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I have something of a ‘range war’ going on in my backyard. In the latter part of the winter (which, in Canada can still include drops of snow as it did this past weekend in May), I noticed small holes and clumps of dirt being upturned on my grass. I use the term ‘grass’ rather than lawn because what I have doesn’t really deserve the dignity of the title ‘lawn’. In fact, most of the yard is covered (accidentally) with various types of ground covers (violets, forget-me-nots, daisies, and two other pink and purple flowering things for which I do not have a name). There is a small area where grass actually lives. Since I am plagued with several squirrels competing for the bird seed I put out for ACTUAL birds, I assumed they were digging up the grass and planting leftover sunflower seeds. I also assumed they’d dig them up in the spring or when the next famine strikes.

When Crazy D came for a visit, he took one look and said one word: “Skunks.” After which he said more words — none of them printable, but he was positive, having worked once on a t.v. reality show with a ‘Critter Gitter’, he had seen their lifestyle up close and personal. I was skeptical until I went to the local hardware store with a staff that actually knows stuff, and asked them. The clerk also said one word:”Skunks.” Then he added that they’re bad this year.

What to do? Crazy D warned me not to try to catch the skunk in a cage. Well, duh! How stupid does he think I am? Don’t answer that…

So it appears that, according to the guy in the store, stomping the grass clumps back in place, throwing a liberal amount of grass seed around, adding some more soil, praying for rain are my options. So I did. Still no sign of new grass. But if I’m lucky, the ground covers may quickly overtake the whole mess and solve my problem. The covers are very pretty when they bloom…and there’s always the chance they might snaggle up a skunk or two in their tentacles.

That isn’t my only problem, though. I know Gill and Crazy D marvel at the cuteness and plumpness (hell, we passed plump 30 pounds ago) of my bevy of black and grey-and-white squirrels. They raid the ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeders, leaving the lovely goldfinches and cardinals to starve while they feed their horrific stomach rolls.

And the tiny mice occasionally find their way inside the nearby bbq — attracted by all the seed, of course. More than one terrified mouse has cowered in the corner of it while I wield my lighter, attempting to cook my dinner. I’m too terrified of the poor mouse to attempt to catch it and my screams apparently don’t intimidate him, so I give a silent prayer for forgiveness to whatever power might be watching me, and light the appliance. I can only hope he made it out in time! But it’s me or him…even I will not alert the EMS team for one poor mouse and I don’t do CPR on them either.

And then, in a flurry of spring cleaning (a concept usually foreign to me) I was sweeping the garage floor and, amongst my supply of firewood, discovered a chipmunk nest…full of soft stuffing from the cushions on the front porch settee and maple keys from the nearby tree. I swear, all I wanted was to enjoy the sight and songs of a few lovely birds. And THIS is what I get!

The final (I hope) indignity I have suffered is that my wooden bird feeder,   the one that Crazy D kindly got me, the one that is nailed to the deck railing, is lying in chips and shards of wood on the deck floor–having been viciously attacked this week by, I assume, the squirrels. Or maybe it’s raccoons. Or the skunks. Whatever.

The city has enacted new regulations to discourage people from feeding animals. Fine…I have learned my lesson.But I’m not! Other people do feed the deer and I understand that there are real concerns about coyotes,etc. But I hardly think it’s fair to target me — all I want is a few pretty birds! At any rate, the critters are doing a much better job of targeting me and making me never want to feed anything wild (including my own grown children) ever again. Give me a break, people!!