Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grassroots Economics

It seems to me like a simple matter of supply and demand – but apparently it is more than that.  Let’s talk first about the supply side.
We have corn.  Lots of corn.  Evidently too much corn – at least for our guests for whom this grain on a cob is intended.  I buy it in a seven-pound bagful at our local nursery – twelve to fourteen per.  In normal times I put out one ear every day on our “Squirrel Corn Feeder” – a miniature faux picnic table with an upward pointing three-inch screw onto which the cylindrical kernel-holder is rotated. 
Said feeding device is six feet up on the trunk of an oak tree in the front of our front yard.  A series of recent snowstorms and cold weather have rendered passage to this dining spot more difficult than I am willing to exert effort on.  So I have instead resorted to plunging these maize feeding devices upright into the snow-bank that sits directly outside our family room within five to six feet of the other hanging cafeterias dedicated to the neighborhood birds – thus fulfilling my obligation to the bushytailed rodents and presumably affording Mars and me an even better view of their feasting antics.
Not surprisingly it took about twenty minutes for the squirrels to discover the corn’s new location.  Surprisingly however, unlike at the official “Squirrel Corn Feeder” where the little tree rodents gnaw and ingest basically all of the yellow buds of grain, here on the more primitive eating surface they seem to be removing them and piling them up, somewhat neatly, on the icy white mound and paved ground beneath them.  Then they walk away and leave them.
At the fancy corn feeder the small number of kernels that inadvertently had dropped to the ground were quickly swept up by bands of marauding crows that pass through our neighborhood on a daily basis.  Now the very same big black birds tromp back and forth over the very same food-source and ignore it.
 Meanwhile, on the demand side, flocks of robins are moving into our village.  In the past week Mars and I have, in our travels, seen at least two groups of twenty or more hopping purposefully across lawns looking for uncovered patches of grass and, presumably, the bounty of (probably freeze dried) worms within.  Not happening!
And it is also not happening that the robins are even remotely interested in our cast-aside maize.
When the weather warms a bit, and the snow melts, these red-breasted thrushes will be all over our plantation sucking up long, slimy, invertebrates and ultimately knocking back blueberries and the other round fruits that we supply throughout the growing season.  With luck they’ll have to peck their way though some of the kernels that undoubtably still will be lying around and, in the process, develop a taste for this carb on a cob.
Then when the next cold season rolls around – while the rest of the world struggles with GNPs and inflation – our little wildlife feeding enterprise can achieve total economic equilibrium.

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