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Thread: Wild Squirrels

  1. #1
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    Smile Wild Squirrels


    Hello. My name is Gretchen, and I am new to The Squirrel Board and want to say HELLO! Also, wanted to ask if this board has any help for those of us with WILD SQUIRREL questions?
    I live in Minnesota and we have white, gray ,black red, and flying squirrels. We have 4 squirrel nesting boxes in our backyard and have several white, black, and gray babies every spring. They are so much fun to watch and I love them all! I started out years ago with bird feeders and love to watch all the birdies... and then as more squirrels would come by, I started putting some seed, peanuts, and corn on the ground in specific areas, just for the squirrels (and the turkey's that come by, too). We made some squirrel proof bird feeding stations, so that has never been a problem...and I don't care anyway because the squirrels are not usually destructive. Anyway, after some research on what squirrels "should" be eating, I realized I wasn't being their friend because the whole peanuts, corn, and sunflower seeds are not that nutritious for them. I had been noticing some squirrels with mange and some others that looked sick, maybe with the bone disease I also read about. I felt just terrible, and so I have been buying bulk black walnuts from orchards in South Carolina and Missouri...and also pecans. They love all the nuts! But, after more research, I read that they should only be eating nuts as a "dessert" and only after they've eaten vegetable and wild food they would normally find on their own. Now, I feel just terrible and feel like I've let them down because now they probably have poor nutrition because they've been relying on me and I am not giving them what they need to stay healthy! It is so difficult to see them hurting and suffering...and now, it has been below zero for over a week...last couple nights -12 degrees...when it gets this cold, they seem to like the sunflower seeds best...and peanuts. I did buy some vitamins and protein powder from Henry's and found some nut ball and bar recipes and made some of that to offer them...and they were actually eating them! Not all the squirrels liked them, but most and that makes me feel a little better, but I wouldn't be able to afford to make as many as I would need for all the wild squirrels that come into my yard. And, with it being so cold, they come out every morning when the sun is coming up because they know that I always have peanuts, sunflower seeds, wildlife mix with seeds, dried fruit, etc. and sometimes I have vegetables and cut up apples and blackberries...but, I cannot afford to have enough of all the nutritionally good stuff for 30-40 squirrels daily - so I am looking for advice. How do I "wean" them off the sunflower seeds, peanuts, and corn and provide more of what they need nutritionally? My niece works for HyVee in the produce department, and I was going to ask her about getting some produce...stuff that is still good that they were just going to toss...or, should I gradually offer less of the things that are not so good nutritionally for them, and just put out some vegetables and fruit and nut squares? I ordered a bulk order of vegetable and nut squares from Squirrelnutrition.com...those will be delivered tomorrow. It's a large bulk order of about 200 vegetable and nut squares, but I could go through that pretty fast. Just trying to have a plan to get the squirrels what is best for them, but not leave them high and dry...like providing all this stuff most of the winter, then all of a sudden I take it away...I feel like when its below 20 degrees, they just need something in their tummies, even if it's not the best nutritionally for them, but I don't want to do that anymore...I want to only do good things for them...provide what the need nutritionally, and maybe not what they "like" (peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn)...they are like human teenagers, if they like it they will eat it, even if it might not be the best for them. I always thought animals instinctively knew what's best for themselves, but I guess not in this case. Any thoughts or help would be most appreciated. Sorry for the long post...just having a difficult time finding anyone, or even animal refuge places to return my emails with answers to these questions....thank you so much for any help or direction you can offer...and thank you for this Squirrel Board!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Hello and thanks for being such a caring friend for your wild yard squirrels. Most of the strict nutritional requirements we list (rodent block, the food pyramid etc) are targeted towards NR/indoor squirrels who rely 100% on food from their caretaker.

    Wild squirrels have access to wild food all year. In the late spring, summer and early fall, wild food is available and during the winter, squirrels forage for many food caches that they buried earlier. So supplemental food from you is sort of a luxury or treat. During the harsh winter months, your treats make their lives a lot easier and help them to keep up their strength.

    But wilds seldom if ever develop MBD. I have been feeding my yard wilds and released outdoor squirrel, unsalted almond and pecan treats daily for years. None have developed MBD. I think the extra protein/fat helps them in the winter but in the summer it is just an extra treat for them. For the most part, my wilds ignore block and veggies that I offer, they are not interested. The exception to this is injured or very young squirrels will sometimes take block when I offer it. So I would recommend getting bags of almonds and pecans which are much healthier than peanuts and sunflower seeds.

    If you have squirrels with hair loss, we can help you to easily medicate them with either 1.87% Ivermectin paste (easy to order online at Amazon for example and only costs about $5) or with Kitten Revolution. If you have these or get them, let us know nd we cn provide dosing directions. Do not offer these meds until you have specific dosing directions for squirrels since too much can cause serious harm.

    Quote Originally Posted by GretchenCarlson View Post

    Hello. My name is Gretchen, and I am new to The Squirrel Board and want to say HELLO! Also, wanted to ask if this board has any help for those of us with WILD SQUIRREL questions?
    I live in Minnesota and we have white, gray ,black red, and flying squirrels. We have 4 squirrel nesting boxes in our backyard and have several white, black, and gray babies every spring. They are so much fun to watch and I love them all! I started out years ago with bird feeders and love to watch all the birdies... and then as more squirrels would come by, I started putting some seed, peanuts, and corn on the ground in specific areas, just for the squirrels (and the turkey's that come by, too). We made some squirrel proof bird feeding stations, so that has never been a problem...and I don't care anyway because the squirrels are not usually destructive. Anyway, after some research on what squirrels "should" be eating, I realized I wasn't being their friend because the whole peanuts, corn, and sunflower seeds are not that nutritious for them. I had been noticing some squirrels with mange and some others that looked sick, maybe with the bone disease I also read about. I felt just terrible, and so I have been buying bulk black walnuts from orchards in South Carolina and Missouri...and also pecans. They love all the nuts! But, after more research, I read that they should only be eating nuts as a "dessert" and only after they've eaten vegetable and wild food they would normally find on their own. Now, I feel just terrible and feel like I've let them down because now they probably have poor nutrition because they've been relying on me and I am not giving them what they need to stay healthy! It is so difficult to see them hurting and suffering...and now, it has been below zero for over a week...last couple nights -12 degrees...when it gets this cold, they seem to like the sunflower seeds best...and peanuts. I did buy some vitamins and protein powder from Henry's and found some nut ball and bar recipes and made some of that to offer them...and they were actually eating them! Not all the squirrels liked them, but most and that makes me feel a little better, but I wouldn't be able to afford to make as many as I would need for all the wild squirrels that come into my yard. And, with it being so cold, they come out every morning when the sun is coming up because they know that I always have peanuts, sunflower seeds, wildlife mix with seeds, dried fruit, etc. and sometimes I have vegetables and cut up apples and blackberries...but, I cannot afford to have enough of all the nutritionally good stuff for 30-40 squirrels daily - so I am looking for advice. How do I "wean" them off the sunflower seeds, peanuts, and corn and provide more of what they need nutritionally? My niece works for HyVee in the produce department, and I was going to ask her about getting some produce...stuff that is still good that they were just going to toss...or, should I gradually offer less of the things that are not so good nutritionally for them, and just put out some vegetables and fruit and nut squares? I ordered a bulk order of vegetable and nut squares from Squirrelnutrition.com...those will be delivered tomorrow. It's a large bulk order of about 200 vegetable and nut squares, but I could go through that pretty fast. Just trying to have a plan to get the squirrels what is best for them, but not leave them high and dry...like providing all this stuff most of the winter, then all of a sudden I take it away...I feel like when its below 20 degrees, they just need something in their tummies, even if it's not the best nutritionally for them, but I don't want to do that anymore...I want to only do good things for them...provide what the need nutritionally, and maybe not what they "like" (peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn)...they are like human teenagers, if they like it they will eat it, even if it might not be the best for them. I always thought animals instinctively knew what's best for themselves, but I guess not in this case. Any thoughts or help would be most appreciated. Sorry for the long post...just having a difficult time finding anyone, or even animal refuge places to return my emails with answers to these questions....thank you so much for any help or direction you can offer...and thank you for this Squirrel Board!
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

    Loving dad to Sir Max, 2017-2018. There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

    "Once in a while you get shown the light, In the strangest of places if you look at it right."
    -Grateful Dead

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Thank you for helping your yard friends get through the tough winter. Squirrels in the wild will instinctively balance their diet. Feeding nuts is not as much of a factor for them as it is for captive squirrels that get only what we provide. It is expensive to feed them nuts or other nutritious foods, but since most winters are so severe it’s nice to be able to provide them something to eat so they don’t have to exert energy searching for food.

    Purchasing items from Squirrel Nutrition as well as Henrys is not cheap. Here’s what I do as an alternative. I buy Harlan Teklad 2016 or 2018 rodent block online from the cheapest source. Harlan block is 100% nutritionally complete. It is a hard extruded block and is relatively inexpensive. If your guys are desperate for food, they may eat it as is. I live in Florida and my guys are spoiled so I have to “doctor” it up to get them to eat it. I grind the Harlan block into a powder. Then I grind some nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts and mix it together. You can then add some baby food veggie/fruit combos or unsweetened applesauce and melted coconut oil or avocado oil to bind it all together. I roll this into little balls and feed it before I feed nuts for the day.

    I purchase bags of shelled almonds, walnuts and pecans from Sams Wholesale Club and feed them a variety of these along with some in shell pecans and hazelnuts. I also like to give them some high calorie energy foods like chunks of avocado (no skin or pit), chunks of fresh coconut and fresh corn on the cob chunks and sometimes some sweet potato, blueberries and apple chunks. I’ve put out leafy green veggies, too, but they usually ignore them.

    I know there are others that will take Harlan block and mix it with some cheap peanut butter, microwave it with some coconut oil so it melts and coats the Harlan block, stir it and let it cool. This is a relatively inexpensive way of doctoring the Harlan block to taste better.

    I don’t think you should fret about what you’re feeding your wilds. I think it’s wonderful that you’re concerned enough to go the extra mile to feed them. Thank you.

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  7. #4
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    Smile Re: Wild Squirrels

    Thank you very much - I appreciate you getting back to me and thank you very much for the information! Much appreciated!

    Do you think if I slowly back off on what I've been putting out, it won't be harmful to them...like they won't just be sitting there waiting for food from me and not go out and forage, like they would if I wasn't here doing this for them? Should I just taper off...wouldnt' think stopping cold turkey would be good...dont' want to confuse them. Thank you so much for explaining it to me like this...really makes a lot of sense! My husband always tries to tell me "squirrels don't think like humans do" and they are wild, I shouldn't have to "worry" about them. Guess he has a point, too.



    Quote Originally Posted by TubeDriver View Post
    Hello and thanks for being such a caring friend for your wild yard squirrels. Most of the strict nutritional requirements we list (rodent block, the food pyramid etc) are targeted towards NR/indoor squirrels who rely 100% on food from their caretaker.

    Wild squirrels have access to wild food all year. In the late spring, summer and early fall, wild food is available and during the winter, squirrels forage for many food caches that they buried earlier. So supplemental food from you is sort of a luxury or treat. During the harsh winter months, your treats make their lives a lot easier and help them to keep up their strength.

    But wilds seldom if ever develop MBD. I have been feeding my yard wilds and released outdoor squirrel, unsalted almond and pecan treats daily for years. None have developed MBD. I think the extra protein/fat helps them in the winter but in the summer it is just an extra treat for them. For the most part, my wilds ignore block and veggies that I offer, they are not interested. The exception to this is injured or very young squirrels will sometimes take block when I offer it. So I would recommend getting bags of almonds and pecans which are much healthier than peanuts and sunflower seeds.

    If you have squirrels with hair loss, we can help you to easily medicate them with either 1.87% Ivermectin paste (easy to order online at Amazon for example and only costs about $5) or with Kitten Revolution. If you have these or get them, let us know nd we cn provide dosing directions. Do not offer these meds until you have specific dosing directions for squirrels since too much can cause serious harm.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Quote Originally Posted by GretchenCarlson View Post
    I shouldn't have to "worry" about them.
    When we released our jr., we had to stop feeding our friendly wild pair so there wouldn't be competition. I was surprised how quickly they adapted to the new normal, don't worry

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Thank you!



    Quote Originally Posted by sundoesshine View Post
    When we released our jr., we had to stop feeding our friendly wild pair so there wouldn't be competition. I was surprised how quickly they adapted to the new normal, don't worry

  12. #7
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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Gretchen, My only concern is that you live in Minnesota. Winters are brutal and I know this arctic blast has been especially terrible. If I were you, I’d continue to feed your wild friends until closer to spring. Temperatures like what much of the nation is experiencing will have a detrimental effect on squirrels and their survival ability. I think if they don’t have to venture too far from the warmth of their nests for food it will help them be able to survive these cold temperatures. If you wait till temperatures are more moderate to wean them off the food you’ve been providing I think it would be very helpful.

    Thank you for caring about them.

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    Red face Re: Wild Squirrels

    Hello! Thank you for your thoughts...they make complete sense. I was just outside and it's 5 degrees (above zero)...and getting colder. It has been double digits below zero the last week! We are supposed to have a break in the weather in about a week...still will be cold though. I was just outside putting food for them in all their places they like to eat, close to shelter and their nesting boxes, and I was thinking the same thing...I will wait to "wean them" off when it warms up more...closer to Spring, like you said. I have made some nut bars and balls with vitamins and protein (Henry's recipe) and they will eat those...and I have some veggie/nut squares on the way from Boise...so I will keep feeding them what I have been feeding them...so they can survive the harsh winter...then wean off the "treats" and on to occasional black walnuts from Missouri or pecans from South Carolina...and I will keep putting out the vegetable and nut squares that I buy through squirrelnutrition.com. I also provide year-round fresh water...heated bird bath and a FOUNTAIN...yes, a fountain that my husband put a stock tank heater in it...when it was -15 the other night...still RUNNING! I keep water in all bird baths clean...I have a heated one on the ground for the bunnies...but the birds and squirrels go crazy over the fresh water, especially the RUNNING water...crazy that fountain is still running...people must think I'm NUTS, but I don't care! LOL! Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtfulness.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Gretchen, My only concern is that you live in Minnesota. Winters are brutal and I know this arctic blast has been especially terrible. If I were you, I’d continue to feed your wild friends until closer to spring. Temperatures like what much of the nation is experiencing will have a detrimental effect on squirrels and their survival ability. I think if they don’t have to venture too far from the warmth of their nests for food it will help them be able to survive these cold temperatures. If you wait till temperatures are more moderate to wean them off the food you’ve been providing I think it would be very helpful.

    Thank you for caring about them.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    I am also still feeding our wilds, as it has been super cold here (despite my family saying that they are a threat to Buddy). I will stop feeding them closer to spring and hopefully they will behave and welcome Buddy to the neighborhood!
    Animals are magical....Thank you everyone who tries to help them, save them tirelessly...

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Hi, Gretchen! Thanks for caring for your wild friends. If you have a feed store in your area you might see if they stock or can order the Mazuri rat and mouse diet. It is a complete feed formulated for lab rats. My feed store sells it in #25 bags for $17.95, but I'm in PA, no idea how the price may vary across the country. If you can get that locally it may save some hassle of shipping costs and waiting for delivery. Maybe this is something to think about in future when it warms up a bit. Something better for them and that hopefully won't strain your budget.

    I have two places where I put these blocks each day. My wilds know to look for them there. In snowy weather, like we expect here tomorrow, I give them a peanut party, since the blocks would dissolve. And yes they get spoiled that fast and the next day want to know why it's just boring old blocks and not the good stuff. But they are also pragmatists and know that boring food is still food and will keep them alive.

    I personally think that in severe cold high fat and protein is paramount for energy to stay warm. That's why I don't guilt about giving peanuts when it's really cold. I figure they'll balance the diet after they've kept from freezing to death. But we rarely get the prolonged cold snaps here, maybe several days tops of single digit overnight lows and getting into the teens during the day. That's extreme for this area, maybe not so much in MN?
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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Thank you VERY MUCH for this information. I found it very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
    We were below zero all day and night, and actually it got down into the double digits below zero for several nights in a row.
    We usually get a cold snap like that at least once during the winter...it is brutal, that's for sure.

    Thank you for the budget-friendly tips and advice. Much appreciated! Take care.




    Quote Originally Posted by Chirps View Post
    Hi, Gretchen! Thanks for caring for your wild friends. If you have a feed store in your area you might see if they stock or can order the Mazuri rat and mouse diet. It is a complete feed formulated for lab rats. My feed store sells it in #25 bags for $17.95, but I'm in PA, no idea how the price may vary across the country. If you can get that locally it may save some hassle of shipping costs and waiting for delivery. Maybe this is something to think about in future when it warms up a bit. Something better for them and that hopefully won't strain your budget.

    I have two places where I put these blocks each day. My wilds know to look for them there. In snowy weather, like we expect here tomorrow, I give them a peanut party, since the blocks would dissolve. And yes they get spoiled that fast and the next day want to know why it's just boring old blocks and not the good stuff. But they are also pragmatists and know that boring food is still food and will keep them alive.

    I personally think that in severe cold high fat and protein is paramount for energy to stay warm. That's why I don't guilt about giving peanuts when it's really cold. I figure they'll balance the diet after they've kept from freezing to death. But we rarely get the prolonged cold snaps here, maybe several days tops of single digit overnight lows and getting into the teens during the day. That's extreme for this area, maybe not so much in MN?

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Thank you for helping your yard friends get through the tough winter. Squirrels in the wild will instinctively balance their diet. Feeding nuts is not as much of a factor for them as it is for captive squirrels that get only what we provide. It is expensive to feed them nuts or other nutritious foods, but since most winters are so severe it’s nice to be able to provide them something to eat so they don’t have to exert energy searching for food.

    Purchasing items from Squirrel Nutrition as well as Henrys is not cheap. Here’s what I do as an alternative. I buy Harlan Teklad 2016 or 2018 rodent block online from the cheapest source. Harlan block is 100% nutritionally complete. It is a hard extruded block and is relatively inexpensive. If your guys are desperate for food, they may eat it as is. I live in Florida and my guys are spoiled so I have to “doctor” it up to get them to eat it. I grind the Harlan block into a powder. Then I grind some nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts and mix it together. You can then add some baby food veggie/fruit combos or unsweetened applesauce and melted coconut oil or avocado oil to bind it all together. I roll this into little balls and feed it before I feed nuts for the day.

    I purchase bags of shelled almonds, walnuts and pecans from Sams Wholesale Club and feed them a variety of these along with some in shell pecans and hazelnuts. I also like to give them some high calorie energy foods like chunks of avocado (no skin or pit), chunks of fresh coconut and fresh corn on the cob chunks and sometimes some sweet potato, blueberries and apple chunks. I’ve put out leafy green veggies, too, but they usually ignore them.

    I know there are others that will take Harlan block and mix it with some cheap peanut butter, microwave it with some coconut oil so it melts and coats the Harlan block, stir it and let it cool. This is a relatively inexpensive way of doctoring the Harlan block to taste better.

    I don’t think you should fret about what you’re feeding your wilds. I think it’s wonderful that you’re concerned enough to go the extra mile to feed them. Thank you.
    I bought some of the Harlan Teklad a few years ago and never had much success getting any of the squirrels I was raising to eat it. So what I do during the winter is spread some out for the wilds. When there is a lot of snow on the ground, they may have a hard time getting to their cached food. I clear a small area of snow then leave some Harlan Teklad there. I also feed sunflower seeds, which are fairly inexpensive.

    I buy unshelled nuts from Nuts.com in 25# boxes. They deliver within 1-2 days, free Fed Ex shipping, at least where I live. 25# of hazelnuts is about $112 and 25# of pecans is about $132. I feed these to my previous releases (yes, they are spoiled) and selectively to some of the wilds. Aggressive wilds that get in fights get no treats from me. But I do try to help those lower in the pecking order, especially squirrels that are obviously nursing, injured, etc.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Thank you for helping them. I’m sure they appreciate it.

    For in shell pecans try Ellis Brothers Pecans. Their website is werenuts.com. They sell pecans that are considered and labeled “squirrel food” at a discounted rate. I don’t even think I had to pay shipping for my last order.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Thank you for helping them. I’m sure they appreciate it.

    For in shell pecans try Ellis Brothers Pecans. Their website is werenuts.com. They sell pecans that are considered and labeled “squirrel food” at a discounted rate. I don’t even think I had to pay shipping for my last order.
    Thanks Mel!

    30# for $65 is less than half what I've been paying at nuts.com (25# for $132).

    https://www.werenuts.com/squirrel-food-30-lb


    Now I just have to find a cheaper source of hazelnuts than 25# for $112. With all my squirrels, I've been going through about 3# dauily, which adds up quickly.

    Given the choice, most of my released squirrels will prefer pecans to hazelnuts, although not always. I've tried walnuts in the past, and these seemed to be a clear third choice among my squirrels.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Quote Originally Posted by olorin19 View Post
    Thanks Mel!

    30# for $65 is less than half what I've been paying at nuts.com (25# for $132).

    https://www.werenuts.com/squirrel-food-30-lb


    Now I just have to find a cheaper source of hazelnuts than 25# for $112. With all my squirrels, I've been going through about 3# dauily, which adds up quickly.

    Given the choice, most of my released squirrels will prefer pecans to hazelnuts, although not always. I've tried walnuts in the past, and these seemed to be a clear third choice among my squirrels.
    Oops! I meant about $3 daily of hqazelnuts, not 3#. In other words, about 2/3 pound of hazelnuts daily.

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    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Hazelnuts are a tough one, because most of the hazelnut farms are in Washington or Oregon.....about as far away from me in Florida as possible!! I do order them but haven’t found a significantly cheap source. My daughter was out in those states working at a couple of internships a few years ago. Before she drove home I had her go to one of the hazelnut farms and purchase a huge bag of hazelnuts to bring home with her! That was the best deal possible!

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  31. #17
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    Jul 2016
    Location
    NE Beleriand
    Posts
    302
    Thanked: 379

    Default Re: Wild Squirrels

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel1959 View Post
    Hazelnuts are a tough one, because most of the hazelnut farms are in Washington or Oregon.....about as far away from me in Florida as possible!! I do order them but haven’t found a significantly cheap source. My daughter was out in those states working at a couple of internships a few years ago. Before she drove home I had her go to one of the hazelnut farms and purchase a huge bag of hazelnuts to bring home with her! That was the best deal possible!
    Thanks Mel

  32. Serious fuzzy thank you's to olorin19 from:

    GretchenCarlson (02-25-2021)

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