Yesterday was given over entirely to working in the yard. I pulled up two trashcans full of weeds and cut away a small forest of crabapple suckers. We also spent a good amount of time defending our yard from wildlife.
Now, I try to be very accommodating of most animals that wander onto our property, but I'm really getting sick of the squirrels. They dig up my garden and they eat all our peaches. And I like peaches. A lot. Our peach tree is pretty much the only fruit we've grown so far, if you don't count the tiny little alpine strawberries and the tree full of sour cherries (which I don't).
Our peach tree is huge and ill-formed and produces only tiny little fruit. But, boy are they good. Really, though, I can't say that with 100% confidence. I have eaten exactly 2 small and hard peaches 3 years ago. I remember them to be very tasty. And I would like to eat more of them. Thus the next bit of yard work.
Jeff helped me to cover several of the branches of our peach tree with bird netting. I say 'several branches' and not 'the entire tree' because it really is a monstrously formed tree. And it would be impossible to cover the entire thing without the use of a cherrypicker, which unfortunately we don't have.
After about 10 minutes of wrestling with the netting, we decided to consult the internet for advice. The first bit about bird netting (from a site with links to buy it) was this... "It's efficient and easy to use. Controlling birds is a snap with bird netting. Just place it on the tree, bush or plant, and birds are no longer a problem." Humm. They must be talking about either a different type of netting or a different type of tree (maybe one shaped like a beach ball with no branches or twigs).
The second bit of advice we found had this to say about the netting... "An important tool in the critter kit is bird netting, a product that does not come with instructions on the bag, because if it did, you would know that putting this on a tree taller than eight feet is almost impossible. Working with this material is a real challenge; imagine trying to put a fishnet stocking over a porcupine." OK, so that's how it's supposed to work. We just need to muster up more patience and head back out there.
Another bit of advice we encountered on the web was about animals getting stuck in the netting. Basically, if we were to leave any place for critters to get in through the netting, not only would they get our fruit, but they'd also probably die in there. Either that or we'd have to pay some animal control person to come and remove the animal (because a trapped squirrel would be none too happy if we were to try to extricate him ourselves). Whether I would pay a professional to save the life of this hypothetical squirrel would honestly depend on how many unwanted holes had been dug in my garden that morning.
So Jeff and I continued to wrestle the fishnet stocking over our porcupine of a tree. Eventually we succeeded, sort of. And then we used about 800 twist ties to close the entire thing up. I took the picture above as I laid on the ground checking for possible entry routes.
At one point, Jeff and I noticed a couple birdies doing what looked like a courting dance on our porch. It was cute, but the problem was that they were doing said dance in the crease of the new roller shade that we recently put up (like three weeks ago) to keep the afternoon sun from baking our cement porch and creating a giant heat sink. We hoped that maybe they would just flirt there and then move on to find a more private space to build the nest.
So, we got to work on a project long overdue. Two of the birdhouses in our yard had come loose from the trees and several others needed to be cleaned out. When we were finished, the birds had 4 freshly cleaned houses to chose from.
Unsurprisingly, the birds were unappreciative of our efforts.
At about 6 this morning, I opened the door to see one of the birds flying away from their little perch in the shade. By 7, it has become a nest. This one, in fact.
So, after I took this picture I told the birdie that, really, she would be much happier somewhere else. Somewhere further away from where people are all the time. Somewhere, like perhaps, one of the many birdhouses just over there. See that one. Oh and that one. Oh, there's another one.
And then I unrolled the shade.
I know I'm doing them a favor, but I still feel guilty.