Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ste. Em and the Tree Rats

Here is how it is with the squirrels and me. Right now it stands about Squirrels 15, Ste. Em 0.

Last year I needed to come up with a couple Science projects. In Classical Education we don’t teach Science as a separate unit. Students learn Science through History and catechesis. “God created the world. Who created the world?” “God created the world.” This is First Article of the Creed business.

Most of our parents are raised with traditional education, so they sometimes don't “get it” with regard to Classical Education. No matter how often we tell them “history teaches science,” the Creed teaches Science, they get antsy and want to see Science Books and a separately taught subject called “Science.” However, conventional education teaches science backwards, not forwards. Too, at the Grammar stage is it not enough to confess the fact that God not only is the Originator of, but still provides us with all our daily needs? Science Books provide a nice “bridge” across this gap of understanding in what we are doing and accomplishing and the experience and expectations of the parents. So, every now and again we’d drag out the books, take a gander at the lovely pictures, read what applies- some of which was actually excellent for explaining how God makes things work- and then put them away. What I did do in the classroom is have the students open their eyes and look around themselves to observe what God has given.

The school sits in a heavily wooded area near a reservoir. I had a member of the church, Howie, erect a 4x4 pole and set up two squirrel-proof bird feeders. One is for thistle and has a cage around it so the varmints can’t get their beady heads inside. The other rolls them off and onto the ground, a Roller Feeder.

The assignment for the students was to watch birds. They recorded what they saw, the varieties when and where. It was quite a success. They were very good, and learned a lot.

They learned more about tree rats and their cunning ways. Easter weekend either they or ‘coons stole the Roller Feeder, dragged it to the creek, and ate the spilled contents. A torrential rain nearly buried it completely in sandy mud. I saw the green base, rescued and cleaned it. This time I chained that sucker to the pole.

That didn’t stop those thieves. They learned to climb up, shake the feeder until it spilled seed on the ground, then had a feast. Sometimes they’d try the thistle feeder. Early in the mornings I’ll know they’ve had a seed party by the way the feeders are hanging. If it’s a particularly rough crowd, there will be bits of fur lodged under the hanger and against the hook where a varmint has gotten himself wedged in. The Roller Feeder will most likely be empty, and the hanging loop in the thistle feeder will be bent in all sorts of shapes where they’ve tried to take it loose.

Finally Howie suggested I get myself some pvc to go around the pole. “They can’t climb up that stuff. Too slick.” Well, alright. So I did it.

The tree leapers found a new way to get to the top: They just swung to the top of the pole, missing the pvc entirely. I cut down the closest tree. Small thing, anyway. The feeders were still too close to a pine tree, so Howie moved the feeder.

Then the scum scuttlers dug right under the pvc, and scurried up the pole. I dropped river rock down alongside and inside the pvc. Those pests have now removed every stone, paw-by-paw, set each one to the side, and are scurrying up the pole just to shake the Roller Feeder. Howie’s next move is going to be to set a row of screws a few inches above the bottom of the pvc, thus making a sort of cage they can’t get past.

I don’t mind feeding squirrels, but in their proper place. Corn cobs in winter will do them just fine. Right now, though, climbing up on the birdfeeder pole to get at the woodpecker and cardinal food gets a bit expensive!


Genevieve said...

Hey Em - It's Genevieve from CURF. Glad to find you, my dear! I learned of your blog from Fr. Juhl.

Dcs. Emily Carder said...

It's good to hear from you. I pray all is going well.