Friday’s Weekend Column
Everyone is Getting Ready

by James Glaser
October 8, 2004

As I walked over to the workshop this morning, I bet I saw 10 chipmunks. Well to be honest, I only saw parts of them, because they are running through all the maple leaves that have fallen and their little bodies are under and over the leaves as they run to this place and that, hiding seeds for the winter

Right now, up in the cedar trees, the squirrels are cutting off the clumps of seeds and they are falling all over the place. The squirrels get mad when they see these chipmunks grabbing "their" seeds and there is a real racket going on with the squirrels "Che Cheing" at anyone who even looks at their seeds.

The chipmunks will sit there stuffing seeds into their cheeks until their heads look huge and then they run off to some secret hideout to store them. I was just sitting on the deck and the whole area between here and the lake is alive with animals getting ready for winter and you know what, they don't like me out there at all.

The deck is covered with clumps of seeds and only the very bold will come up there and challenge me for them. Of course the older animals know me and walk right up and take what they want, as they know I am not about to hurt them. The young scared ones have to yell and shout at me, like they are trying to get me to leave.

This time of the year there a lot of fights. I guess everyone knows if they don't store enough, they will die come next spring.

This is also the time of year we get to see birds heading south for the winter. Some Canadian birds think right here is south enough. I call them Slate Colored Juncos, but the books call them Dark-eyed Junco. They are tiny birds with almost pink bills and feet. They move down here from Canada. They don't like the feeder, but will eat any seeds you spread on the ground. Many of them will be here all winter and after the snow starts to cover the ground, they seem to like my feeder.

This is the time of year that we see a lot of American Goldfinch too. In the summer the males look almost like a Canary with bright yellow bodies and dark wings, but come late fall, they become a dull light brown like the females are all year. I noticed them today, because they had cleaned out my thistle feeders.

Blue Jays are supposed to be here all year long, but now and throughout the winter there will be groups of them at the feeders and I must say, these Jays are not nice birds. They don't like other birds eating with them, in fact, they don't like other jays eating with them.

I guess the shorter days and the crisp cool air makes me want to get ready too. I have made the jelly and now I am cooking down tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, which I will freeze.

It was one of the coldest summers ever up here and so I don't have a lot of produce to put up. I did get a lot of hot peppers and garlic too. I ate all my berries, but will be able to make it on potatoes if I have to. I think next year I will plant more, probably will start a herb garden and have a lot more salad greens.

I was just thinking about "making it" on potatoes and now I know why so many came over here from Ireland. I like potatoes, but as the main dish, they would get pretty boring.

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