Chad & Chipster

by Marion L. Ritcey

As I watch the backyard looking for Flex and Alex, they are nowhere in sight. But, if I were to put out a seed cake, they would be here in a minute. I think they know when I take the wrapper off one. They are two backyard squirrels who I feed. They hide in the trees and search for food. The yard is full of bird feeders, so they are always trying to get food out of them. I finally got the better of them for now. But they will win in the end.

They have their own feeders stocked with corn and a few nuts. In the fall I put out pumpkins for them to eat. Flex curls in the pumpkins and all you can see is his tail. They wait for them. Then have fun till the snow covers them. Then they are back at the bird feeders.

Peanuts are a favorite, so when they are good I put a few out under the pine tree. There is a special holder for the peanuts. Flex and Alex fight to see who can take the most peanuts. They then run around the yard burying them for later.

When there is no feed in their feeders they try and get the birdfeeders, even the one right outside the kitchen window. Or they will hang around the base of the bird feeders digging in the grass for what the birds throw out.

Flex and Alex have fun chasing each other around the yard. They roll and fight for fun. (I hope.) Every now and then one will sit on top of the big wood swing and fluff his fur and groom himself. That must be date night.

It seems like on Sunday morning they invite the rest of the family to breakfast in the yard. Flex sits and watches everyone to make sure they get enough, while Alex shows where all the good eats are.

Sometimes they hang upside down on the feeder and let pieces drop for everyone on the ground. Then they try to attack the bird feeder for dropped seed. That seems to be a game for them but not for the birds. Mr. Hawk flies by once in a while to keep every one on their toes.

Even Mrs. Bunny and her babies come out of the brush and feed too. They all look so cute under the big pine tree.

The chipmunks follow everyone around the yard. They think no one sees them. They try to hide in the tall grass. It is fun to see them stick their heads up and down to keep track of who is where. Once and a while they are almost back-to-back. Then they get scared and run and jump over and under everyone to get away. Mrs. Bunny jumps high and runs one way — her babies running after her. Everyone else runs every which way.

The yard is quiet for a brief moment. Then it begins again.

As a new day dawns, I see a few new friends in the yard. Flex and Alex are not happy. A flock of wild turkeys have come to see if there is anything good to eat. The turkeys seem to have put Flex and Alex off their games; they seem to be a bit scared of them. Now the turkeys have the droppings from the feeders to themselves. None of the yard friends want to approach them, so for now Flex and Alex are just watching their seed get eaten by the turkeys. Even the little chipmunks are watching. But they are running around the tall grass, hoping not to be seen. At least the birds can land on the feeders and eat since the turkeys are too big to eat from the high feeders. But the birds pick and choose the feed they want, throwing out the rest. So the turkeys can have the seed that drops from the feeders. They will eat their fill. When the turkeys have had their fill, they fly off to another yard.

Now the fun begins again. Everyone is having fun. Dinner time.

When dark comes, most everyone is gone. The only ones left are Mrs. Bunny and her family. They stay up late and have the ground around the feeders to themselves. But, out of the woods come the deer family. They too like the cracked corn that is in the bird feed. They will stay for a while then bed down in the bushes in the yard. They only stay till dawn then they too are gone to other dinners.

Mr. Fox passes through the yard but on to different things. He never stops and eats. (Bird seed is not his thing.) I see him walk down the street and off into the woods for an adventure in the night. Mrs. Owl can be heard in the distance, but never is seen. She is off to the open field to hunt a nice mouse for dinner. But I will hear her through the night and morning.

It is almost dawn, the day will begin. The backyard friends will meet at the feeders and talk of dreams they had. They will run and chase each other but will let all have a meal at the backyard feeders.