Punk chipmunk is branded for life

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Mother Nature has pulled some not-so-nice tricks this spring and the one she came up with this past week convinced me that indeed the whole world, including some of its furry creatures, had gone mad.
But while I thought my observation was a mean trick, it was not, as you’ll find out at the end of this, just something I had never before known or seen.
My morning’s entertainment while the coffee transfusion begins to work is, as you know, enjoying the furry and feathered friends outside the kitchen window.
I’ve told you about the belligerent little chipmunk that was terrorizing the birds, even the rabbits who snack on the birdseed on the concrete porch, and I said he was going to have to live elsewhere. He did.
But whether his new digs weren’t to his satisfaction or if they just weren’t far enough away from home, he reappeared. I watched as he continued his argumentative ways and then I watched in astonishment as he actually caught a sparrow!
While it fluttered frantically in those little jaws, its captor struggled to carry it away to, I suppose, its den.
Neither the chipmunk nor the sparrow were seen again that day.
Thinking this had to be an aberration, I went to my Fieldbook of Natural History. I was surprised to read that chipmunk food consists of “a variety of plant and animal materials, including insects, other small animals, nuts, vegetables and bulbs of garden flowers, buds, bark and young and nesting birds.”
Yes, the murderous little monster has been removed to still another location, but not before it was “branded” with red liquid nail polish applied with a long straw through the wire of the humane trap.
And while sparrows are not my favorite birds, somehow I’ll never feel quite the same about chipmunks.
This one certainly did not lack for other food so no desperation was involved. I will know him if he dares to come back!
* * *
How lovely to hear the swallows conversing in the back of the barn as they fly in and out through the open doors, taking over the same nest they built a few years ago.
Their return on April 22 was just one day before their return last year, and the house wren began singing April 27, while juncos still fed on the porch. The first catbird relished the suet May 1.
And speaking of sparrows, I watched one little fellow doing his courtship dance, fluttering his wings and strutting with his tail feathers spread like a miniature tom turkey. His lady friend was unimpressed and hopped away.
Surprise visitors on the back porch one late afternoon: a pair of mallards! They strolled around, looked around, hopped off into the grass, looked around some more, and then flew back to the pond. What fun!
* * *
Wet bunny tracks mark the driveway coming from the daffodils around the three-step mounting block. Every year a mama rabbit excavates her nest behind the ivy and the foliage where it is unseen – but the tracks give her away.
I try not to bother her, and sometimes don’t see the babies until they panic at the sound of the lawn mower and dash for the thick ivy around the old carved sandstone horse head.
* * *
With windows soon to be opened – we hope – the occasional fly gets in the house, and in an old house, like mine and maybe yours, those big buzzy flies seem to literally come out of the window woodwork.
Here’s a good trick I invented to remove them without making a mess by swatting them: Spray them directly with window cleaner and they drop so you can dispose of them – and clean your window at the same time!
* * *
Apache and Toby are just about relieved of their winter coats, thanks to my diligence every few evenings.
Apache shines like patent leather and Toby’s honey-colored coat gleams in the sunshine. He is into his usual spring lameness, although not quite as severe yet as we caught it early. He’s going to have to have shoes for the summer though.
He has the same problem Barbaro had, laminitis, but so far it is being handled.
It tickles me to no end that NBC received thousands upon thousands of complaints when the scheduled hour-long special on Barbaro set for April 28 was bumped for an overtime hockey game!
I was one of those complaining to Channel 21 and the network rescheduled it for 8 p.m. after the Kentucky Derby.
Only those who ride or have ridden horses will appreciate this anonymous Arabian quote: “The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.”

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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