Big Mike's Chipmunk Ranch

Photo by Margie Johnson

By Mike Johnson

I run about 20 head. I donít do the actual breeding but my water and feed certainly set the mood.

Each morning, I whack the feeding cup against a log three times to announce breakfast. The still woodpile turns into waves of critters.

First the chipmunks scurry from their slumber in the log crevices. Then a Clarks Nutcracker caws to his friends. Then a pine squirrel squeals to alert her buddies. A prairie dogís head rises skyward.

A new day starts on the mountain.

The big birds have aerial (and size) superiority. They can quickly devastate the food piles so all the other woodland creatures have to work quickly.

The squirrels can only carry off one peanut at a time. But they make up for it with persistence and systematic, speedy returns. And by chasing off any other animal to get what they want.

The chipmunks claim a pile and fill their cheeks. They stuff their faces while they can, they'll swallow later.

The prairie dogs are skittish, so donít subject themselves to the frenzy. They know the interior routes throughout the woodpile. Plenty of food falls where only they can find it.

Itís much cheaper feeding these guys than deer. Just birdseed and peanuts. The savings inspire me to splurge on the caviar of birdseed, fruit & nut mix.

Everyone on the pile loves it.

A few dozen deer will return from higher elevations when winter settles in.

Until then, life is easier. Warmer. Dryer. Calmer.

When the snow flies, the chipmunks hibernate. The squirrels snuggle into their well-stocked nests.

When daylight starts disappearing by 5pm, I do both.

Every ranch has its cycles.

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More:

My Squirrely Romance

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