Homeland Farm

Homeland Farm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mutual of Omaha Presents Wild Kingdom-Live from Homeland Farm

       A couple blogs ago, I wrote about the animals that surround Homeland Farm with an appetite for my chickens. Tonight, I move on to the "not so aggressive" animals. However, they can still cause some excitement when you find them around the house. Especially at night. When you are wearing a granny nightgown. I'll explain.
       One night several years ago, in my "pre-cliffy" days, I was sitting at my computer in a nook off the living room, where Cameron and Brogan were watching TV. Liam was just a young fella, and was in bed asleep. I suddenly heard a THUMP from the living room area, followed by a weird scratching, scraping sound. I looked out at Brogan, who had apparently heard it at the same time. "What was that?" she asked me.
        I walked out into the living room, and listened. Nothing. "I don't know what it was..which direction did it come from?" I asked. "I'm not sure" said Brogan, as we both stood in the middle of the room, listening. Suddenly, another muffled thump, scrape scrape....We both turned and looked at the wood stove at the end of the room. It was in the early fall, so it wasn't yet lit.
We slowly walked toward it, and stopped about three feet away, listening.
      Another bump, and we knew it. There was something IN the stove. I uttered my usual "Crap! Now what do we do?? What do you think it is??"
Brogan said she had no idea. Cameron said "How are we going to get whatever it is out?" I said " Do we even WANT to get whatever it is out??"
We deliberated the pros and cons of leaving it in there, calling friends and relatives to help get it out, tossed around the idea of calling a wildlife control person, and then finally I said " Enough is enough. We can get whatever it is out of there!"
      "Brogan, open the doors and look inside..see what it is." I ordered in my best I'M HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD voice. "What??? Why me?" she asked. To which I reassured her, "I will be RIGHT behind you, don't worry." Now Cameron, who I think has been gifted with an elevated sense of perception, went out and stood far from the stove, living room and family. He was taking NO chances. Brogan gathered her tools together..broom, dustpan, large trashcan, deep bowl and gloves. I grabbed a flashlight and tucked it into the pocket of my "animal control" wear, my granny nightie. It was after all, past 7 pm..what else would I be wearing.
      We went to the double doors on the front of the stove and listened, as we made our guesses as to what in God's name had fallen down our chimney...Raccoon? no, didn't sound that big.. Bird? no, was too heavy..Santa? Piped up young Cam.. no, too early in the year. Brogan asked for her trash can, which she promptly stood in. I was starting to think perhaps a nightie was NOT the best option if she was worried about something grabbing or even biting her legs. I was pondering a change of clothes, when she slowly opened up one door.
      "Flashlight!" she whispered. I passed it to her.."See anything??" I asked.
"No," she whispered. "Careful!" I whispered back, "go slow!" she shone the light inside the stove, and there was nothing to be seen. "What the heck?" she said. "Where is it??" She opened both doors wide, and we couldn't see anything, just some ashes from where my housekeeper hadn't emptied out the stove. Oh wait, Head of Household, that's right. I made a mental note to clean it out, one of these days.
      "It has to be in there," I said. "Stick your head in and look around." Brogan always loves it when I say something like that. She usually repeats it back to me actually..."STICK MY HEAD IN?" she asked, kind of loudly I thought. "Well, yeah..maybe it left," I said, explaining my actions. "We can't see it. Where else could it be." She shot me a look of "I can't believe I am doing this", and slowly leaned into the stove, shining her flashlight all around. It was then that she hollered and slammed the front doors." I saw it! It is sitting up on the shelf thing in there!" "What is it? Could you tell?" I asked her. "No," she said," but it was looking at me, I saw eyes before I slammed the door."
      "Well, get your bowl, we have to catch it," I said. I was thinking it was a mouse, or God forbid, a rat or something. We were soon to find out. She opened the door again, and it was ready. A good sized brown animal careened out of the stove, past the screaming females and tore across the room to hide under the chair. Bro had jumped from her trashcan to the couch, and I had hiked my Granny nightgown up as high as a CAN CAN dancer. And we were both hollering like maniacs. No wonder the thing took off like a shot. Cameron could be heard hollering "what is it?" from the safety of the dining room.
      "What was it?? Could you tell?" I asked Brogan, who was peering off the couch. "No, I couldn't see it went so fast," she said. "Well, it is under that chair..I think it must be a mouse." I said. "That is some BIG mouse", Brogan exclaimed. "Well, we won't know until we look," I bravely said. She got down off the couch, and I grabbed the broom, and passed her the bowl with careful instructions to drop the bowl over it, should we get a chance. We slowly walked to the chair and started to slide it out from the wall. The little bugger ran under the couch and popped out across the room, hiding  behind the stove. "Did you see it?? What is it? "I asked yet again. "I couldn't tell because it went so fast," Brogan replied.
      I hatched a new plan. I would stay at one end of the room with a small trashcan, while Brogan went across the living room to the stove and flushed it out with the broom. When it ran to me, I would catch it with my trashcan. It had to work, right?
      Brogan walked back to the stove and slid the broom in behind the creature, and my plan worked. The furry animal ran out from behind the stove, and then it seemed time slowed to a crawl. It was like I was living in a slow motion world. I saw the animal run out, and then it spotted the Giant Sequoia in the room and headed straight toward it, seemingly in slow motion. In 4 leaps it covered the length of the living room. Then, it reached said Giant Sequoia, that would be me, and in three leaps had jumped up on my nightgown, landing first at my knees, then my waist, then my chest and finally it launched off the middle of my face, sailing across the room toward Brogan, who stood statue still, mouth hanging open. It was indeed, a very cute flying squirrel. As it landed on the window sill, and then dropped down behind the stove, gales of laughter erupted as Brogan and I realized what had just happened. The best part? The little bugger had left sooty paw prints on my nose and cheeks when it launched off my face. I swear this is true. Honestly, how many people can say they have had a flying squirrel climb their nightgown, and launch off their face? NOT MANY. In fact, I'd like to meet another one. When we realized it wasn't a nasty rat or mouse or rabid snake( another idea we had kicked around earlier), we made quick work of catching it in the small trash can. Then Cameron, Brogan and I took it back outside to the old Maple tree and let it loose. It scampered up the tree, no worse for wear. That was one funny experience.
     Which reminds me of another funny moment I greatly enjoyed. I was sitting in my new office in our big barn, working at my computer when I heard our cat Muffinhead meowing outside my door. I opened the door from my chair, and there she sat, a dead bat at her feet. She went to pick up her "treasure" to bring in the house, and I said "Oh no you don't" and slammed the door. I hate bats. I know they do a lot of good for the area, keeping the bug supply down and all, but they freak me out. I wasn't positive it was dead, so I figured it should be checked out. I don't like it when cats play with their victims, even if it is a bat. So, being as I am the Bridgton version of  "Marlon Perkins", I thought I'd have the Bridgton version of "Jim" check it out.
     Since I was still sitting at my computer, I sent Brogan a message in a chat box on Facebook. "Can you come out here? It is an Emergency."
     She typed back, " How big of an emergency can it be when you are two rooms away and could have hollered to me? I typed "Oh, but it is...Come out here." Thirty second later she walks into my office.."Yes??" she asked me. "Muffinhead has a bat outside the door. You need to check and see if it is dead," I said. "Eww, I don't want to touch it, " she replied, to which I said, "Hey, your the animal advocate and rescuer. It is one of God's creatures, you need to see if it is dead or not." With a heavy sigh and kind of a dirty look, she flipped up the hood of her sweatshirt,  and opened the door. Muffinhead strolled inside, leaving her victim laying silently on its back in the middle of my welcome mat.
     "Ohh, it's dead," she said. "Well," I said, "can you at least take it outside and dump it off my welcome mat." A dead bat to me, is not a very welcoming sight. She picked up the mat and took it to the back barn door, bent over low and gave it a shake, trying to dislodge the bat. I would gladly give my last dollar to have had what happened next videotaped.
     As she shook the mat, holding the bat, killed by the cat, (Now that's funny, I don't care who you are..) she flipped the bat off and onto its belly on the ground. That is the moment the bat opened it's eyes, spread out it's wings, let out a little bat screech and flew right up at Brogan, who was bent down over it still holding the mat. I sat in my office chair and watched out my picture window as Brogan dropped the mat, yanked her hoodie tight on her head, turned and ran shrieking the whole length of the barn, bat flying after her in hot pursuit. She ran until she reached the laundry room door, yanked it open, and slammed it behind her. She was screaming so loudly, that Cliff came running out from the living room, and Cameron even emerged from his upstairs bedroom to see what disaster had just occurred. I was unable to explain anything, as I was laughing so hard I couldn't speak and was afraid to move, should I pee my pants. The vision of her hoodie pulled down tight against her head, her eyes closed and mouth open as she ran by the window with that bat chasing her is one I can still see in my minds eye. Kind of reminded me of a scene from "Barnabus Collins", but she didn't remember that show so my attempt at humoring her was lost at that point in time. So, I just congratulated her on saving one of "God's creatures", and she said she was never going to answer another "Emergency" email again. I think it was shortly after this that she moved to Portland.....
 

       
A cute summer visitor
Coming closer..
Luna checking out the baby

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