Eating Me Out Of House And Home … Part II

Photo by Susan Crossett

My first Musing on this subject dealt with the disappearing outdoor food. To date, my cupboards have remained safe and untampered with. But, let me hasten to add, it’s not for a lack of trying.

I look at the damage done and feel some sort of admiration for the persistence of these little critters.

The outside ones are certainly pests but attractive ones. The deer have a certain majesty — even when coming by threes to my feeders daily. I know chipmunks were sold abroad in pet stores (not to me, I promise) and wouldn’t mind shipping more off to the British Isles. They can be a little too house-friendly for my taste. Still, I can’t help but respect the squirrels in spite of their high jinks. It seems the reds are more agile, clever enough to squeeze inside the suet holder which promised to be squirrel-proof. (Little do they know!)

I sometimes hear the little sneaks racing through the house. MY house. As if I didn’t already have enough to keep the traps sporadically sprung, Gloria brings in others. It’s playtime — until she tires of the game and leaves it to my wiles to disinvite her guests. (Some continue to visit the traps and, occasionally, do stay.)

All right. Nothing ever said I had to admire them — or even like them — to still respect their tenacity.

A huge white plastic bucket rests on a table in the basement. With contents weighing just under four pounds it contains chews of Glucosamine Chondroitin for the dog. I suspect this was a mouse (or a troop?) that chewed over three inches across the lid. Did it/they really feel so strong a desire for improved cartilage and joint health?

Agreed, there’s not much else available to eat downstairs but, then again, neither was that container. I look again at the damage and think how many hours had to be spent chowing on what must be a tasteless lid.

Looking again, I can see one spot where the top of the pail might have been reached. Did the critter(s) then realize their efforts had all been for naught? They’d only reached the very zenith of the bucket beneath and, really, there was no way to get a purchase on that without a great deal more chewing.

A fine exercise. I suspect their teeth were indeed strong by the time they gave up if not when they began. (They — it? — must have moved on. I wonder to where. Or is that another surprise awaiting me on another day?)

And then there’s the case of the huge bucket I use to store birdseed. Two of them are placed on the garage floor near the door I use to get to the feeders.

I suspect a critter larger than a mouse for this job. It was a cold winter and I imagine those little mousies would prefer to remain indoors.

My suspects for this caper are more likely chipmunks (though I see few when it’s really cold) or those squirrels who have already demonstrated their ability to munch on just about anything.

Besides, the plastic here is thick enough to deter any but the most determined. And, yet again, a large swath was chewed off along the upper edge of the lid and up across some of the back. Part of the handle is missing. (Does that indicate intelligence or just a recognition of the possible food flavor on my hand?) A lot of resolve took place there.

Nonetheless, the effort would ultimately lead to only frustration for the food was never reached. In fact, I feel fully confident that I can keep using the same container. Nobody’s getting in there without my OK for a very long time. I’d just like to feed the foods to those for whom it was intended: chews for dogs, seed for the birds.

Is that really too much to ask?

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her “Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at