't be my last tactic, as six squirrels scurry off and seem to fly from the feeder into the trees before I can even take aim, let alone get a shot off. "Return to my lines, wait for my enemy's return, and try to imagine what General Lee or Grant would do in this situation" my head now tells me. After a short wait, I try my first tactic again, this time getting one shot off at a fleeing but again unhit and undeterred opponent. This will be a long summer and a long war.
DEER TO THE LEFT OF ME, SQUIRRELS TO THE RIGHT .....
As the second skirmish with the furry tails becomes a memory but a few minutes past, I see a another force in the distance, waiting to open yet a third front against me. DAMN the deer, full speed ahead !!! inspires me as I rush headlong after these white tailed storm troopers, my arms flailing and lips cursing, only to drive them a few dozen yards further back. Their ears face forward and their eyes dart between my panting one man defensive and their now quite obvious objective. Within their keen vision lies the goal of hunger's battle plan... start first with this year's tender but naive new shoots optimistically poking their feelers from the freshly exposed, snow free flower beds. Next, finish off the plump buds and fresh twigs on what are left of the still harvestable but mostly pathetic remnants of fruit trees and berry bushes still standing by the dawn's early light, proudly hailed and spindly survivors of the previous few months assault against them. If I am forced to give up my current ultimately futile defense, all things edible by man or beast stand unshielded against the devil's own white tailed cavalry gathered for a lightning raid at the twilight's last gleaming. Previous experience with them has revealed to me they attack in daylight and dark, rain, snow or sunny glow. Battlements of chicken wire and tall metal posts are my only hope to defend against them, but is there time to build my defenses before they and their allies and an unknown quantity of reinforcements overwhelms me ??? STAY TUNED !!!