Saturday, December 09, 2006

Squirrel War

A couple weeks ago I was at my desk, in my office on the bottom floor of my home, when I witnessed a horrific incident.

My office is a large room on the basement level of our home- about 750 square feet- a nice sized space to work out of. There are two sets of doors leading out to the patio (see my post Rain In The Middle Of The Night about this formerly flood-prone space) with windows bottom to top. They offer a wonderful view of my backyard and the frequent wildlife wandering about. So far the list includes deer, rabbits, coyotes, pheasants, quail, snakes, moles, unnaturally large frogs, neighborly dogs, feral cats (otherwise known as coyote food), snakes, skunks, possums, turkey, hawks and countless other winged creatures.

I was working on a proposal for a client when I heard an otherworldly scream outside. I glanced up and saw a squirrel run along the four foot high retaining wall, and then stop and turn around. Another squirrel came into my field of view and squared off with the first squirrel. A squirrel war commenced. The second squirrel attacked (lets call him #2), and again I heard the scream. I have never heard a squirrel scream. Squirrel #2 was the better warrior and #1 was only defending, not fighting back. I went to the door to break it off.

As I opened the door #1 shot off around the side of the house towards the front, with #2 chasing him. I walked along the patio in the opposite direction to get to the yard, and heard the screaming a couple more times. By the time I got around to the front of the house they were continuing their battle within a large shrub. I yelled, and one of the squirrels shot out towards the trees near by, disappearing in the brush. I walked up to the shrub and heard a heavy, wheezy breathing. Then a little squeak, and then nothing.

I put my hands into the thick shrub and opened it up, and there lay a dead squirrel, on his back with his little legs spread out, and front paws theatrically laid out with one across his chest, and the other above his little sideways turned head. His eyes were open, but he wasn’t breathing. I gently poked at him- no response. I tried to remove him, but the shrub got in the way, and he just sort of slid out of my hands.

I got a pitch fork (no- don’t worry- I didn’t do that), and carefully slid it into the shrub under his body, lifted him out, and placed him on the ground. I wasn’t sure how to dispose of #1 (I assume it was him- he was not up for the days battle and surely fell to #2’s attack), so decided to walk him, laid out sideways on the pitchfork again, to the other side of our property and throw him over the creek into high grass on the other side.

I have never used a trebuchet, but if you place weight on the business side of a pitchfork or shovel, and holding the weight far behind your back with your left hand coming down hard and quick on the handle and your right at your shoulder as the fulcrum, amazing speed and height can be achieved. As #1 went skyward and I watched him sail through the air on that cloudless crisp day, I couldn’t help but remember the scene from Monty Python’s film Holy Grail when the cow was catapulted at the castle. Sorry.

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DigitalRich said...

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