Prior to the last presidential election there was a population explosion of squirrels around the area. They’ve always been a pest at our bird feeder. Now there were so many bickering over sunflower seeds that they crowded the birds out. Something had to be done.
The fancy cedar post decorated with bare cedar branches was too easy for the rodents to climb. I pulled it out of the ground and removed the bird feeder. In its place I drove a long section of one-inch steel pipe into the ground, and reattached the feeder.
I have a five-gallon pail of grease that I use on various farm equipment. I took a flat paint stirring stick and spread the grease nice and thick up and down the pipe. That solved my problem.
After a couple days of trying to climb the steel pole, and licking their bitter paws, the sulking squirrels gave up. I’m not that bad of a guy. I still sprinkle a few seed on the ground for them.
With the voting showdown approaching I was asked by the Antrim Democrats to put up political signs. It’s a way of balancing the other side.
We own two acres down on the southeast corner of Stone Circle Drive and U. S. 31. After a steep slope down from the highway the land is a small flat pine forest and sometimes wetlands. It’s one of several crossing spots for deer on our road.
Every spring I put up a poetic speed limit sign. “Caution, reckless fawn ahead. Drive slowly.” It works.
Putting up political signs is bigger job. Because of the steep incline, I have to pound wooden posts into the ground inside the guardrail. Then I staple the metal frames of the signs to the posts.
It’s a lot of extra work. And since the small wooded area isn’t visible from our house, the signs are usually vandalized by what I call “marauders in the night.”
The first time they stole my signs. The second time they ripped them off the posts and tossed them down the slope. A big garter snake lives down there. I fished the signs out of the tall grass with a long-handled tree trimming saw, and stapled them back up.
I thought of the squirrels and the grease. I figured if the trick worked on rodents, it would work on marauders, too.
I took my paint stirring stick and buttered the tops and sides of my signs. For a special touch I sprinkled green and blue glitter into the grease.
I strategically placed pieces of cardboard on the ground near the sign posts, and coated them with grease. That way when the vandal stepped over the guardrail … squish.
Next morning my political signs were still there, marked with distinct hand prints. Some of the cardboard was gone.
My signs survived for the next two weeks unharmed. The morning of election day they were missing again. The goons must’ve smartened up and used gloves and a garbage bag. I pulled the posts out of the ground and stored them in the garden shed.
This month’s poem was written in the words of Betty Dunham who participated in the Kalkaska Elders Project. She was interviewed by a sixth-grade girl, and I wrote the poem.
I haven’t yet put any political signs up for this mid-term election. Still, my wife and I feel strongly about attacks on the environment, public education, women’s rights and true history. When I was in middle school, reading banned books is what inspired my poetry career.