Thursday, December 02, 2004

Greasing the Pole

How is it that a squirrel can outsmart me? As mentioned in an earlier post, I bought a new birdfeeder to attract birds and entertain my cat. It looked rodent-proof to me and the product text claims to keep squirrels out. Yet, I looked out my kitchen window this weekend to see a squirrel, hanging upside-down from the top of the feeder globe, helping himself to seed. When my motion startled him, he easily shimmied down the birdfeeder pole – a slim metal pole that I did not think a squirrel could climb. Incensed, I put my mind to work on a plan to foil the fat squirrel.

I have no tenderness for squirrels. I find their chunky little bodies repulsive. Who likes squirrels? How can it be that one can buy a product designed to feed them?! (I don’t really like birds any better. They crap on my car. But I like my kitty and she likes to watch them.)

My hometown of Longview, WA is a logging town. On the 4th of July each year, competitive logging events are held at Lake Sacajawea. One of the events is a race to climb a greased, upright log. While I have never watched the competition, the idea inspired me. I thought that I could prevent the squirrel from climbing the birdfeeder pole by greasing it.

Although I dislike squirrels, I didn’t want to use anything toxic to slick the pole. I also didn’t want to use any sort of food grease, like Crisco, because it would probably attract animals that would just lick it off. Petroleum jelly sounded like the answer! The man that discovered petroleum jelly ate a teaspoon of it every day and lived to be 96, so it couldn’t hurt a squirrel too much.

I wonder what my neighbors thought of me as I was rubbing down a cold metal pole in my front yard on Sunday afternoon. I’m sure they don’t have a high opinion of us anyhow, especially since we are the trashy people. Braving social disapproval, I applied a thick coat of jelly to the pole and the top of the birdfeeder.

I am rarely home during the daylight hours, so I am not able to watch for the acrobatic squirrel. One of my coworkers told me that I could gauge whether the squirrels are eating the birdseed by noting how quickly it disappears. So, I have been monitoring the seed level. The seed reservoir went from 1/3 full to empty in 2 days. Before the greasing, with the squirrel eating the seed, the reservoir had not been depleted at such a high rate. That leaves me with two conclusions. Either the squirrel just LOVES petroleum jelly and has been making extra trips up the birdfeeder pole or the birds, no longer being frightened away by the squirrel, are eating more.

I have exciting plans to stake out the birdfeeder this weekend. If the squirrel is still running up and down the lubed pole, I am considering barbed wire or sticky paper.


Blogger Scott in Washington said...

Possibly unintentionally, you are keeping us in suspense. What happened to the squirrels? Did you see their oilely little prat falls? Did they try to shimmey their overweight, birdseed eating selves up the pole to no availe? Did their long yellow teeth chitter in frustration? Did you get it on tape?

4:37 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

My covert ops took place on Sunday morning. I sat in the sunroom with my cat and monitored the birdfeeder. We had finches, cardinals, and two squirrels visit the site. The squirrels stayed on the ground (and the cardinals, for that matter). The sneaky little bastards may have been faking me out. When I turned my back, they could have shimmied up the greased pole, laughing at me all the way. However, the bird seed is holding I think my counter-offensive was successful.
Unfortunately, I did not get to witness any "pratfalls." Perhaps the most amusing vaseline-related incident was me trying to open the door after handling the birdfeeder. (I had refilled it.)

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was good to read about your covert op. :-D I bought a bird feeder this year and was disappointed to see that squirrels can access it with no trouble at all. This morning I thought, "Aha! I will grease the pole with vacuum grease (non-toxic) and see what happens!"
You have given me hope that my plan might work!

4:31 AM  
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12:28 AM  
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