Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Gotten Squirrely Around Here

Hello! Although I like to shop in secondhand markets, I don't typically buy things to add or start collections. Sure, I have a few small collections, but those just happened by chance. My purchases are usually made because I liked the item for its decorative and/or functional value, or because I can use it in crafting. 

However, I do collect something of a specific nature, and that is squirrel-related items. And with the ushering in of the fall season, what better time to show off this collection?

Some of my squirrel figures are actually Christmas ornaments, so they live on my fall-themed tabletop feather tree. The ornament in the background is a Beatrix Potter licensed product. 

I cross-stitched and sewed up this design last fall. 

A small decorative tile from the Moravian Tile Works of Doylestown, PA. Highly recommended if you are ever in that area!

Lollipop mold, two tiny squirrels and a Squirrel Nutkin pin.

This pot with squirrel was a birthday gift from my youngest sister several years ago. 

Vintage chalkware; a gift from my husband. A similar figure is currently listed at $35.00 on eBay.

Mama squirrel with a couple of her children. Don't recall where I got this set; perhaps at a garage sale run by an antiques dealer. 

Squirrel Nutkin again - this figurine was produced by Royal Albert in 1989. This might have collectible value.

Love the expression on the face of this critter! This is the "pepper" of a salt and pepper shaker set; the "salt" is an acorn shape. Hostess gift one Thanksgiving from houseguests. 

Anybody for some squirrel-shaped cookies?

I purchased the basket last fall at a thrift store, while the nut-shaped container with the squirrel on top was given to me by my husband's aunt. She had gotten it as a gift; it had come with a bag of mixed nuts. 

The above photos represent some, but not all, of my squirrel collection. It's not a huge collection, and I only occasionally add to it nowadays. Nevertheless, it's enjoyable to me. 

If you wondered "why squirrels?", there is an answer to that question, and it goes back to when my husband and myself were living in our first house. This was in the late 1980's and we were in Wisconsin. A squirrel had gotten into our house while we were out one evening and had had a good old time trying to get out. In the process, it had broken some decorative items and knocked out power to half the downstairs. 

We didn't know if it was still in the house - well, I found out when I went down the basement to do laundry the next day (somehow it had squeezed itself underneath the basement door). Saw the squirrel scampering around down there!

Being inexperienced homeowners, we called an exterminator. He came with a live trap and bait, but the squirrel was wily. It ate the bait without getting trapped - two times this happened. So the next step was setting out some poison. 

I think now that I wouldn't have gone along with the poison, but at that time I didn't want that squirrel to decide to go back up the basement stairs to the rest of the house. The electrical repair was expensive and not covered by our homeowner's insurance. And some of the broken knick knacks had come from my deceased grandmother's house. I didn't want any more damage done.

The poison did the trick - the next time I went down to the basement, there was the body of the squirrel, near the washing machine. I felt so bad about it, I drew a chalk line around its body, just like you see on those law enforcement TV shows. The exterminator laughed at that; said he'd never seen a customer do that before. 

So, I suppose I began to collect squirrel items to atone for that squirrel's death. That Royal Albert figurine was issued right around that same time, so it might have been the first squirrel in my collection. 

Flash forward to a full decade later - by then, we were living in Terre Haute, IN. Began to have a squirrel problem there too, only this time it was as if there was a door in the attic just for them. A squirrel would get into the attic, run around some, then exit. My husband bought a live trap and used peanuts as the bait. We were successful where that exterminator in Wisconsin hadn't been - caught six squirrels over a period of four years. (yeah, I know, we should have tried to find out where the "squirrel door" was, but it was a huge house and we had enough expenses maintaining it as it was). 

Before getting trapped, the squirrels occasionally caused some mayhem in that attic. I did my sewing and crafting up there, and also used one corner of the room for gift wrapping. Thus, one Christmas our daughter's Christmas stocking got a hole chewed in it, and some of the basket-shaped felt Christmas ornaments I'd made to give to our nieces and nephews went missing. However, a few tell-tales bits of colored foil nearby gave a clue as to what the squirrel had been after: the stocking and the felt baskets all held foil-wrapped chocolate candies. 

Another time, I cut out the pieces for sewing a blouse and set them aside, intending to get back to the project the next day. But when I returned to the attic as planned, they were gone! I just about tore up the room looking for them, figuring that somehow I had only thought I'd left them out - if they weren't on the table where I'd recalled leaving them, then surely I must had put them away somewhere. I felt like I was going nuts, but a prolonged search of the attic turned up nothing. 

It was a mystery - until a few months later when I spied a couple of the fabric pieces outside, dangling from a shrub. A squirrel must have come into the attic and whisked that would-be blouse away. Perhaps it thought the fabric would make a nice lining for a nest. But I'd left the tissue paper pattern pieces pinned onto the fabric, to keep from getting the blouse sections mixed up before I was ready to sew them together. I wondered what the squirrels had done about the pins.

By the way, one of those felt basket ornaments had been dropped by a squirrel outside at some point as well. I found it in our side yard a full six months after its disappearance. 

Fortunately, our current house has been squirrel-free so far. Instead, I enjoy feeding the squirrels who come to our back deck for handouts and like watching them scamper around on the huge maple near the deck. Outside is where they should be, after all - and where I hope they'll stay!




  1. Great story! Personally, I like to chase squirrels... on foot. It just makes me chuckle to see them scurry for the nearest tree and look down at the "crazy lady" below. :) Love your collection and the cross stitched acorn you made too.

  2. Thanks, Ms. KC! I'm the opposite when I see the squirrels on my deck -when I step out onto it, they run away. I call out, "Don't be afraid of me - I won't hurt you!" But they don't listen to me. Still, there's a few braver ones who will come to the deck to eat the food I've put out for them, even if I'm sitting just a few feet from them in my deck chair.