I was out of town for 5 days last week working to further my education and edging closer to Dolphin MPS certification. It was a whirlwind trip and I got home late in the afternoon on the 21st.
My hubby has been a trooper this last year….. working full time, and managing the farm when I am out of town either educating others or getting educated myself. We are a great team, he and I, and we both see the benefits of what we are working towards.
As I drove up the driveway, I automatically began scanning my the pastures and doing a mental farm-ily checklist. I stopped and checked water troughs. The last one I checked caught me right in the heart. Despite the fact that there was a piece of wood floating in the trough (for little critters who might fall in and need a lifeboat), there were two dead squirrels. Drowned.
Of course, my first thought and breath prayer was that neither body belonged to Henri. It was not in an area that I could imagine she or her babies would be, but still….. it’s also not that far from the house. Charlie went out and disposed of the squirrels and cleaned the trough. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it… simply because I wasn’t sure who exactly had drowned. Let’s face it, squirrels all look pretty much alike. As much close contact as we have with Henri, I still can’t tell her apart from other squirrels except by her personality and approximate size.
We have incredible relationships with all of our animals out here, and although we grieve when one passes away, we are healthy about it. Life goes on, and so must we. What is nearly harder than death is when an animal comes up missing. It’s been a rare occurrence, but it has happened. Then you have a kind of limbo grief it’s hard to let go of… not knowing whether to grieve and move on or keep on hoping. Charlie hadn’t seen Henri the entire time I was gone so she had been missing already for about a week. As the days wore on, I started giving up on hope. I left nuts out and they didn’t get eaten. She really seemed to be gone, so my hope was that she had just gone into the wild and not drowned. That thought was a little sad too… but better than the alternative reason for her absence.
Today was a great day! Henri returned…. acting as tho she had never been missing. She looked thru the window and asked for nuts. Her favorite nuts come from our local pecan orchard, Foster Crossing Pecans.
Henri will snub the native pecans in favor of these babies. Just like the prodigal son…. only the best for our girl! (The owners are friends of ours and cannot believe we buy high end pecans for a squirrel. What can I say? She is worth it!)
Henri was more affectionate than usual now that she’s home, clearly happy to be with me and asking to be stroked for a few minutes before she got back to the business of eating and hiding pecans. I have no idea where she’s been, but my heart is lighter knowing she’s still with us.
Home is where your squirrel is, right?
Just because he’s so pretty! This is probably one of the most beautiful roosters we’ve had. I believe he is a Blue Orpington…..but we got him as a chick at the feed store, so who knows! Looking for a name for him and for some reason, Conrad seems appropriate to me. Pretty is is pretty does tho…. I hope he stays sweet. We have 4 roosters on location now… which is two too many for our hens. #nofilter #yeshiscombisthatred #prettyroo
Kindergarten: In the midst of the summer, we had 3 healthy calves. Rosie is the oldest (she is in the middle)…she was the tinest little calf you ever saw… not sure if you remember her from a post back in June, but now she looks like a hulk compared to her half brother. Her mama is Mercy. Willie was born in August, and he was a fairly big boy. Clementine is his mama and she is a large Jersey herself… so, like mama like son…. HUGE. He is two months younger than Rosie, but nearly her size. Waylon, our newest is almost two weeks old. His mama is Hershey. Hershey is 1/2 Angus and 1/2 Jersey, and we don’t milk her….. the Angus side of her makes her a little temperamental, and her milk is not A2/A2.
If you see a bit of a trend here on naming, you’ve guessed right. We name our male livestock after country music singers. Right now, our pasture is singin’ the blues with Willie, Waylon, Cash, and Conway. (Our bull’s name is Benny…. it’s the name he came with. As luck would have it, he got to keep his name….. there was a country music singer in the 50’s named Benny Barnes!)
Daisy : Things have settled back down after my mad dash around the country. Homeostasis within the hierarchy. Two weeks ago we agreed to foster a pup named Cole. Cole’s family has some health issues they are working thru, so he came to live with us til they get everything ironed out. Cole is a mini Aussie / Kelpie cross. He is smart as a whip, and he’s only 5 months old. It’s been a LONG time around here since we’ve had a puppy. He is all tiny teeth and endless energy. Interestingly, Daisy immediately took him under paw and began mothering him. She watches out for him, tolerates his sharp teeth, and reprimands him fairly gently when needed. She also plays HARD with him. His presence has really mellowed her demeanor….. either that, or she just seems more mellow compared to her companion! We’ve had no more skirmishes around here, and Lily is getting her courage back. I’d call this a foster win-win this time around :).
Henri : Henri has been a busy winter prepper these last several weeks. When we do see her, she nearly always has a nut in her mouth that she is about to tuck away. She is taking very little time to socialize, although she does stop and chat very briefly. Someone told me today that scientists have found that squirrels store nuts by category…. meaning they put their best nuts in one location, and their worst nuts in another location. I guess that’s akin to not putting all your eggs in one basket if you are a squirrel! I’m having visions of thousands of nuts eventually falling out of our porch ceiling :). Life with a squirrel is never dull. Her babies appear to have moved to the driveway trees. That area is not far from the house, and it’s loaded with acorns. I’m tickled that they vacated on their own, and that I didn’t have to do a trap and release maneuver.
Halloween Farm Style : It’s finally cooling off around here and like everywhere else, the days are getting shorter. I don’t normally mind spiders… they have their place on our farm. That said, I do NOT like walking thru spider webs in the dark!….. especially when you have no idea where said owner of the spider web is at the time of destruction. I have been bitten several times this summer by spiders, and I’m about done with it. You know it’s bad when you walk around at night in a salute so you don’t get a face full of web.
I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather! I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is a month away.
Be blessed! ~ liz
Yesterday was such an awesome day! So fun…. Henri brought the kid(s) down for a meet and greet. Honestly, I’m not sure if there were one or two babies. Briefly, it seemed like there were squirrel sightings all over our porch. In retrospect, I believe there might have been two. Teenage squirrels are not the best climbers. It’s definitely a skill that is honed with age and experience. Neither is jumping and leaping….. I would have to give them a solid ‘B’…. and that only for attempting everything their mama asked of them.
Henri chattered pretty much incessantly all morning. She scolded, coached, and cajoled them, and then would talk to me. Her body language was so very interesting. She wanted to make it very clear to ‘the kids’ that I was a friend. Henri jumps on me occasionally…. maybe once or twice a month. Yesterday, she bounded back and forth between my shoulder and the porch railing as if to say, “See, she’s harmless!”. She also spent time with the dogs, talking to them ….. venturing close to them…. and even once left the porch railing to run between their legs.
In addition to introducing the teens to me (and the dogs), Henri also made a clear effort to show them the food stations, where the water was, and how to get from the roof to the porch (there are a few ways she does this). The coaching lasted well into the afternoon…. a surprise……she usually takes a siesta during the heat of the day. I’m fairly certain she was giving them all the info so that she could shut off the free ride/milk supply. They are about the age Henri was when we began acclimating her to living outdoors. I guess we handled that right as adoptive squirrel parents!
I’m praying that these little guys/gals will decide to relocate to the trees behind our house and not choose to live on the porch with Henri. Everything I read states that squirrels generally prefer solitude vs running around as a pack (technically, a scurry)….. and I hope it’s true. I don’t want to get a reputation as the crazy squirrel lady!
Henri has not yet revealed her babies to us. We can tell they are still nursing, so we just have to assume they are ok. Surely we’ll see them soon!
Squirrels are such interesting little characters. They truly are one of God’s cheeky little creatures….. full of sass and impertinence. As vulnerable as they are, you’ve got to give them credit for ingenuity and confidence…. well, until their indecisiveness kicks in when they are trying to cross a road!
I was curious about literary greats who used squirrels in their works. (Don’t ask me why… it was a squirrel moment for me.) Sadly, squirrels don’t seem to portend anything happy or good according to a list I found…. at least in literature. But for me, they are a symbol of joy with a dash of bossiness thrown in for good measure!
I did find this poem in my search. It’s clever. I read a fair amount of RWE in high school and college. He too apparently saw sass and impertinence in our fox tailed friend!
The Mountain And The Squirrel
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter
“You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I’m not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry:
I’ll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track.
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.”
Y'all have a blessed day,
Henri continues to keep her babies hidden, although we can hear them now. I’m pretty confident that we’ll soon see how many she has. She leaves them for longer periods of time, and is spending time relaxing on the porch with us, the cats, and the dogs. The interaction between species really is an amazing thing to witness.
Here’s a few pics from one of our afternoons together. She is a wild squirrel now, and much like a temperamental cat, she chooses when and where she wants interaction. There are days that she is incredibly affectionate and wants petting, and there are other days where she just wants food and a brief hello. Aren’t we all like that, really?
We don’t push her, we just appreciate her presence. I’m still toying with getting her spayed, and really need to start investigating my options (ie: look for an exotic animal vet that will do it). Otherwise, we’ll be rehoming youngsters for the rest of our lives!
Remember that post where I breathed a sigh of relief because Henri wasn’t preggers?….and then I breathed another sigh of relief because “they” said that squirrels don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 10-11 months old? Well, who ever “they” are needs to rewrite their squirrel biology book…. either that, or Henri is one incredibly precocious 8 month old squirrel, and has clearly been flitting around when we weren’t looking when she was 6 or 7 months old.
Look what’s going on here…. (I’ve circled the evidence). Somebody(s) is being fed the traditional mammal way….. via the mammary route. Lord help us. As my husband said…..”And NOW, we have a squirrel problem”. (He smiled when he said it, but we’re both thinking the same thing). We’ve not seen the wee ones yet, but I’m sure we will in a few weeks. That will give us time to put a plan together. I’m open to ideas, suggestions etc as to humanely catch and release littles into the world. We have acreage so I do think we could simply move them about 20 acres away and that should be sufficient. I fear the same would not be true for Henri. Her home is here and she knows it. Does anyone know if it’s possible to spay a somewhat wild squirrel??? I’m doing the ‘if 1 squirrel has 6 babies, and .5 of them have 6 babies etc story problem in my head and I see us quickly outnumbered’. This is going to be an interesting summer!
Good Sunday morning!
If you have been hanging around my blog for awhile, you might recall that we share our lives with a squirrel named Henri. This little girl came to us last fall as an orphan, and was hand raised. It’s not my first rodeo in squirrel rearing, but it is my first with a female squirrel. Because she is a wild animal, our intention was always to raise her and then return her to a somewhat protected environment where she can ‘be a squirrel’ as God meant her to be.
Her release was gradual when the time came…. first letting her spend time outdoors and getting her acquainted with the area (in her case, our wraparound porch). We went from supervised playtime outdoors to semi-unsupervised playtime outdoors, and from nights spent indoors to nights spent outdoors. We bought her an enormous parrot cage that has a top that can be left open, and she began sleeping outdoors in that protected environment. I left the top open, and she would play all day out of her cage, and then return to the cage on her own free will to sleep there at night. One night several months ago, she didn’t come ‘home’ for the night, and I tried my best to hold down the panic of her absence. She was a teenager after all…. and we all know what kind of trouble teens can get themselves into after dark, especially given the predators that come out once the sun goes down. Thankfully, she was ok, and showed up the next morning for breakfast. She did however find a new home…. kind of. She had started her own apartment in the sub-ceiling of part of our barn/stall area that is attached to our home (yes, I know it sounds weird, but we are very animal friendly around here!).
The months have gone by, and Henri has turned into an independent adult squirrel. She still lives 100% with us, but is free to do whatever it is that squirrels do during the day.
I’ve been biting my nails as spring has approached. We live on the tree lined edge of pastured land, so Henri would actually have to make a bit of a run to the trees to find a community of her own kind. Surprisingly, as communicatively extroverted as they are, squirrels do not tend to be ‘pack animals’ (a group of squirrels is actually called a ‘scurry’)…. preferring to live life on their own terms. They will come together a few times a year (usually spring and fall) to mate and have babies. THIS is what I’ve been biting my nails over! While we love Henri, and she’s found a good safe place in the auspices of our care to live out her life (under our roof), I’m more than a little concerned about what might happen if she finds a cute little male squirrel to make babies with. Doing the math, it appears that in just a few short years, we’d have 262,144 squirrels living with us (provided that they all survived of course). I hope you are now biting your nails too… because that prospect is a little daunting. So far, Henri, has shown zero destructive tendencies in her living arrangements, but squirrels can be fairly destructive to a home if left to their own devices, and we’d be a little outnumbered rather quickly.
Henri is an Eastern Fox Squirrel, and I just did a little more digging on their mating habits. I’ve been watching her like a hawk this spring… looking for evidence that she’s had a tryst with some little guy who caught her eye, but other than getting a little chunky, she’s shown no signs of impending motherhood. Technically, and according to literature, spring litters should have already sprung. I worried then, that something had happened to the babies (I know, I’m bipolar on my stance on this… but what’s a mama to do?). This morning I found the following: “Females become sexually mature at 10 to 11 months of age and usually produce their first litter when they are a year old.”
Gahhhhh! Given this information, I can relax for just a wee bit longer…. Henri’s only 7 months old. I can breathe a little more freely until late summer and early fall, and we can worry about this all over again :).
So this morning, I bring you a little sunshine from my little girl, Henri. Enjoy your day!
Prepping. The word connotes to many the idea that we (preppers) are a bit like Chicken Little (you know… The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling). It used to be if you ‘prepped’ for something like the SAT, or a big dinner party, that was a good thing and the action was smiled upon. So how did it happen that we exchanged the “d” for an “r”, and suddenly those who prepare for the unknown are thought by many to be a few Fruit Loops short of a full box? Just something to think about.
In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to one of our farm mascots and the ULTIMATE prepper…. Henri! Henri was hand raised after falling out of a tree onto an unsuspecting friend (who may or may not have screamed like a girl). Her mother was nowhere to be found, and she had no interest in returning to her nest despite attempts to place her there. I’ve worked with animals all my life, even having had a short career as a zoo keeper, and this is not my first rodeo squirrel raising experience. She was still young enough to need milk replacer, but was becoming of age to move on to more varied foods. She really thrived on a product called Ningxia Red, as well as other food supplements that baby squirrels need.
Today, she is about 7 months old, and is quite the #oilyfarmsquirrel / farm mascot. We have 6 very large dogs, and not only is she friends with them, she has also become part of their pack, and considers herself one of their own. See friends, …. animals have this down…. no matter their differences, ideologies, and predator vs prey status, it is possible to work out a friendship. Seems like since we have bigger brains than both squirrel or dog, our world ought to spin with a little more friendship and handshakes if we bypassed prejudices like we do out here on the farm :).
Henri was raised and released once she was old enough. She has chosen to live alongside us, and we are happy to accommodate her. Her presence has gifted us with additional smiles and quiet peace. She reminds us as only squirrels can:
We might have bigger brains and opposable thumbs, but we can still learn a lot from our four legged friends!
Henri the squirrel video, Enjoy your day!
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!