Snowy but Cold

fullsizeoutput_869cThis morning I was eager to check the outside temperature. Yesterday was cold. And windy. The high for the day at our house was 0 degrees. With the wind it felt much colder. Once it got dark the temperature dropped further. So I wanted to know just how cold it had gotten. Right before sunrise, typically the coldest part of the day, our thermometer read -20. Haven’t seen that in a while.

Walking to the mailbox yesterday was a frigid experience. I was mostly warm enough but the small parts of my face that were exposed got nibbled by the icy wind. I wore glasses, which I don’t usually wear in such cold temperatures, but it was just a walk to the mailbox, a tenth of a mile. The wind made my eyes tear. The tears froze. The tears fogged my glasses. The fog on my glasses froze. It was a bit of a visual shutdown. My wife, who had made that long trek with me, chuckled at me, shouting “systems failing!” Funny woman, she.

The squirrels this morning, at one point four of them chasing each other to get the prime seat on the hanging bird feeder, were covered in frost. They looked like little snowballs. That frost started to melt once the sun rose, but they kept eating. Sunrise brought birds back as well–Tree Sparrows and Juncos and Blue Jays and Chickadees and more all gathered around the feeders. Breakfast party.

I had planned to ski around our field yesterday. It snowed lightly all day, adding to the snow we already had. But after that walk to the mailbox I said forget it. It was bitter. The temperature should rise more today. Now, not quite 9:00 in the morning, we are still waiting to hit 0, but it is Sunday. I’ve got some hours yet.

In the meantime I will pay some monthly bills, read a book, join the breakfast party from the other side of the window. I made muffins yesterday and we should probably finish those off today. I need to do my part. Once the sun does some work I will think about enjoying this fine sunny day out in the cold. With contact lenses. Keep those systems from failing, if you know what I’m saying.

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Natural Hierarchy

We have lots of tree sparrows at our house. They come for the food. Under the feeder this morning we had a few pecking away at seeds that had fallen to the snow.

American tree sparrows

American tree sparrows

But then some bigger birds came along and shooed the sparrows away. Whatever. The sparrows will be back. But hey, cardinals! A pair of them! Sweet!

Male and female cardinal

Male and female cardinal

Then the mammals came out. A gray squirrel came along and scared off the cardinals. Too bad. But hey, squirrels are cute.

Gray squirrel takes over the seed zone

Gray squirrel takes over the seed zone

The squirrel, however, decided to leave. The new kid came along and, even though it was not interested in seeds from the feeder, intimidated the little furry-tailed guy a bit too much.

Coyote hunting for mice (or squirrels)

Coyote hunting for mice (or squirrels)

I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

 

Critters in the Garage

 

Phoebe Chick

Phoebe Chick

A little too long ago our garage door busted.  One of the cables snapped so only one side gets pulled when it operates.  I say “a little too long ago” because we still haven’t fixed it.  We just leave it up or down for a while.  Often the car isn’t in the bay.  I also say “a little too long ago” since the door busted because it froze to the floor.  We haven’t had ice in a while.

But whatevs.  This is about critters.  The ones in the garage.  The reason they get in is because the door is open.  A squirrel managed to find a home in there.  I don’t know it is actually living in the garage, but it sure likes hanging out in there.  It has recently discovered how wonderful the garbage bags are.  “Get a load of these things,” I imagine it pondered. “They are filled with plastic packaging, some of which has slight amounts of food residue stuck to it;  I think I’ll gnaw large holes in the bag so I can lick the salsa jar lid.”  Our food waste goes into the compost so there isn’t much for a squirrel to snack upon.  But that doesn’t stop it.

Yesterday I started moving our wood from one wall to another.  This seems to bother the squirrel.  Hey, squirrel, chill.  This isn’t your wood.  Clean up the mess you made with the garbage and maybe I’ll let you hang around.  Until then, you can find a tree.  And by the way, stop licking the grill.  Just because I’m lazy doesn’t give you license to lick that either.  I think that once I move the wood, the squirrel will just move into that pile.  We need to get that door fixed.

Once spring began we also had a phoebe family move in.  It made a nest in the rafters.  This meant we had to leave the door open so it could get out.  And in.  Then it had some chicks.  The other day, the chicks fledged.  One of the chicks was hanging out on the garage floor.  It left the nest but hadn’t quite figured out how to fly yet.  It was there for a while.  After dark it was gone.  I hope it didn’t get snacked upon by some noctural predator.  Especially after leaving the door open that whole time.  It was cute, that baby bird.  I guess that made up for its parents crapping all over the cars and the lawnmower and firewood.  And the garbage bags.

The phoebes have left, now that the chicks are off to better things.  Now they hang out in the birch tree outside my son’s window, keeping him up late and waking him up early.  At least they are out of the garage.  Now I just need to convince the squirrel to take a hike.  Once I stop being lazy, and decide that paying for someone to fix the door is a priority, it will be easier to keep out the critters.  I guess I’ll have to live with the squirrel until then.  At least it isn’t in the house.  With my record of door fixing procrastination, let’s hope the front door stays intact.