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Archive for October, 2007

Fresh Tomato Treat

Ingredients:

  • fresh-picked, vine-ripened Roma tomatoes from the veggie garden
  • fresh-picked, tender basil leaves from the veggie garden

Dressing:

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 t. salt

Thinly slice tomatoes crosswise so you have nice circles and top each with a basil leaf.

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients together with a small whisk or fork, they will thicken and blend nicely. Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes and serve immediately.

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I realized how ignorant I was about our furry neighbors when I was surprised to see such young squirrels so late in the summer. So I’ve read up a bit.

It seems that the squirrels we have here in Colorado are fox squirrels, or Sciurus niger. As far as I can tell, they are not natives of the area, but were introduced by early settlers.

Some facts related to squirrels’ mating habits:

  • Fox squirrels can mate any time of year; this behavior peaks in December and June.
  • The gestation period is about 45 days.
  • At two months the young are out of the nest and capable of climbing.
  • Average litter size is 2-3, but litters range between 1 and 7.
  • Females can produce 2 litters in a year, although 1 is the norm.

So, if Mama Squirrel met Papa Squirrel in mid-June, our young squirrels would have been born in late July, so they would have been capable of leaving their nest in late September. That certainly makes sense! I can almost guess their birthdate!

I can’t know if they are siblings of the baby squirrel I found in the spring, or if we have two mama squirrels, but it is interesting to note that they could in fact be from the same mother.

Other tidbits:

  • Under natural conditions squirrels will live to 8 to 18 years old. However, most squirrels die before they reach adulthood, putting their average lifespan in the wild at 7 months.
  • Fox squirrels do not hibernate and are active in rain and after snowfalls, when limbs are covered with snow and ice.

By the way, the meat of the fox squirrel is apparently highly palatable.

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Grunting younguns

As of late, I rely entirely on Phil to keep me up to date on life in the Big Tree.

When I got home last Tuesday, Phil told me I had to come see the baby squirrels.

One of the baby squirrels

Baby squirrels? In October?

But, sure enough, there were two young squirrels playing in the Big Tree. Baby Squirrels Playing

I could tell they were young not only by their size, but by their absolute lack of fear of Charlie. I watched in shock as one nearly jumped into her open jaws.

The strangest thing about this encounter was that they were continually grunting. Nonstop. Not squeaking, but actually grunting. They kept running up and down the tree. I finally decided they must be hungry, so Phil put an apple in the tree (which was gone the next morning) and we brought the dog inside to give them some peace for a while.

Cuddly Baby Squirrels

A couple of days later, Charlie did catch one, but Phil seems to have rescued it in time, and reports witnessing a small squirrel dripping with dog slobber scurrying up the Big Tree.

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