Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pa Rock's Flying Squirrels

by Pa Rock
Friend to Animals

One of the funniest and yet most sophisticated television shows of my youth was the weekly Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, a very tongue-in-cheek story of a flying squirrel, Rocky, who played straight man to a goofball and philosophical moose by the name of Bullwinkle.  And yes, I heard a raft of jokes and comments about a flying squirrel sharing my name.

Up until I was in my early thirties, I was not sure that flying squirrels even existed in real life.  I had certainly never encountered on in the wild.  Then one evening in the early 1980's there was suddenly pandemonium at our house in Noel, a place we rented temporarily that was located on a wooded hillside.   A varmint had gotten into the house, probably through the unused fireplace, and was running amok.  Our neighbor, Larry Coffee, a school teacher and a bit of a naturalist, came when summoned and caught the berserk creature in a laundry basked.  Upon close examination, Larry told us that it was a flying squirrel - one that we soon released back into the wooded outdoors.

That was thirty years ago.  Yesterday I had my second encounter with a flying squirrel - or possibly two.

The back story is this:  A couple of weeks ago a huge, seemingly healthy, tree limb broke loose from one of the massive oaks that rule over my backyard.   The limb didn't completely fall at first, but was left dangling and weighing down a power line that crosses the yard taking electricity to the outbuildings.  I managed to get the lower branches on the limb trimmed off using an electric saw (wish I had a chainsaw - but that will come), and the power line was free - with the remainder of the big limb hanging above it.  The rest of the limb, of course, fell during the next storm, again dragging the line down.  After getting the big limb cut up (again with the electric saw) and carried off to the brush pile under which one independent-thinking chicken likes to lay her daily egg, the power line was still annoyingly close to the ground.  (I had to limbo beneath it as I mowed this week.)

I had two choices - either put up a pole to hold the line aloft (an expensive and time-consuming proposition), or cut another branch out of the same tree - a maneuver that would leave an ideal fork along the tree trunk that would cradle the line securely.  I chose option two.  My son and his stepson managed to get the limb cut out, and when it fell, not only did it drag the wire down even further, it also knocked down an old barn-board birdhouse that I had mounted on that tree trunk last spring.  We left the birdhouse sitting on the ground next to the tree, and when I drove off to town later for some supplies, I asked Jake, Nick's stepson, to re-attach it to the tree.

I returned a half-hour later and saw that Jake had the birdhouse up, but it wasn't positioned exactly like I wanted it.  Jake said that he had been interrupted in his efforts when a pair of angry flying squirrels had scampered out of the box and up the tree.  Later in the afternoon I set about repositioning the birdhouse - with the assumption that if the flying squirrels had run off, and it would be empty.  It wasn't!

As I was pulling the birdhouse from the tree, a furry little fellow rushed out the box and shot up the tree.    The top of the house had been knocked loose, so I took a quick peek inside.  The little home was about half-filled with a large ball of what appeared to be finely shredded wood - not much thicker than human hair.   It gave the place a cozy feel.  A few minutes later as I was trying to hammer the box back on the tree, one of the flying squirrels came down the tree trunk, nose first, and got right up to the box to watch what I was doing.  I could have easily reached out and picked it up.

I didn't see the little flying squirrel move back into its quarters, but with the amount of patience that it exhibited yesterday with the jostling about of its home, I am quite certain that the little fellow and its mate are settled back into their comfy digs ready to eat hickory nuts and snuggle through the long Ozark winter.

Hopefully they won't be bothered by Bullwinkle or any of his friends!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hokey Smoke!