Rick sent a note.

After reading my epistle regarding my grandparent’s pear tree, he had two questions.

He asked how my grandparents prevented squirrels from getting all the fruit.

They owned well-mannered dogs that patrolled the place, keeping it cleared of anything that might challenge their sovereignty or, in their opinion, should be there.

They owned a long line of near-identical mutts, and every other one was named “Skippy.” They were similar in looks and demeanor.

It seemed my grandmother owned the oldest dog on earth but it was just an old name and renewed dog.

Skippy was congenial, didn’t bother baby chicks and was protective of bird’s nests. She had a fit over babies of any kind, human in particular, wanting to lick the human scent off them.

Their dogs weren’t fed in the early morning so there was no reason for them to bunch up at the kitchen door, shoving at the screen or looking pitiful.

My grandfather reasoned that if fed early they’d go off for a nap, but if their stomachs were empty they’d hunt a little, not that they’d catch anything.

It must have worked because when the squirrels came out for their morning pear scavenge, the dogs were growling and barking like the television ads for injury lawyers.

My grandmother is the only woman I’ve known who used a slingshot. She wasn’t accurate but close is close enough for squirrels. Trespassing dogs nosing around while her dogs napped under the grape arbor were easier targets.

I have a loaded pear tree but the only pears I get are green ones. Squirrels get the rest.

We don’t have dogs; we have cats. Dogs require constant care and attention; cats don’t. If we are gone a couple of days the cats are no worse off and don’t seem to miss us.

Second, Rick wanted to know why I didn’t root cuttings from the tree and pass them around.

I’ve tried that and have yet to be successful.

My former neighbor had an over-producing apple tree.

This spring I took cuttings from his tree and watched videos on how to root cuttings. By June there wasn’t a hair root on any of them, not one.

While chatting with an expert during the Hydrangea Festival, she told me that I had done some things right, just at the wrong time.

I’ll need to go back to my old neighbor’s house and snip off the ends of some limbs and try it all again when the time is right.

But there is still the matter of the squirrels.

Cats are no help there either.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphillips@hotmail.com.