Saturday, May 26, 2012

Behold the Sqirrelinator

ADVISORY: If you are one of those people who think that no creature should ever be killed, including flies, mosquitos, fleas, gophers, and other vile critters mentioned in stories of plagues and pestilence, please stop reading this now.  And remember, "Judge not, lest ye be judged".  That is all.

We have ground squirrels in our chicken coop.  This is bad, horribly bad.  It's an amazing set-up if you're a ground squirrel: being inside the coop keeps you and your family (of millions, it would seem) safe from the dog and the cats, safe from the poison pellets I would otherwise cram down your hole but don't since I don't want to hurt my hens, and gives you unlimited access to fantastic table scraps, lay pellets, and two delicious fresh eggs every day. That's right, the little buggars have been stealing our eggs.  I put two plastic Easter eggs in the nesting boxes and they both disappeared, one at a time.  One later reappeared with a hole chewed in one end.  What a disappointment that must have been!

Tuesday was the last straw. I was out in the yard early planting the garden before it got too hot.  I have taken to checking for eggs about every 20-30 minutes from 9 a.m. on when I am at home, trying to gather them before 'the devil critter' can steal them.  On this day, I finished planting and gave a final check (no eggs yet, but a hen was just getting into her box), then put away the tools. In the 15 minutes it took me to put away the tools, those blasted squirrels took 2 eggs, ate the insides out, and left the broken shells by their hole for me to find.  I thought I could hear them snickering at me.  Maddening!  I went inside the house with tears in my eyes because of my frustration. 

About 30 minutes later, Jamey came through the back door saying the following words that brought joy and hope to my soul: "Hey, want to light a Roman candle and shove it into that hole and see if they come out so we can shoot 'em?"  That's why I love him.  Alas, the candle did nothing.  So, after a visit to Grace's place of employment, the Santa Margarita Feed Store, we invested in The Squirrelinator, a trap with two doors that comes in a box complete with a photo of a squirrel in the crosshairs and a redneck guy who has apparently is the world record holder in stuffing a trap with squirrels. We set it up in the coop, just under the nesting boxes.   I have personally heard from families who have caught up to four at once. We were just happy this morning when we heard Max-the-dog's "critter bark" and found our first squirrel in the trap.  First, I hope, of many.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


While spring is usually a time of beginnings, for our family this year it is a time when many things are ending.
Things at Cal Poly are heading to a wrap-up.  Once again we celebrate our graduating seniors and second-year interns who are moving on.  It's hard to imagine SLO without some of them!    
Freshman high school baseball ended with a close game, Jason beating out yet another throw to first, a tri tip barbecue and a banquet, and one last picture of mom and son in his uniform.  When I looked at this picture I noticed something odd - Jason is so much taller than me now.  At the start of soccer season, just 7 months ago, he was just shorter than me.  This explains why he has been so hungry!  And why he started the school year in size 8-and-a-half vans and is ending them in size tens.
Grace is experiencing a bigger ending - the end of high school.  Graduation is in a few short weeks.  I have never really worried about Grace doing anything well - she is weirdly good at just about everything she tries. Recently she learned to sew and made me 5 pillows that look like they came from a designer home store.  So it has been no surprise to me that about once a week we have gotten a nice letter from the high school inviting us to some kind of event to celebrate great students, meaning Grace.  This week we will be going to the 'Top 30' Reception.  Next week, scholarship night.  I will try not to gloat too much, but it is really difficult when you know that your child is the best of the bunch.  It's strange for Jamey and I to feel so conflicted - proud, joyful, and excited for Grace's accomplishments and future, and yet sad and a teeny bit scared that she will be heading off into the world (ok, I know that 'the world' is Cal Poly SLO, a mere 8 miles from our door, and a place we go just about every day, but's symbolic).

 After all of the 'end-of-the-year' events are finished, I am really really looking forward to a little down time with these amazing kids, just enjoying their company.  And trying not to get too nostalgic and sentimental.