Sunday, May 22, 2016

Down With the Ash

Way back in October, I mentioned I was going to have the dead ash tree, located off the northwest corner of the house, taken down. I had sort of ignored it for a couple years, but it was reaching a point where I could see it becoming a danger to the house and the neighbor's drive and yard. I got a wonderful price from Evergreen Tree Service in nearby Warrenville. They were to call me the day before they took the tree down as I kind of wanted to see it go.

Well, that didn't happen. I came home at the end of October, on a cloudy Friday, and the sky in the backyard was noticeably different. There seemed to be much more light than usual.

The ash was gone. I was a bit miffed. We had agreed that I'd be called, but I had not given them a number beyond my home number and they had a cancellation on that day. I can't fault the guy for bumping this project up to keep a crew busy. This is what remained.

The trash trees around the tree area were removed. The stump was left that height on purpose. I bought this table/ground feeder from Duncraft.

It sits very nicely on the top of the stump.

The idea is I will put squirrel food in here and begin feeding birds off the deck. The key was going to be anchoring the feeder to the top of the stump. At Ace Hardware, their idea was to take off the roof of the feeder, drill two holes through the plastic in the bottom and use two anchor bolts which would be drilled into the top of the feeder. Since the feeder is not flush with the top of the stump, I wouldn't have a worry about food getting moldy, although with the squirrels in my yard, that would never be a problem. My original idea was to get a couple of locks and a small length of chain and use anchor bolts to lock the chain to the side of the stump. The feeder couldn't "walk away", if you will, nor could it be blown off the stump by high winds or if some squirrels had a wrestling match for supremacy of the peanuts.

The more I thought about this, the more I didn't like either idea. While mulling over what I could do, I found some rather stale sunflower bits and deposited those on top of the stump.

I figured if the squirrels didn't like these the raccoons would so there was no danger of these just rotting on top of the stump. Indeed, the mess was gone in 3 days.

Meanwhile, I was adding peanuts to the ground feeder which sat on a table on the deck. It's proven to be a big hit.

Off and on all winter, I added a bag of unshelled and unsalted peanuts, purchased from the grocery, to the feeder. It's incredibly comical to sit in the office and watch several squirrels climb up into the feeder, grab a peanut, and sprint away. In this photo, I added some stale dried cranberries found in the back of the cupboard. They ate those, too, although a possum got into the feeder to clean out what hadn't been eaten and then got stuck trying to turn around. I heard this awful crash that night, on the deck and when I shined a light out there, the animal figured out how to free itself and sprinted, well, ambled fast, off the deck.

I have ordered bird food before from Duncraft so I looked through what they had to offer in terms of "wildlife" goodies. They have these blocks of food. I bought one to see how it would go over.

It sits on top of the stump, ready and waiting for critters to feast. I shouldn't have worried about whether this would be well received.

I think it takes about 2 hours for them to realize a new block has been placed. At the lower left of the stump is the tail of a black squirrel. I'm thrilled to see that in the yard, in addition to the red and gray ones. I'm pretty sure raccoons and probably possums gnaw on the block as I'll come out in the morning and find it knocked off the stump.

It takes, roughly, three days to reduce a block to remnants on the ground.

In another day, not even this is left. Unfortunately, the location of the stump is not in a sight line to sit somewhere, other than the deck, to watch the feasting. I am currently without a food block. I am debating joining their food club. I'd get 10% off any food I purchase. I could, if I so desire, schedule food deliveries. Would the 10% off cover shipping and tax? I don't know. I'll have to crunch numbers to see if the budget would allow something like this. I have three other feeders, one new and two dormant, which I want to put around the house. Depending upon how fast they are emptied and what kind of food I decide to go with, a food club might pay for itself.

Since October, we've had some days of very, very high winds; 50 mph sustained with gusts up to 65 mph. I just know had the ash still been standing, I'd be looking at a large home repair due to a branch coming down. As much as I know I had different bird species using the tree for food, since it would have been full of insects, I'm so glad I removed it. I think, given what I've done with the stump, the squirrels are glad, too.

Beverage:  Water


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