This "Best of Bogue" column originally was published July 31, 2009.
Dear Gary: I have been a resident of San Ramon for 33 years and have planted a garden off and on for most of those years. I never had a problem with squirrels until now. They are not going after my zucchini or green beans but they were eating my tomatoes.
Being an Internet guru, I searched many a blog until I came across one that suggested placing red glass Christmas tree balls on my tomato plants. Believe it or not, it has worked. Those little suckers were fooled!
They go after my tomatoes and instead get something inedible. My family is now enjoying the fruits of my labor.
Dear Kathy: I love a creative gardener. Merry Christmas!
Dear Gary: Last week I found like a half of a cup of white rice in my birdbath. No one has access to our yard and we were out of rice. I let it stay there maintaining the water level and over a week or so about half of it disappeared.
It couldn't have been a squirrel because he would have knocked the bath over trying. Anyway, just wondering if you have heard about this before. I didn't think birds were that smart to soften their rice.
I've had reports of crows softening dried pieces of meat they found by dropping the dried meat (jerky?) into a birdbath, then eating it later when it was soft. But a half cup of rice?
They'd have to bring it grain by grain and I think you'd have noticed.
Any detectives or mystery writers out there in never-never-land with ideas on this?
I checked back with Matt and he hasn't seen any crows in his yard.
Dear Gary: One evening last fall shortly before sunset, I was sitting on my patio when a dove landed near my feet.
He hopped on my knee and a few seconds later onto my shoulder. He seemed ready to spend the night. When it started to get dark and I wanted to go into the house, I gently tried to push him off my shoulder. He objected by lightly pecking at my fingers. He finally flew away when I got up.
Every evening about sunset for the next two weeks he'd land on my shoulder and we'd go through the same routine. Then he stopped coming and I never saw him again. I kind of miss the little guy.
Dear Howard: Sounds like a dove that someone raised. A wild dove certainly won't be that tame. It may have escaped from a nearby aviary and wandered into your yard. Then after two weeks, it may have wandered back to its aviary. Tame birds do that.
I'll bet you enjoyed those visits!
Dear Gary: Our little friend is gone, vanished, disappeared, vamoosed. He, or she, was a squirrel.
This squirrel was very distinctive as he had no tail. He really looked strange!
We know squirrels use their tails to control their balance as they charge down their paths through the trees. Our little friend seemed to get along OK with the other squirrels, but he did look strange.
Where could he be?
Dear Bill: Squirrel tails serve an amazing assortment of functions. They help with balance, are useful for sign language, are a handy soft pad to land on if you fall, and a warm cover to sleep under.
When a squirrel loses its tail, it has to work overtime to deal with these many losses.
No tail means it's easier to fall or get caught by a predator. Or maybe it met a new mate and they moved to a new location together.
I always think positive.