by Chris Quaal Vinson
I love the woodland creatures around here. Really, I do. I love it that the big doe who frequents our back acreage brought two little spotted fawns to show us, but at a safe distance. I love hearing about bear sightings, even though I breathe a sigh of relief that we haven’t sighted one in our own yard. I love the birds that wake me up each morning at five and the hummingbirds that come to the feeders many times each day. The ants that found their way into the laundry room? Not so much. I’ve been reading up on natural ways to get rid of them, as HIS method of spray, stomp, and kill is only mildly successful. Did you know that spraying a mixture of peppermint essential oil, water, and vodka is supposed to deter ants? I didn’t either, but I happen to have all the ingedients on hand and might give it a whirl. Lately, I have developed an intense dislike for a squirrel. Not all squirrels, mind you, but a single little persistant red squirrel who manages to climb up the metal shephard’s hooks which hold our two hummingbird feeders. When we are not looking, he manages to suck them dry. When we are looking, no shouting or pounding on the window deters the bold little cuss. If they are empty, he chews off the feeder ports trying to get more. I searched the internet to find the answer. We have never had this problem before in all these years with any of his squirrel relatives. Many suggestions called for petrolium jelly smeared on the pole. Although I know there must be an ancient jar around here somewhere, I coudn’t find it, so I tried smearing it with coconut oil stirred together with a whole bunch of cayenne pepper. Five minutes later, he was sitting outside the window licking the stuff off his paws. Ten minutes later, he was up the pole again. I waited until my own hands stopped stinging before I cut a slit into a plastic lid and slid it on to the pole. The plastic lid lasted less than a day. I don’t know if it was the squirrel or the wind, but I gave up after finding it on the ground again and again. Next, I found a jar of menthol chest rub and rubbed it up and down the poles. That seemed to work, as I had no squirrel, but no hummingbirds, either. After two days, HE informed me that my little friend was back. The latest deterrent is HIS idea, which is a plastic cup that he threaded the pole through. So far, so good. I am not convinced that this will work for long, either. I have to confess that when I drove home last night I saw a roadkill red squirrel near the driveway and I actually laughed out loud, only to find my squirrel waiting under the feeders for a refill. We have a live trap, but just setting it out in the yard could catch any number of creatures, including skunks. My next option will be to try the peppermint/vodka ant spray and just squirt him when he gets anywhere near the feeder. I am tempted to just forget the peppermint oil, throw in the towel, and use the vodka to mix myself a drink. If you happen to be driving through rural northern Minnesota and see a Farm Woman sitting on her front porch with a liquor bottle at her feet and a shotgun at her shoulder aimed toward the hummingbird feeder, it just might be me. Don’t honk and wave, because at this point, I am getting a little squirrelly myself.