Will spring EVER come? A week ago Monday I was basking in 70 degrees F; today it's threatening snow, and will be in the 30's all week. Sigh. After our brief week of warm weather (2 weeks ago), though, all of the snow and ice have melted from my yard, YAH! And the sump pump, which had kicked in two weeks ago Sunday, finally stopped its non-stop running five days later. It has cycled on only a few times since, so I know the ground has dried out after the foot and 1/2 of snow melted from the front lawn!
Now all the lawn services are going around door to door in the neighborhood trying to drum up business. They do NOT understand the meaning of N-O!
As you know, I'm a squirrel nut. I feed an entire tribe of them all year round. About a month ago, on a very sunny but bitterly cold day, two small squirrels showed up in my backyard. I could tell they were not regulars of the tribe because they were very thin and scrawny looking, and both of their tails were rather bedraggled. My heart immediately went out to both of them. I stood at my patio door and watched as they searched for food. One could barely move and was either very sick or injured, although I could not see exactly where or what its injury may have been; I thought perhaps it had the "tipping" disease -- that's what I call it -- I think it is a brain disease that affects a squirrel's balance; the other squirrel passed right by hazelnuts and peanuts, as if it couldn't see them. And then it dawned on me after watching for awhile, that little squirrel could NOT see. It was blind!
I very carefully opened up the patio door and rolled more nuts out, trying to get them as close to the newcomers as possible. The blind squirrel walked right over some of them, but once I hit in in the rump with a hazelnut he turned and was able to find the nut! My other, healthy fat squirrels tolerated their presence; normally the healthy squirrels will chase each other away if it looks like one is getting too greedy with the nuts or is attempting to move into the territory.
I had not seen a blind squirrel before -- could not even imagine that such a thing was possible -- how could a blind squirrel possibly survive in the wild? He actually got close enough to me, barely a foot away as I was kneeling down at the patio door attempting to roll nuts into its little paws, and I could see that its right eye was white-opaque -- maybe a cataract, maybe blind in that eye from birth? No way for me know. I named him Blinky, for it appeared that the right eyelid would droop over the blind eye as Blinky ate.
The other little squirrel that was either sick or injured (or both), did not come close enough for me to get a good look, but after about 10 days I was able to get some photos of him as he visited the yard and rummaged for peanuts (his preferred food over hazelnuts) and sunflower seeds:
The photo above was taken on March 12th, when the thaw was in progress (that's my back patio -- it was a mess). You can see the little one's injured left shoulder, the matted fur, and the wizened left leg and paw, but he has become chubby thanks to my food supply! I named him Intrepid, Treppy for short. It's just amazing to me that an animal could survive such a severe injury; how intrepid this little fellow must be. You are not able to see it in this photo but I could see where his skin has been torn open/pierced and the remains of dried blood -- along with the matted fur, I believe his shoulder/leg muscles were severely injured and he will be permanently crippled.
Over the next days Treppy and Blinky visited often. They may have come every day, but I did not see them every day. Slowly but surely, they got plumper, and Treppy is now moving around much more like a normal squirrel, and can climb trees and the fences.
Here is a photo of Treppy taken about March 17th:
He maneuvers on his hind legs and his right front leg; you can see in the photo above that he keeps his left leg in the air, but when he has to move in a hurry it goes down and he scrambles away as fast as any other squirrel! The injured area looks much improved from its condition in the March 12th photo.
I have not seen Treppy since the photo above, and I'm worried.
Today Blinky paid a visit and I was so happy to see him again! While Treppy is very leery of me and my camera, Blinky would come right into the house if I held the door open for him, LOL! Blinky is looking healthy, except for his blind right eye. I tried getting several photos of him, but my hands have the shakes today so most of the photos turned out too blurry to see much of anything. In the photo below (which is on maximum zoom on my ancient camera), you can sort of see his white eye as he sits atop the fence near my garage, happily nibbling away on a hazelnut:
He (she?) is not quite as chubby as Treppy but is in much better condition now than the first time I saw him. It seems he doesn't like being around the other squirrels, so he comes during non-rush hours (rush hours are sunrise to 8:30 and between 3-6 in the evening). He still has difficulty finding the nuts but he must have vision in his left eye, else I cannot imagine how he would be able to survive. This morning I spotted him sitting on top of the garage and I was relieved, for I had not seen him in several days.
I opened the patio door, and Blinky stood up. He didn't turn his head, though, he just kept his blind eye toward me -- could he possibly see something out of it? I tossed some nuts out -- and I could tell he instantly heard them hit the concrete patio. He came scrambling down the roof, jumped to the fence, and down to the patio and started searching; I rolled a few nuts to him -- it's like playing bocce ball with hazelnuts, LOL! Up into his little paws -- how do they hold a nut and climb at the same time? Up to the top of the fence, then he cracked open the hard hazelnut shell with his teeth. He ate four nuts, then disappeared toward the southeast over the garage roof.
I hope I see Treppy and Blinky again.
December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan