Acting cagey
Thursday June 04th 2015, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Wildlife

I read Dave Barry’s description a number of years ago of the damage to his house after a major hurricane swept through Florida. His enclosed patio had simply ceased to exist.

Except for its door to outside and the frame it was attached to.

The door his dog was used to having the family open for him so he could go out in the yard and do his business.

No matter how many times Barry walked his dog around that door, trying to the left, to the right, to show him, Look! There’s nothing in your way now! You can go in the yard All By Yourself from this point!–the dog didn’t get it. Oh no. One does it properly. They had to walk over to that orphaned door and open it to let the dog walk through it or the dog simply wouldn’t go.

It was just like that here, too.

I saw a squirrel combing through the leaves of my Gold Nugget mandarin, looking for a meal. Its fruit isn’t going to grow to the size of ripe for at least nine more months–this was ridiculous. It’s a very small tree and so ordering a 36″ cover was a cheap fix and it might even still fit next year. (And after a year of using a NuVue and the Gardman cages, when I need a smaller one, I like the NuVues better. You do have to anchor them.)

I ordered one from a large retailer. They sent me two. Oops.

And so I set one over the mandarin and that was the end of that–the critters left it alone. We’ve been picking blueberries since January and they are apparently conditioned to the idea that they can’t get past structured bird netting. (They can, but don’t tell them.)

It would have been great if I had been able to use the second to cover my tomato patch but it was too short to go over my tallest support structure (well, tomato cage, to use the traditional but at this point repetitive term). The plan has been to set up my biggest Gardman over them but it will take two people and time to do and the set up will be a major pain and with us taking turns being sick these last few weeks, we simply haven’t pulled it out of last year’s box yet.

I did put some grape Koolaid on the tomatoes right after the first few to set were raided. That seemed to do it.

Then those new cages showed up last week: you just had to take one out of the box, walk out the door, untie four ties, and poof! The NuVue pops open, done! Last year I bought one in the biggest size and it arrived with a broken frame and I just used it anyway no matter what it looked like, but this smaller size came perfect and I like it. (The one in the photo is deliberately a little scrunched in rather than all the way open–I wanted it tight up against those plants.)

The squirrels like to come to the bird feeder area by way of sneaking carefully around things from the side farthest away from where I can see them out the window, as if that would make it so I wouldn’t notice them. And so I leaned the second cage in tight against that far side, with bushes covering the area behind.

Yesterday we had quite a wind for an area that rarely gets much of it and since I certainly hadn’t tied it down, that cage played tumbleweed and rolled well out of the way.

What happened next just had me staring in disbelief: a black squirrel decided within minutes that the coast was now clear and came in to the middle of my plants via that side that had been covered for a week. Sniffing at my coveted tomatoes.

Which, mind you, have been wide open all along at the other two sides.

I chased him away and set the cage firmly back where it had been and everything went back to normal. And it stayed normal today, too.

They stay clear. They know they can’t get in there. No matter what their eyes tell them.

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It was a hassle to get a pet door for Mr. Scruff because we had to get a completely new front door with pet door built into it.

The morning after installation I awakened to find Scruffy lying on the entryway rug, waiting for me to open the front door and let him out. He didn’t know, couldn’t know to take the few steps through the pet door. It felt like a low point at the time, but through a judicious use of turkey, he came to understand what was required of him.

Days arrived when I’d open the front door, and as I was doing so, he was wanting me to keep it still so he could use his own door. No turkey needed.

Comment by RobinM 06.05.15 @ 3:28 pm

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