Wednesday, 28 September 2005

September 28, 2005 Squirrel Count

It’s been a bad week for squirrels around here. It started last Thursday. I was in the house cooking meals for my Quest drop bags when Mark showed up on the deck with a dead squirrel on a shovel. Seeing that ‘Squirrel Fricassee’ wasn’t on the menu, I asked exactly why he was bringing me a dead squirrel. “Gristle wanted you to see what she caught”. You have to understand, Gristle, our little black cat weighs maybe 5lbs, soaking wet, after eating a big meal – this squirrel weighed darn close to that. Absolutely, unbelievable that she managed to kill it – especially when you consider that TakeOut, her 20 lb best buddy got beat up by a squirrel a couple years ago. No kidding - I was sitting up in the one of the puppy pens and witnessed him catching one, after a brief tussle and rolling around, the squirrel headed up a tree and the cat headed for the garage to lick his damaged ego.


Anyway, I asked Mark if he had actually taken Gristle’s ‘prize’ from her and he said no, she dropped it after he screamed. I didn’t ask for an explanation of the reason for screaming – got to let my husband keep a little pride.

(Dead squirrel count – 1)

Slip forward to Monday. Mark was starting night shifts, but we were able to squeeze in a run in the morning before he went back to bed. When I caught up with him at one of our usual stopping spots, he told me I had just missed a cow and calf moose – they had trotted off the trail when Mark’s team rounded the corner – but something else had Mark all excited. He pointed to a gray ‘blob’ hanging from the barbwire fence next to us. For years Mark has been maintaining that we have Flying Squirrels in our area. Each time he insists he’s seen one, I question how much he has had to drink – I’ve never seen one – until now. The gray ‘blob’ turned out to be a flying squirrel – now, obviously this wasn’t a flying squirrel that was very good at flying – or he had bad eyesight and didn’t see the fence – whatever, it had at one time been an actual flying squirrel. Would have been cooler to see one actually flying, but at least now I can quit questioning Mark’s sobriety.

(Dead squirrel count – 2)

We continued off on our run. Each fall we drag our old horse-watering trough out onto the trail and use that to water the dogs when we are out on a run. We have a nice little ¾ mile stretch of rolling hills leading up to it that I usually let the team go as hard as they want on. As I rounded the corner to this section it was like holding back a team of horses, they were practically rearing to be let ‘go’. They just flew down that stretch and I was shocked when I got to the watering trough and found Mark’s team right on my heels. I hadn’t thought his team would keep up and was very pleasantly surprised to see them do so. Mark and I were joking and bantering back and forth with each other as we set the brakes and grabbed our watering jugs. I was barely paying attention when I leaned over to scoop out water and came face to face with a dead squirrel floating in the trough. Gross. Mark, being the ‘person in charge of dealing with dead things’ in our relationship, fished out the corpse and tossed it into the bush.

(Dead squirrel count – 3)

This morning I was off running on my own, as Mark is in the midst of his night shifts. It was real cold, so I figured I was going to have to break ice on the top of the water trough. I peered in to see how bad it was and there, dead and frozen in the ice was another squirrel. I poked at it a bit, but it was frozen solid in there – and besides, as I’ve mentioned before, dead things are not my responsibly. I was on my way back to the yard anyway - needed to drop Kara off. It was her first run back in harness since weaning her pups and I didn’t want to push her too hard. So I just opted to water the dogs there.

(Dead squirrel count – 4)

If I were a squirrel in this neighbourhood – I’d move – and quick.

When Mark got up I requested that he stop on his way to work and fish out the dead squirrel for me (the water trough is just off our driveway) – he just rolled his eyes. I’m not sure whether that means ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Well, I actually have a pretty good idea – but I can always hope – after all, dead things are Mark’s responsibility…well…except for in emergencies, like the other day when I had to wrestle a dead porcupine tail out of Vortec’s mouth – but that’s a whole other story!


©Penny Blankenship

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