Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Meet my squirrel. It’s a little mangey.

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This little guy or girl comes by my backyard every day and raids my two bird feeders, sometimes with the help of another squirrel.

Because it has sarcoptic mange, I’ve been concerned about its winter survival. You can treat mange with ivermectin, selamectin, or any of the class of avermectin insecticides that kill mites and other topical parasites that cause itching in pets and livestock. Left without treatment, the animal will suffer fur loss and diminished immunity, not to mention being driven mad with the itching. It will also lose out on some time better spent food gathering and stashing. Finally, there’s an increased risk of transmitting it to other animals and species. I certainly don’t want this, but I’m not sure if the mites that affect squirrels also affect birds.

It’s possibly illegal for me to have done this, but as my dog, Daisy, died and couldn’t take her HartGard pills with her on her journey, I took one of the pills, shaved off a slice, and slathered it in peanut butter. I put one out on the patio about a month ago, hoping the right squirrel would take it. Then, I started occasionally feeding it a tidbit or two to get it used to me, so I’d be able to treat it more directly. The mange cleared up, but in the past week, it has come back (probably the eggs in the nest have hatched and new juvenile and adult mites have latched on). So I followed up with a second treatment. He (or she) has stopped running away when I open the patio door, because it knows something edible is going to come flying out and land somewhere in the garden. Sure enough, it made a beeline for it today!

Buddy!

This was Buddy, the black girl squirrel

I had friends in the suburbs who used to feed a black squirrel. They named it Buddy, and it would come right up to them every day. Then Buddy disappeared – for a little while. It turned out Buddy was a new mom, and she brought her babies around to visit.

While the squirrels I’ve befriended (that is, provided drugs, nuts, water, and a house for) have been bold about coming around to me, usually they aren’t so bold with their babies. But over the years, sporadic friendliness (sporadic for their own good) means there’s a shared moment of mutual recognition when we meet each other in the garden, or on either side of the patio door.

A short video prior to a garden session

When I got home from the nursery for the Rewilding garden session, I took this video for you to enjoy:

 

The results of the Rewilding garden session

I got up early on Saturday morning to make it up to Pepinière Jasmin, where I can always find some native/indigenous plants, even at the end of the planting season. One of the native plant suppliers was Aiglon Indigo.

I got the following plants for the garden and the walls of my house: Continue reading

Rewilding Events – upcoming this weekend

Hey everyone! I decided that now is the time for us to get together and do a fall-oriented gardening session to prepare the garden for next year, and plant native species!

Six weeks before the frost sets in (traditionally, people consider Canadian Thanksgiving the first-frost date, but it comes later), gardeners can get an early start on the next year’s garden and crops. This time of year is perfect for doing transplants, as roots are not as subject to water and heat stress, and have a chance to establish themselves before the coming winter .

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Butterflies to see and links to share for Pollinator Week

It’s said that birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammal pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of our food. Pollinating flowers is a serious job. And thus, the Pollinator Partnership organization created an event called Pollinator Week, every year around the third week of June – this year, it’s June 19-25. I blogged about it a few years ago, with a bonus DIY Mason Bee house project.  So, to inspire people to do something to appreciate or even help our pollinators, I found a few links to share. Nature herself also motivated me: the cover photo for this post came from my recent trip to the Adirondacks, where I found a bunch of Eastern Swallowtail butterflies mud-puddling on the beach.

If pollinators had dating profiles, these would be those. This is an article by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, on my favourite publishing platform, Medium. It’s cute and clever and I learned a few species.

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