Natural treason

Farm and Dairy file photo.

There I was, laying in bed and listening to a rustling in the ceiling above me. For the record, my bedroom is not on the top floor of our home. I am not listening to something on the roof. I am listening to something between the floor and the ceiling of the room above me.

Twenty years ago I would have found that alarming. Now that just feels like any old morning.


I am not what you call outdoorsy. I am indoorsy.

I do not like anything remotely “wilderness-like.” I like to live firmly on the grid with the floor underneath me, roof above me, heat, AC and lots and lots of clean running water in the temperature of my choosing.

I am not routinely found gamboling about the wilderness bothering the wildlife. Why then is it so hard for wildlife to return the favor? To get it through their furry little skulls that we are not currently seeking roommates? It’s always the furred and feathered ones that have boundary issues.

I have yet to have a fish sneak into my house.

Last week I was minding my own business, drinking some coffee, and thinking that one of my friends just couldn’t rest another minute until I sent her a photo of a section of my yard and pestered her with questions about landscaping. I was just zooming in for a close-up of a particularly unattractive patch of dirt when I heard a tremendous “boom!”

I stood, wide-eyed as a bright flash of fire and puff of smoke burst from a power pole in our back pasture. In that split second, I watched what I believe to have once been a small brown squirrel flung cartwheel, still smoking, across the bright blue sky.

I just stood there, dumbfounded. I then walked into my now very quiet electricity-free home. Dialing the 1-800 number to report an electrical outage, I was hit with a fit of giggles. There is just no saying “so then the squirrel went flying by and the goats were plum scared!” without sounding like a Clampett.

It cannot be done. By the time I explained about securing the dogs, and that you have to secure the gate because goats are sneaky, I just know he was saying “rednecks on line one.”


I figured the power would be out for the day. It happens. It was sunny and mild. I had errands to run. I could probably tough it out with my limited pioneering skills. Meaning: I was going to leave and go somewhere that had electricity.

Apparently, I underestimated the response to one fried squirrel. THREE power company trucks and one tree trimming service were dispatched to our home within the hour. I was becoming very concerned. I began to suspect there was more to this than a squirrel on a power line. There were almost nine utility workers in my yard.

I’ve seen the “Erin Brockovich” movie. Was there something they weren’t telling me? I certainly hoped not. I feel like having Ms. Brockovich show up is never a good sign for your property values.

The crew leader, upon arriving, was dumbfounded as they often are. This used to be a huge commercial orchard, so we have power poles and transformers and three-phase something or other running around our property.

Today, I produce columns and children, so they are often caught off guard when they get here and see what appears to be Thomas Alva Edison’s original work in our back pasture. Still, they bravely traipse out past the goats to the pole where the squirrel went toward the light. Literally.

One friend opined that maybe he was a superhero kind of squirrel. Like Rocky from Bullwinkle? Maybe his cape got caught on something? You have to find the humor in this sort of situation and I have some very funny friends.

I prefer to think the squirrel was a spy. He (or she) was sent ahead to scout out defenses. Sometimes one must sacrifice for the mission.

My editor, ever alert for breaking news, sent me notice that in another locale squirrels, working as team, shut down county government offices after they went toward the light on a power pole in a busy downtown area.

Not only did they impact county government, but they put a popular bagel bakery at risk. This treason shall not stand.

The utility technician, assessing the situation, assured me that mine was not the first act of sabotage that day. It seemed a bird had taken out power to thousands of residents in a nearby community.

Coincidence? I think not.

Do you know what this means? They have infiltrated our homes, our properties and government offices. With strong bird involvement, they apparently have an air force, too.

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