Thursday, April 30, 2009
I do hand stands for you...
I had a darn good "eyewash" (as my Mom used to call it) crying this morning when I saw this video and was madly cheering the little guy on right from the beginning.... but, also was thrilled to see that some young people are still so caring and silly about animals ... just like me. This is only an excerpt of a story I wrote a few years ago about MY little guys...and kind of long..but I had to post the whole part about the climbing.... ....
Our wheelbarrow was leaning up against the fence between our yard and Wally’s yard. The handles were pointing upwards…resting on the boards of the fence; the wheel was at the bottom but it was not touching the ground. She was trying to coach them on how to climb up onto the wheelbarrow, then further up to the handles of it and so to the fence. It looked like it could take more than a day or two... She was an experienced old lady squirrel but they were just little beginners. They didn’t quite have things figured out yet, and besides,….maybe they had no strength or maybe they didn’t know how to use their tiny claws properly yet. I don’t know for sure what it was but they would just slide right off the metal parts so they kept jumping on the wheel because it was the only thing they could cling to. When it went around they would have to run but then it would go faster and even faster until they would practically “fly” off! …...... I even put a 2X4 piece of wood out there; leaned up against the fence. I was hoping they could use that to climb up...but, no luck..…. After only a few days Greg was threatening to roust them out of their little place behind the shed. He said he didn’t want a big messy nest in there….it could be dangerous for fires if it got really dry or if somebody was careless with a cigarette or something. Well, I had not seen any mess yet…they just seemed to be kind of “camping out” in those big black plastic pipes. We don’t smoke…and I sure was hoping nobody else would be silly enough to toss matches or lit cigarettes out of their cars as they drove past in the alleyway….….. so why bother the babies?...you don't use the shed anyway Greg…. I do. ...and I feed them peanuts and move very slowly so they don't get too worried about me. I would only go in there to get the lawnmower or some shovels or rakes and they would scurry into their pipes and hide until I went away again.
All of a sudden, one day, I noticed the others were gone....this poor little “bean” was the only one left behind….so, that became his first nickname I guess. I called him “Bean” or “Little Bean” most of the time. Well, he WAS pretty tiny. His brothers and sisters must have learned to climb but this guy was slower or smaller or something. Oh, I didn’t like the look of things now…. what could be wrong with this little tyke? Mooch had finally done it….coaxed the rest of them up the wheelbarrow handles. Now they could run along the top of the fence to the nearest spruce tree. They would know what it was like to be real squirrels and not ground squirrels. For this little guy though… there were tough times ahead. The wheelbarrow handles were way out of his reach and even the 2X4 seemed too smooth. So many times he tried to climb up either the wheelbarrow or the board… with his mother encouraging him from the top of the fence. He even jumped up onto it but just couldn’t seem to grip it. He would cling mightily for awhile and almost seem to move upward a bit… then as he got tired….he slowly slid upside down right under it and eventually would just slide down all the way to the ground. After several attempts he would usually have to give up and go into his pipe for a rest. I thought Mooch would soon desert him and not come back. I began to put some peanuts right beside the shed for him but he couldn’t figure out how to get them out of the shell. So, then I cracked the shells for him too….and put out just the nuts. He took foorrreevveerrr to eat just one peanut! He was so cute but he must have been very lonely all by himself out there. Once in awhile he would still come out into the warm sun and lie on the dirt in the garden after eating a peanut…all that chewing probably tired him right out. …But he was pretty nervous all alone and who could blame him? He was just a tiny baby. Then, two days later, his mom did come to visit him and play for awhile. They ran all over the backyard together and had a great time; then she ate all his peanuts! Later she went up the wheelbarrow and he tried several times to do the same...that darn wheel! It almost killed him! I couldn’t stand it anymore so I went out and stuck one of my mitts in it to stop it from going around. That worked, at least so far as to help him climb up further...but when he got to the end of the handle there was still quite a jump to the top of the fence. He really tried hard but bounced right off the boards of the fence, not clinging at all, and down he fell...he landed hard on the metal part of the barrow. Bink! Boing!! I even heard it through the window! Ouch!! I almost cried...the poor little guy. He tried and tried, but couldn't do it still...all I could hope was that he would get stronger and soon be able to do it too… just like the others. I didn't know how long his mother would keep trying for him. A few days in a row I didn't see her and by then I thought she must have given up. Maybe he was on his own now...he was still just a little baby.. I didn't know if he would survive with nobody to “show him the ropes” and, of course, he didn't know he was supposed to be "up" not down on the ground. Darn it, why did she have them on the ground anyway?
I would watch him every day through my bedroom window to see how he was doing...every night I wished on a star that he soon would get up a tree or onto the shed roof so he would be safe and I could quit worrying about him.
When I told my sister Vikki about the little “bean”…she said I should give him little bits of apple, so I did….. I also put out some dried cranberries with his shelled peanuts. It was like a little vegetarian feast out there in front of our garden shed. Then we wondered what he would drink…Greg suggested some milk, as he was just a baby. I put some out in a glass coaster because I thought it was the only thing that wouldn’t tip over and drown him and it was shallow enough that he could drink easily out of it. It worked for a few days because the milk did disappear, although I only actually saw him drink out of it once….could have been the cats in the neighbourood helping themselves to “freebies”. When it began to remain in the shallow dish for a day or two at a time I decided maybe he didn’t like milk anymore or perhaps it just wasn’t what squirrels needed. I began to put water in it instead and I think he did drink most of it…of course the magpies helped….. but I changed it every day anyway so that he had fresh water just in case he needed a little sip of something.
I don’t even know when it was that he began to climb up the wheelbarrow….but one day I saw a little squirrel fall off the fence into a bush in Wally’s yard and decided that it must be “my” little guy. I was excited. Okay, so he didn’t have it quite perfected yet, but it meant he could finally climb! I hadn’t seen him around the shed much lately and there were other black squirrels running in and out of our yard now so I wasn’t sure which one he was anymore. Then I did notice a certain little squirrel that spent more time on the ground than the rest….he seemed to walk more than he jumped and was just a bit different somehow. As a matter of fact his fur was thick and glossy and he looked very healthy. I decided then and there…. that was him….that was MY orphan squirrel!...