Cori Brown: An end-of-year hodge podge

Cori Brown: An end-of-year hodge podge
Busted! A red squirrel is caught in the act of breaking and entering. (Cori Brown photo)

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is almost over. This last month was one big blur.

House renovations, holiday visitors, parties and way too much rain left little time for me to enjoy the outdoors.


The local squirrels got wind of this and took pity on me. They decided to entertain me. This meant as many as eight of them partied with abandon in the yard at any given time. Their goal — bust up the 11 bird feeders hanging outside of the kitchen windows.

Regrettably, they succeeded in destroying two of them with audacious efficiency. These were feeders I had for years. One suspect was none other than my favorite red squirrel!

He took his cue from a grey squirrel who discovered that he could drop from a high tree limb on to the top of a free standing feeder. He passed on his intel to the little red guy and off to the races he went.

Red squirrels may be little but they are tough as nails. He literally chewed off the feeder ports and then proceeded to make the holes even bigger to get out even more seeds. By the time he got done, the feeder resembled a chunk of Swiss cheese with holes in it everywhere. Another feeder bites the dust!

Meanwhile, his lazier grey squirrel cousins no doubt enjoyed the fruits of his labor by snatching up the leftover seed. A recent visitor to the house remarked about how fat the grey squirrels in the yard were. No kidding!

In desperation, I contacted the power couple Red-tailed hawks across the road. They go by the business name of Beak and Claw (B&C). Their slogan: we have the beaks, you have the eats. I waved my arms and told them the diner is open 24/7!

They are nearly always together now because it’s time for them to scope out nesting sites. Eagles and owls are on the same mission. What better way to fuel their house hunting than with a squirrel a day (or two if they’re really hungry).

One half of the Red-tailed hawk power couple in residence across the road from the house.
One half of the Red-tailed hawk power couple in residence across the road from the house. (Cori Brown photo)

Though B&C acknowledged that I have a smorgasbord in the yard, they turned down my business due to difficult aviation conditions. It seems I have too many trees to execute the proper drop and snatch maneuvers required for a successful hunt.

They suggested I contact their smaller cousins, the Coopers and Sharpies. Trees don’t intimidate them one bit. I’ve got an emergency call into them. I hope they call back soon!

That goes for the local red fox, too. Come on over!

It’s rare when I see one in the day time (I get them on the trail cams almost every night) but that’s what happened a few days before Christmas. This guy was hunting in the same field as the Red-tails. He was a beauty. He didn’t stay long once he heard the neighbor’s dogs bark. Seeing him in that frosty field was a great early Christmas present.

Meanwhile, inside our humble abode, more specifically inside the old walls, the mice are getting the last laugh as they scurry their way to rodent heaven. A most unpleasant aroma permeates the entire house from the basement to the attic.

I can’t burn enough candles or spray enough room freshener to eradicate the eau de mice cologne. A DIY site on line suggested that the best way to get rid of the smell is to drill a hole in the wall, extricate the offending perpetrator and cover it back up. Are you kidding?

In my dreams, I envision piles of little mouse bones hidden in the deep dark recesses of the walls (along with lots of old walnuts) waiting to be unwittingly discovered (stashes of money would be a lot nicer). I will leave that task to the next owner!


To top off the year, there’s water, water everywhere. I have never seen so much water coming from so many springs and seeps on our property. Pop up streams have been flowing for months. Our sump pump runs every day.

If I made a slow motion movie of the dog on her walks, you would see sprays of water and mud flying wherever she goes. Her belly and legs are covered in it. Personally I think she relishes all the mess. Me, not so much.

I don’t know the weather statistics for this year, but I would not be surprised if it was one of the rainiest ones on record.

And yes, as I write, what’s in the forecast for the next few days? You guessed it, more rain!

Despite too much rain, too many squirrels and ungrateful mice, this has been another good year. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions but I do like New Year’s wishes. My wish for you is a New Year filled with the joy and beauty of nature at every turn.

One of eight resident grey squirrels trying to wipe out our feeders.
One of eight resident grey squirrels trying to wipe out our feeders. (Cori Brown photo)