Margaret Carlson, age 81, lives in a quaint little house, tucked away next to a hillside on Croftville road, and she takes care of very large family. And according to Margaret, they’re quite spoiled.
On a recent afternoon, I joined Margaret in her yard. At the sound of her voice, sweetly calling, “Babies, come get some nummies,” 10 chipmunks quickly arrived on scene, wasting no time to dig into the pile of peanuts she provided.
“Oh goodness,” she laughs and says with a smile, “they are so much fun. And they absolutely love company.”
Looking around, it’s clear the chipmunks have found a five star location to stay, complete with five chipmunk houses courtesy of Margaret’s kids and grandkids, a water dish, and toys to play on. Not to mention a very generous host that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Margaret says she spends most of her summer days outside with them.
“When I dig in the garden, they dig too. And they recognize my voice. I usually just shout babies, or sweethearts, and they come running over,” says Margaret.
Judging by their behavior as I interviewed Margaret, new guests certainly don’t faze them, as they immediately ran over to me, checking for more food. Apparently, her previous guest had a chipmunk sitting on his shoulder while working on her house. And according to Margaret, they love company, especially kids.
“I think they know if it’s a kid interacting with them. They’re pretty famous, you know. I have people stop by to see them quite often and sometimes they will bring me peanuts or sunflower seeds for them. I once had a woman bring me a 40 pound bag of seeds,” Margaret said.
With so many chipmunks eating so often, I wondered if she had experienced any revolts when food rations run low. She laughs, “I
haven’t had that problem yet. Just ask them down at Hanks (Bucks Hardware) how often I’m there buying food. Why, I’m probably going to have to get more today.”
But chipmunks aren’t the only animals she’s taken care of. She has a full list that includes ducks, a seagull, deer, a squirrel and even a bobcat. She proudly showed me pictures of all of them.
“I named the ducks Jon and Kate Gossling,” she says. And like the chipmunks, the birds and deer will feed out of her hand too. The bobcat she admired from inside.
When I asked how it all began and how much of her time and patience it took for the animals to become so trusting, she simply replied, “Oh I don’t really know. It just happened. They just know.”