A Little Holiday Contest!

Life has been a bit nutty around here lately with our new baby. I suppose I need to clarify that she’s a human baby, not a baby squirrel! Little S (and no, her name is not Squirrelly) was born on the very cool date of 9/10/11. We (all of her family) adore her. Even the degus have taken interest in her. So far, no squirrels have noticed her but she’s a bit young for them to have any interest (after all, she can’t really feed them right now!).

While I’d love to buy this for her I think she’s outgrown it already:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/86302424/newborn-baby-squirrel-hat-and-cape-photo?ref=sr_gallery_23&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=squirrelly+baby&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

In the meantime, my other baby is reaching its due date. My book proposal for Squirrelly: A Love Story for Nuts is wrapping up and I hope to send it to a prospective agent by early January. I’m working hard on the marketing for the book already. This month I am running a little contest to increase links for the book’s Facebook page. If you “like” the page, you’ll be entered to win one of two yummy prizes..chocolate hazelnut butter cups!

Vegan Hazelnut Butter Cups

Vegan Hazelnut Butter Cups


Anza-Borrego State Park

Before I even boarded the plane from Boston to San Diego, my sister was already busy planning some day trips for us. She knows that I love hiking and nature. Normally, San Diego is on the arid side but this spring has been an unusually wet one (at least for this region!). As a result, this was the “greenest” of all my visits to San Diego. Fields of wildflowers were blooming everywhere. To someone like me who is coming from a fairly green and damp climate, seeing fields of wildflowers is nothing new but I could certainly appreciate that this is not the case in San Diego. When my sister mentioned that the desert flowers should be blooming about this time, I jumped at the chance to go out to the desert to see them. I later learned that some desert plants will wait up to ten years before blooming, waiting for the right spring, a rainy one, to bloom. I was thrilled that my visit coincided with this.

So last Sunday, we drove about two hours from San Diego to Anza-Borrego state park. The drive there was interesting..lots of different kinds of landscapes to look at..from farm land to arid landscapes to finally the desert. First we headed to the visitor center.

The Anza-Borrego visitor center

The Anza-Borrego visitor center

Even before we entered the visitor center, an impressive stone building that gave the impression of being built for that environment, we encountered this guy. What on earth was he doing? And a better question, what is he?!

A road runner

A road runner

My sister told me that this guy is a road runner, yes, the nemesis of Wiley Coyotes everywhere! He was taking a dirt bath in the sand. Cool.

Closeup of the road runner

Closeup of the road runner

Thrilled that I had already had my first wildlife encounter, we stepped into the visitor center. The rangers were very helpful and when I asked about where we could see the borrego (the Spanish word in these parts for “sheep”), they told me that they are not seen often but if we wanted to see them, to start with a trail off of Palm Canyon Drive.

Desert warning

Desert warning

I take trail warnings very seriously probably to the annoyance of those around me but I was more than happy to carry probably more water than we could need. It is the desert after all!

Palm Canyon Trail

Palm Canyon Trail

We found the trail with no problem. The heat was about 95 degrees fahrenheit and we had already missed the high point of the sun since it was about 3:30pm. If hiking in the desert again, I would probably start a little later, maybe around 4pm depending on the time of year. The heat was intense but it felt great on my winter white skin (which was whiter than normal from all the spf lotion I slathered on).

Desert landscape

Desert landscape

The landscape wasn’t what I thought it would be. I think I was thinking of the Sahara, forgetting that there are many different kinds of deserts. From the park’s web site:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. Five-hundred miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert. The park is named after Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish name borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunner, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake.

I wasn’t so keen on encountering a rattlesnake but the rangers had assured me that they are more afraid of people than we are of them. I didn’t mention my irrational fear of snakes which makes me lose my mind if I see one but I’ll take their word for it!

Nic and Clarissa on the trail

Nic and Clarissa on the trail

We started on the trail. Then someone got sunscreen in their eyes and someone else (me) realized that they forgot to put on their hiking boots and was still wearing street shoes. Back to the car. So after a false start, we were finally off. The sun and heat were intense but my new vegan t-shirt with UV protection and my dorky safari hat really made a difference! Clarissa, however, wasn’t feeling great in the heat. After just a short time on the trail, we stopped and Nicole and I expressed concern that Clarissa’s face was a bright shade of red. She drank some water and while we rested I happened to look up at a little rise right above us. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We had been warned that most people do not get to see the borrego. Yet, here were nine to ten of them right in front of me. “Guys!!! Look behind you!!” I said. They both turned and they too were speechless.

The lone adult male checks us out

The lone adult male checks us out

The group circled us in a half moon shape, always on higher ground than we were upon the rise.

They half-circled around us

They half-circled around us

They stopped for a while and seemed to be contemplating us. We could see a couple of babies, one adult male, and the rest appeared to be female.

Looking into the distance

Looking into the distance

This, I think, is my winning shot. I had to work fast but I caught her looking at me as I snapped many pictures of her. She graciously allowed me to do this!

Looking at me?

Looking at me?

And then suddenly, as if we missed some signal that was clear to them, they ran off, beyond the rise, well out of our view. I searched for them with my eyes across the landscape but I couldn’t find them which stumped me! It was almost like seeing a ghost, or what I imagine it would be liking seeing one as I haven’t myself–they seemingly appeared and disappeared without a trace. I was beyond joy..so happy! As much as I loved all the things that we did on our trip, these five minutes with the borrego were the absolute best moments for me.

I think this is Ocotillo..a tall, spindly desert plant

I think this is Ocotillo..a tall, spindly desert plant

All three of us individually claimed credit for the borrego sighting. Clarissa exclaimed in her dramatic Italian accent that the borrego had appeared to save her from dying of heat stroke in the desert. Nicole, being an Aries, claimed that the borrego, rams, appeared because of her. I claimed it was a symbol intended for me to get off my butt and finish my squirrel book. We never did come to a compromise on this but maybe it’s just nicer that way?! After our shock wore off, we remembered that Clarissa was showing signs of overheating so we decided to call it a day and head back to the car. I wasn’t even disappointed that we didn’t make it to the dessert oasis at the end of the trail. Seeing the borrego was all I needed. The hike back was a little slower and gave me some time to enjoy the landscape a little.

Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cactus

I saw some funny little lizards run across the trail, way too fast for me and my camera. We saw the cutest little rodents too..no idea what they were. Made me miss my own fuzzies back home a little more.

I think this is Cholla..a kind of cactus

I think this is Cholla..a kind of cactus

The trip to Anza-Borrego was amazing. I hope to go back next year and until then, I hope the awe of seeing the borrego stays with me for a very long time!


1 Year Degu-versary and Poor Little “Stubbie”

March really kicks my butt. Taxes for both the business and personal. Maniac up and down weather. First signs of spring. Suddenly able to finally make walking part of our daily transportation again (yay!). I feel like I’m on a roller coaster the entire month! Thank goodness it’s over and back to more regular blogging.

Squirrelly: don't take my picture!

Squirrelly: don't take my picture!

Squirrelly and her daughter are frequent visitors to our front yard. Squirrelly is looking a little disheveled this time of year. She just gave birth to another litter which always can take a toll on the daily beauty rituals (yes, squirrels really do have them too!). The seasonal change of fur has also begun. In the spring, squirrels shed their fur from head to tail, losing the heavy duty winter insulation to be replaced with a lighter fur to keep them cooler in the warmer months. So my poor girl’s fur is patchy looking and she looks a little thin from all the nursing that she is doing right now. We try to stop by daily with some nut snacks to help her keep her strength up and give her a little break from nursing. She seems to really appreciate it!

Squirrelly..having a bad fur day

Squirrelly..having a bad fur day

The degus and I celebrated our “degu-versary” on March 30th..one year since I adopted the original fuzzies. A year can really fly by! Babies at the time, Keebler, Trolli and Cubbie are now completely full grown. I spent the day/week pulling out photos of them when they were young and telling them “Oh you were such cute little babies! Remember that day at the shelter when we first met?” They looked at me puzzled, “why are you talking mom when you could be giving us dried prunes!” Since Degus are sensitive to sugar, I have to be careful how much fructose they get..after doing a lot of research I’ve found that a little is okay especially since I feed them a 90% raw diet (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried chick peas, oatmeal, barley, parsley, fruit tree branches, and dried corn and peas..plus whatever else I might have in the kitchen). I tried them out originally on dried unsweetened cranberries and they loved it! Finding dried unsweetened cranberries is a bit tough..the sweetened ones are much easier to find so often I run out and must make a special trip to Whole Foods to find them. Several times I’ve been completely out of cranberries so we then tried goji berries with mixed success, dried blueberries (again unsweetened and a big hit), then one day I was out of everything dried and tried raisins. Which was a big mistake because they LOVED them. Now Wiley turns his nose up at the cranberries or whatever else I offer and looks at me as if to say “but no joking mom..where are the raisins??!” I am worried that raisins are too sweet for them so I decided to give dried prunes a try. I had a container up in the cupboard that I had bought a while ago and wasn’t really that into using. I chopped one of the prunes up into bite sized pieces and offered a little to each goo..they loved it! I’d swear that they think they are eating chocolate.

Goos eating some plum tree spring blossoms

Goos eating some plum tree spring blossoms

Finally, I had a horrible shock yesterday morning. First thing I do when I get up is to go to the Goo house and say good morning to all the boys. If I don’t do this, they start meeping and beeping to warn us that there is an intruder in the house. If I stop by and say hi to them, they realize that it’s just me, not an intruder. Well yesterday I stopped by and to my horror saw part of a goo tail but with no goo attached. I wouldn’t consider myself the panicky type however, this time I freaked out. Trolli and Keebler came bounding out to see me and they looked fine. There were blood marks all over the food dish. Finally Cubbie came out and I will not tell you what I saw but it was horrible. I jump on the internet to pull up the vet’s contact information and called immediately. They told me to come as soon as possible as the tail was still bleeding. I loaded Cubbie into the travel carrier and decided to bring along his brothers, hoping that they would keep him calm. The vet is a good 25 minutes away which, since I live in the city, some people might consider strange. Don’t we have vets here? Yup, we do have a ton but only the big animal hospital on the other side of town has experience with degus. The animal hospital is where I adopted the original three boys and I would have loved to have given them my business. However, they are very expensive and the reality is that driving cross-town takes as much time as driving to the vet in the ‘burbs (minus the horrible Boston driving). So off we went.

Once we arrived at the vet, my heart sank when we entered the building. An enormous dog, up to my chest, was waiting at the counter with his human companion. The dog was making a lot of noises and the goos, who freak at the sight of a small lap dog, were inconsolable. Finally the dog and his companion left and we were promptly checked in and whisked into an examination room. The goos began to relax just a little. They do not like going to the vet..they have made this quite clear so they were not happy. The doctor came in right away. I feel very lucky to have found this vet. He tries so hard not to upset the little guys and was even able to show me a trick (which I guess works with cats too) to catch the goos by the nape of the neck and it immobilizes them and keeps them still. He looked at Cubbie’s tail and told me the bad news which I had already guess: partial amputation and immediate surgery.

They could do the surgery that morning, the vet said, after the regular pre-scheduled surgeries. I could leave Cubbie and pick him up that afternoon. It had to be done immediately so I watched as they took Cubbie, along with Keebler and Trolli to keep him company, away to have surgery. I should go home they said. There was nothing for me to do there and they would call me when Cubbie was ready to go home. I felt awful. I went to my car and started to cry. I had talked to the vet about the anesthesia as this is one of the biggest dangers for small animals with surgery. Many actually die from the anesthesia not the operation. However, I had three previous vet visits to decide whether I trusted this vet and I found that I really did. Cubbie will be okay, I kept telling myself.

Cubbie with his "Stubbie"

Cubbie with his "Stubbie"

After what seemed a very very long few hours, I received a call that Cubbie was recovering and doing well and he was ready for me to pick up. We went there as fast as we could. When they brought the boys out, they were hiding under the towel that I put in their carrier, very upset. I finally coaxed Trolli out and Keebler peeked his face out once or twice. Cubbie was groggy and very out of it. Once we got home, Trolli and Keebler came out of the carrier and went into their house but Cubbie was too upset to let me touch him. I was finally able to lift him into a towel and gently put him into his house.  He wouldn’t look at me for hours! Keebler spent most of the afternoon grooming him and nuzzling him which was very sweet to watch. Trolli would join in. In the evening, Cubbie was finally feeling more like himself and came out to get a snack. I could finally get a good look at his tail. He’s got about half left and it’s covered in a rodent sized ace bandage for now which gives him the appearance of having a beaverish looking tail. He’ll be on pain meds and antibiotics for several days. And I’m on probation for a bit longer until he feels that he can trust me again.I won’t take it personally but I certainly can’t wait until he’s back to his fuzzy self again, jumping on my shoulder and nuzzling the side of my face!


Squirrel Tracks!

I stopped by my car the other day and saw some evidence of fuzziness behind it. Squirrel tracks! I took some pictures of these tracks because they show exactly how squirrels move in the snow. A few steps to move small distances, then big hops to get anywhere quick.

Hum..obviously a hopper!

No other car had tracks behind/around it. My guess is that he was probably looking for us..since they seem to know that this is our car..probably from the dropped almonds near it (we keep a bag in the car).

Beast big or small?

Our friend took a few steps here..

If squirrels do yoga, this is undoubtedly the "Squirrel Pose"

If squirrels do yoga, this is undoubtedly the "Squirrel Pose"

A moment of indecision?

A moment of indecision?

And who can forget about Show-Off Squirrel?!

And who can forget about Show-Off Squirrel?!


All About Moon Bears

This post is for my sister, Michelle, a lover of bears of all kinds. Michelle has been a long fan of the Gund Snuffles bear and when she was a very small child, she owned one of the very first Snuffles bears, a small brown one. We called him “Snuffy” or “Snuff.” Snuff traveled all over the world with Michelle first from our hometown to college and then to New York city and then all over Africa and Europe. They were the best of friends. The Snuffles bear was designed to resemble a half moon shape and this happy little bear certainly does! I won’t go into the sad story of their eventual separation..all I can tell you is that Snuff is undoubtedly making a small child in Africa very happy right now. Michelle, however, was devasted to be separated from her lifelong friend. She told me the story while she was still traveling and instructed me to help locate another Snuffles. So I found her Snuffles and his co-conspirator, Pinkie. They have all been inseperable ever since and have even been joined by three mini white Snuffles courtesy of our mom. Michelle is snuffled to the max now. Like totally!

Michelle recently visited India and encountered an animal, a bear that she had never heard of before: the moon bear. She couldn’t believe it when she saw it..she had just caught a glimpse of a real life Snuffles! Haven’t heard of moon bears? Me either and since Michelle’s camera battery died just before the moon bear sighting, she didn’t have any pictures to show me. So I did a little research..

They are closely related to the America Black Bear more so than any other kind of bear. They are mainly herbivous. They have a “v” or “cresent moon” white fur “bib” on their tummies. And unfortunately they are often the victim of much cruelty by the hands of, you guessed it, humans who farm the bears for their bile or keep them as performing animals in circuses.

I won’t go into the abuses that these amazing animals suffer..just know that it’s bad, very bad. If you want to find out more about moon bears, check out the following web sites:

Here are some “facts” about Moon Bears courtesy of Animals Asia:

  • The moon bear is also known as the Himalayan black bear, Tibetan black bear, collared bear, Formosan black bear and horse bear.
  • Every moon bear’s chest markings are different in colour and shape, ranging from pale yellow to deep orange-gold, from deep Vs to delicate crescents. Some are even speckled!
  • Moon bears love water and like nothing more than swimming and splashing around!
  • Moon bears, along with Malayan sun bears, are the only bears known to construct feeding platforms in trees.
  • It’s no myth – bears really do love honey and are believed to be able to smell it from up to 5 kilometres away!
  • Moon bears are believed by scientist Daniel Taylor-Ide to be the original yeti!

Personality

At the risk of inviting criticism for being anthropomorphic (i.e. believing that animals share human qualities and emotions), the Animals Asia team unashamedly states that bears do indeed have emotions similar to ours.

Twenty years of cage confinement see the farmed bears arriving at our sanctuary violently angry. They are frustrated, frightened, miserable and confused. Even under these circumstances, they often show a cautious trust in response to kind treatment and tempting food. Slowly, their individual “personalities” emerge and they become mischievous, fun-loving and happy. They are resourceful and determined in play and foraging, comfortable and lazy in their beds (and reluctant to leave them!), they are as predictable and unpredictable as any human being and our lives have been enriched and educated by being part of theirs.

I have to confess that when I hear someone use the word “anthropomorphic” in regards to being careful not to attribute “human” emotions and experiences to animals, it irks me. From my experience with squirrels, dogs, degus and a variety of other domesticated and wild animals, it is completely clear to me that there is a common vocabulary of emotions, feelings and expressions that we humans share with many animals (not to mention that we often forget that we are animals ourselves!). Since our nervous systems and brains developed from the same common ancestors (not so far back in time for primates and rodents and a little further back for dogs and cats), there is no doubt to me that these animals feel more than we can even imagine and that their experiences may be much closer to our own than probably many people are comfortable acknowledging.

Do you want to help the moon bear? Sign this petition urging the Chinese government to end bear farming for bile production. Or adopt a moon bear through Animals Asia!

In the meantime, I found Goldilocks (aka Brownie) sleeping my bed just a few minutes ago:

He was supposed to be running around getting some exercise but instead decided to climb up on my bed and take a nap! He woke up when I got close with the camera but didn’t budge from his nap zone!


Cambridge 9-1-1 Squirrel Rescue Unit

(Note this is a repeat post as I transfer content from my old blog at gemusings.blogspot.com to fuzziesandfriends.wordpress.com..the original post was from July of 2009 and as far as I know the squirrel in question lived happily ever after and didn’t repeat this experience!)

7pm last night, the call came in, “Squirrel rescue unit needed to respond to an emergency. Squirrel jumped through apartment screen, stuck in window.”

H and I were the closest unit to respond so we grabbed our gear, got into our grey jumpsuits, slid down the pole to our waiting squirrel rescue mobile…

*Okay* so that’s the TV dramatization of last night’s events..we don’t actually have grey jumpsuits, we live on the first floor hence no pole (adding to list next time we move), and our grey Prius doesn’t really qualify as an animal rescue mobile (and we didn’t really need it last night). But wow, it felt like Reno 9-1-1 here last night (okay, I just watched one episode, please don’t judge me for it!). Here’s how it went down: 7pm, Amanda is browsing the web, specifically looking at Mihl’s awesome Rote Grütze recipe and wondering if she can make it with red grapes. H is doing some Java programming thingey on his computer. Neighbor runs down the stairs of our building and starts buzzing our buzzer and pounding our door.

I open the door to see the neighbor whose kitchen is above ours, frantic. “A squirrel jumped through my office window screen and he’s been running around my apartment and finally I trapped him in my laundry closet!” “Okay, ma’am, stay calm, we’ll be right there,” I said. *Okay* it was really something like, “NO! Really? No! Wow! OMG! Wow.” Far less cool sounding than the TV version. I told her to give me a minute and I’d get H and some of our “gear.” Gear included peanuts, the Goo carrier, and two pairs of really thick rubber gloves that my mom gave me five years ago when Squirrelly hit her teens and took to biting for a short spell (thank god she grew out of that!) to relieve her teenage angst.

We went upstairs and H went into the laundry closet to see if he could get the window open so the squirrel could jump out. R, our neighbor, vacated to let us do what we needed to do. Unfortunately, opening the window caused the poor squirrel to wedge himself up into the glass between the storm window and the regular window. We stared at him in dismay. “Oh no,” H said, “he’s really freaked out.” I looked and I think even people who aren’t so intimate with squirrels could tell by the poor guy’s face that he was beyond panic. Suddenly the squirrel sort of flopped over, still stuck in the glass and his eyes half closed. We were almost convinced that he had just died. This unfortunately happens sometimes with small animals, especially bunnies. They can literally die of fright, most likely from a heart attack. We freaked and started trying to get the window apart when the squirrel started breathing again. In hindsight, I think what may have happened is that he panicked, was in an enclosed and hot place and that possibly made him pass out. Not sure but we think this is a good theory. Whatever happened, I can tell you that it was a darn good sight seeing the poor little fuzzball open his eyes completely.

The poor guy, wedging himself between the storm window and the unmovable inside window. That could not have been comfortable…

We blocked the opening to the laundry room with cardboard hoping that he’d jump out the window. According the a book I have from the Humane Society on how to handle such situations with wildlife, squirrels can easily jump from a two story structure to the ground without hurting themselves. He eventually unwedged himself from the window and sat on the window sill for two hours.

The Humane Society book, “Wild Neighbors,” suggested just what we were doing as a first plan..leaving the window open. I have found in my five years experience with squirrels and now, Goos, is that it is simply no good to try to force them to do anything. The animal gets upset and panicked and you risk the chance of a bite and scratches. Better to let them come down on their own time. So we waited…

It was easy to go outside to see the progress. Twice the squirrel came down and rested on the bottom window sill. Twice he went back up into the glass area.

We could tell that he was really upset about having to jump down two stories but this puzzled us since how did he get up there in the first place since there are no trees right next to the building.

The bottom window is our bathroom window. The window right above it is from our neighbor’s laundry closet..you can see a little fuzzy face on the left side of the window if you look closely. This is the leap the poor guy had to contemplate…

Meanwhile, we were pushing 8pm..by 8:30pm it would be twilight, that magical hour when squirrels drop whatever they are doing and go to bed. In our long experience with Squirrelly (she’s going to be 5 year old next month! Big party!), we have seen that when the light hits a certain level, squirrels instinctively know it’s nest time. We wonder if this is because owls and other natural nocturnal squirrel predators may start awakening at this hour..not sure but we knew this was not a good time for our squirrel to not be in his nest.

We decided to go inside to leave the squirrel by himself lest our presence was delaying his exit. Our kitchen window is right next to our bathroom window so I worked on my Rote Grütze, chopping the cherries, strawberries and red grapes while I listened. A couple of times we heard some thumps and rushing to the window and then outside hoping to see the squirrel running across the grass. But instead, he was still in the window. We were getting really worried. We had no ladder either. We needed a plan B. We decided to take the cardboard out of the window which was easy because the squirrel was on the second attempt to wedge himself in the glass part of the window. We spoke to him softly. There is something to speaking softly to animals as you probably know. When they are panicked, a quiet reassuring voice can help calm them. I’ve seen it work with Squirrelly and also with the Goos. I suppose it makes sense because a predator wouldn’t do that so maybe they know that intuitively.

However, I was dreading Plan B which seemed to be our only option and also the second option recommended by the Humane Society. Catch the squirrel in a blanket. I haven’t done this with a squirrel. I have had to do this with my Goos when they start fighting with each other. It is very effective and safe for you/me. However, the effect upon a very pissed off companion animal who just bit his brother on the face (my Goos) is very different than that upon on a panicked animal who is stuck in a scary place. I didn’t want to freak the poor guy out but I knew the blanket would. But it also was the only other idea that we had. So we took the cardboard out of the window so the squirrel could get into the laundry room. And then we waited. For a long time.

We were starting to fret that what if the squirrel didn’t come down, what would we do? We had no idea. Then suddenly, thump, thump, and a scratching noise. Luckily my neighbor’s laundry room door was one of those vented style doors where you can see in at a certain angle. We heard a few crashes but didn’t see the squirrel on the floor. And then suddenly a big metal sounding noise and quiet. By now it was 9pm and it was completely dark outside. I cautiously opened the door expecting the squirrel to be crouching in a corner or lunging towards the opening in the doorway. But nothing. On the window sill, the nuts we had placed to lure him down were gone and in its place, he had kindly left little squirrel poos and a whole lot of pee all over the window sill for my neighbor to clean up. He had finally jumped out the window! We don’t know if he finally got his nerve up or if just the darkness masked how high the leap was and maybe that made it easily. Whatever the reason, we knew that squirrel was heading straight to his nest, probably exhausted after his adventure. Hopefully, never to repeat it again.

So we packed up our gear (which we didn’t really use except for the nuts), slid down the pole (okay, climbed down the stairs to our apartment), and knew that we had to be ready for the next call. Because you never know when squirrels will get stuck. But we do know that the Cambridge 9-1-1 Squirrel Rescue Unit will be ready!

I want to get matching jackets with “CSRU 9-1-1” on them but I don’t think H will go for that. Oh pooh!! Needless to say, the Rote Grütze will have to wait for another post!


Our nuts are frozen! And Squirrelly’s mystery guest..

Whoopsie..that was a slightly naughty title! But if you’re a squirrel, you see nothing naughty about it! Cambridge has been bombarded with snow lately and now begins a very difficult time for my squirrel friends. They worked really hard over the fall to put together a stockpile of nuts and food to last the winter. They keep some in their nests but can only fit so much. The overflow goes into their subterranean storehouses in the ground. Certain kinds of snow make accessing these storehouses difficult. Normal snow isn’t so much of a problem..it’s when the ground is covered with a thick layer of ice that the squirrels can’t get into. Keeping this in mind, we try to stop by Squirrelly’s house often to make sure everybody is doing okay. So I stopped by recently and called her name. Since she was a little baby squirrel, snuggled in my shirt, she would respond to her name and in the days when she was transitioning to living outside on her own, I’d call for her and she’d come running to see me. People often ask me how I know it’s Squirrelly and not some other squirrel. It’s fairly easy to explain. Anybody who interacts with squirrels, even a little, can see that they are pretty independent agents..they come and go as they please and answer to no one. I could go right now and yell “Squirrelly” in a park anywhere and not a squirrel would appear! They have no idea what I am saying/who I am. Squirrelly has known her name for most of her life and known me for most of that time too. I could be half a block away and if she heard me and could come (sometimes she’s babysitting her grandkids or caring for her own and can’t slip away), she’d be there. So when I stopped by and called her name, she poked her head out of her nest immediately. I showed her that I had some almonds and cornchips for her (her favorite savory treats) and she came out and grabbed some. Then another full-grown squirrel came out. It’s hard to tell exactly what is going on there. Squirrelly has always been a bit of a loner from other squirrels. Obviously not romantically since she’s had several groups of kids but she’s always been a tough character with other squirrels, not taking any of their territorial nonsense. I suspect this is because when she was a baby that she was bullied by larger squirrels in the backyard and she had no mother to protect her (I would have if I could have!). She really learned to stand up for herself and soon became the overlord (overlady?) of the backyard. The other squirrels learned not to mess with her! I was secretly proud of her..she’s always been a trooper..surviving odds that most would not make. So back to this mystery squirrel–who is he/she?? Our squirrel paparazzi snapped a picture of the mystery visitor snacking on one of Squirrelly’s cornchips..behavior that she would tolerate from no one. Yet she was content to let him/her snack away! What gives??

Cornchips!

Cornchips!

Then the mysterious house guest licked ice from the tree branch (this is how squirrels get enough water in the winter)..again with Squirrelly’s approval!

Having a drink...

Having a drink...

M.G. (Mystery Guest) has a smaller, thinner tail which indicates a younger squirrel. So this squirrel could be Squirrelly’s daughter, snuggling up with mom for the winter? Squirrels normally don’t want roommates and Squirrelly certainly hasn’t in the past but they are known to temporarily bunk together when it’s cold to keep warm. Or is this possibly a romantic soulmate? Or did we witness a squirrel one-night stand? No idea..yet..but we will find out. Either way, I’m really happy that Squirrelly has other squirrels to snuggle up with! Speaking of snuggling, the Goos think snuggly is an important part of the day..and I think they may just be on to something!

A real live snuggie blanket

A real live snuggie blanket: Cubbie gets snuggled by his brothers


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