A summer of animal visitors

July 5, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

It has been a season of summer visitors. Animals, that is.

I don’t know about all of you, but I have been chased inside, literally, by the flying creatures of summer – flies, mosquitoes, and whatever flying varmints appear during these warm summer months. With all of the rain that has showered upon us these last few weeks, it has created a pooling ground for mosquito hatching.

I have raspberries and rhubarb calling to be picked; so the other day, my husband and I decided to take those mosquitoes on. They were not going to stop me from making my rhubarb dream bars and raspberry jam. One just can’t let that luscious red gold go unharvested, so ripe they are plucking off the cane, blanketing the ground.

Covered from head to toe in apparel and repellant, we captured those berries without too much damage done to us or those bugs, except for some conversation shared with those tiny varmints.

Well, summer creature time was, and is not, over yet. Another rodent mission appeared before me the other morning. I walked into my garage from our house entrance and I saw something brown skitter across our work bench. It wasn’t a mouse, the tail was too bushy. The culprit – a chipmunk. The goal – the garbage. (I had left a small bag of recycleables on the bench.)

The garage door was closed, which meant the garbage-eating guy was trapped inside. My first plan of action was to open the garage door. I stepped inside and a few minutes later quietly opened the garage door, and there he was in plain sight, sitting on top of the garbage can. I stepped back inside to confer with my partner, my 13-year-old son, to plan the next mode of action, which was sure to be very technical.

We stepped out cautiously to place some food in the driveway to lure him out. Chip the Chipmunk was no longer in sight.

Thinking quickly but carefully, the next m.o. – throw a rubber ball toward the work bench. I did, and no chipmunk appeared or skittered about. I am not sure if the mission was accomplished, but it was time to move on. (I learned this technique from a group of highly-intelligent men who used this plan of action on a skunk that was nestled behind the freezer in our garage a few summers ago. This did not work so well, as one can imagine. This story earns its own article for another time.)

The next summer creature mission: flower eating rabbits. Rabbits are the cutest critters there are, but I just don’t want them munching on my flowers. This summer we have seen an abundant number of bunnies hopping around our property.

I went out to look at some new perennials I had planted, and my beautiful buds were munched right down to the ground. I felt a little violated. I did not want to harm the bouncing bunnies, so I tried a natural trick. I sprayed vinegar and sprinkled some red pepper flakes around my plants, which I am sure just can’t be a treat for the taste buds. Time will tell.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love summer and wildlife and I don’t have a rodent-infested house; in fact, it is just a 10-year-old house. But, I do live in the country with some acreage that is very near the Crow River, which means we have various visitors from time to time.

In fact, just the other day as I was looking out a second-story window, which has a wonderful view of the river, I observed a beautiful lone deer munching on some alfalfa in the field behind our house. It stayed stationary so long, I thought for a while it was an inanimate object. But it did stick its head up and bounded to the edge of the field. It always takes my breath away when a deer so gracefully leaps through the air. (No wonder Santa uses reindeer for his flight each year. My youngest daughter thinks all deer are in training for this highly–sought job).

Our children and their cousins have been lucky enough to follow the hatching of three different nests of baby robin eggs. One was nestled in a hole in the trunk of an old oak tree, another in a spruce tree, and a third in a good old maple. Now, that is life biology lessons at its best.

The most unexpected visitor this summer, though, has been a red fox, although not living. After a trip with my children to the dentist, we pulled into the driveway, and I could see something red and furry lying on the ground. At first, I thought it was a cat, as we often have cats that make their way across our property. As I neared the deceased animal, it definitely was a red fox. Possibly another animal left it lying there, or it got hit by a vehicle and that is as far as it made it. Again, not sure.

While it may not exactly be the Como Zoo, our summer of animal visitors has been just as entertaining and fascinating to our family.