Thursday, August 5

Thursday Dose of Cute: You Never Know What You'll Find Inside a Feed Bin

Flying Squirrel in the Feed Bin
Flying Squirrel, Anyone?

Down in the sheep barn feed room, we've been slowly replacing our plastic feed containers with metal ones, because mice and squirrels tend to chew big holes right through the plastic in order to get to the food, thus pretty much ruining them, although I have successfully plugged some pretty good sized holes with duct tape. (Our entire lives are held together with duct tape—along with clothespins and bungee cords.)

Galvanized metal trash cans work well for storing feed because they don't rust (or in theory at least—I have a bunch of stainless steel stuff that keeps rusting in this humidity), the lids fit on nice and tight, they aren't real expensive, and each one will conveniently hold three 50-pound sacks of grain.

During the winter when we're
feeding the organic square bales of hay we put up each year, and as year round bribes treats, we feed the sheep and donkeys all natural oats, wheat, and alfalfa pellets, mixed with granulated molasses we also buy in 50-pound sacks, along with various minerals and supplements. We store all of this in down in the feed room.

Several years ago, our chickens began refusing to eat the corn that was mixed into the bags of hen scratch we fed them, and soon after that we stoped giving any corn to the animals, because these days it's all GMO (genetically modified), and we don't believe genetically modified food (which abounds on supermarket shelves but isn't labeled as such) is safe for them or for the environment—or for us. Besides, they obviously don't like the taste of it.

For some reason, when our new sheep barn was first built last fall , we had such a serious squirrel problem that we bought a big roll of high dollar chicken wire that we planned to run over the top of the walls to create a squirrel proof ceiling. (Have you priced that stuff lately? It's ridiculous.)

Every time I opened the feed room door some blasted squirrel would scare the bejeezus out of me as it scrambled up and over the feedroom the wall, raced across the high support beams of the barn, and then disappeared outside, with an overexcited
Lucky Buddy Bear always hot on its trail, but never quite agile enough to catch it. (Bear, who is half Australian Shepherd and half English Shepherd, did manage to catch a squirrel once several years ago while we were walking up on the ridge above the farm, but as soon as he had the poor dead thing clenched between his jaws, he didn't have the faintest idea what to do with it.)

Fortunately the squirrels quit coming around the feed room so we never installed the chicken wire, which we didn't really want to do anyway because it would have just ended up becoming a big dusty mess.

So anyway, the other day I opened the lid of one of the metal bins, looked inside, and then stood there for several seconds staring down and wondering why and how a gerbil and a feather got in there with the oats.

Then I put the lid back on, went up to the house and found Joe, asked him if Missouri had any wild gerbils that he knew of (I've seen maybe one gerbil in my life and have always been sort of fascinated with them since they were outlawed in California when I was growing up), and dragged him down to the barn to show him my trapped discovery.

"Flying squirrel," he said, as he bent over and kept unsuccessfully trying to scoop it into a small bucket, the plastic lid to a 5-gallon bucket in his other hand, ready to be slapped into place as a cover.

"And it can really jump!" At that point it jumped right out of the feed bin, leaped onto the wall, scampered between a narrow space between the wood and the cool old stone base wall we'd left in place during the construction demolition, and disappeared. Joe looked annoyed. I was busy trying to get a better look at the flying squirrel in action.

"Hey, at least it's out of the feed room." I have no idea where he was planning to relocate it if he did get it into the bucket.

I saw the flying squirrel a couple of more times, though as far as I know it never made it back into any of the feed bins. I still have no idea how it got into this one in the first place, since the lid was still on when I found it. I also wish I'd had a chance to see it fly. Or maybe not.

We live in the wild surrounded by critters and creatures!
10/17/06: Garden Life

© 2010, the flying foodie farm blog where life is full of little mysteries and lots of hungry mouths.


  1. Wow, awesome!! I would be thrilled to see a flying squirrel in nature, though I very much understand the battle of pests in the animal feed too.

  2. You have great photos of little creatures. I've never heard of a flying squirrel let alone seen a picture of one.

    Thanks for the education.

  3. Reminds me of the time I found an adorable field mouse in the cracked corn bin next to the chicken feed (like, a million years ago, before all this GMO junk). I was very proud of myself for "rescuing" it by putting a stick into the bin so it could run out. My dad? Not so proud, he sorta thought I should have killed it (yeah, like THAT would ever happen).

    I've never seen a flying squirrel, so I'm glad you got a picture. Oh, and the word verification thing must know I'm on a farming blog b/c it's "twanq", which is very close to "twang" which we all know is iconic country music :) I hope you are continuing to heal up and feel better day by day!

  4. That is the cutest thing! I don't think I've ever seen a photo of one not in "flight." And I was one of the CA children fascinated by and deprived of a gerbil, too.... My mom wouldn't let me have a turtle, either, because they carry salmonella (she's a dietitian).

  5. I think I would've crapped my pants if I lifted the lid and found that.

  6. You didn't see a moose playing look out for him did you.
    The picture is great and he or she is really cute.

  7. I'm surprised it could move, it looks rather well fed to me, at least it wouldn't have starved in there.

  8. Yeah, you probably wouldn't want to see it fly, as odds are it would have flown right into your face and given you a heart attack.

    I've had more than enough heart skips due to unexpected animals in places they don't belong. I'm looking at you, BATS IN MY WASHING MACHINE AIEEEEE!

  9. Great photo! We have an abundance of them here in the Catskills. They kind of glide when they fly. We had one in the cabin a couple of years ago-I was lying on the sofa and saw it peeking over the curtains at me and screamed bloody murder. My dog went absolutely nuts. The next half hour was complete mayhem-everyone in the household manned tennis rackets, brooms, fishing nets and tried to herd it outside as it ran (over my bare feet AGGGGGH!) and then glided from ceiling to floor, with the dog in mad pursuit. Too funny. Although cute, they are VERY DESTRUCTIVE CHEWERS and breed like rabbits.

  10. Wow! Lovely post, you sound like your old self again. :-) A nice wild surprise for a change! XX

  11. So glad you are feeling better, can't wait for more farm pics... I'm curious though and stuck on the whole gerbils being outlawed... what does California have against Gerbils?

  12. Only two words: Cairn Terrier! Their DNA has a circular figure with the picture of a rodent (whatever) with a red line parallel across it. They are goal directed and tenacious. Not meant for the suburbs. Mine is named Dorothy but her secret name is Slash-and-Burn. I shudder to think of the day she is no longer a rat-virgin.

  13. So cute, but such a pain. We get them in our attic and they make their way into the house. Or into the walls - the WORST. They chewed through a drain pipe (sewer) trying to escape from between the walls. Created a leak and entire pile of remains. Yeah, they didn't make it out. It was the grossest. thing. ever.

  14. Cute, we have chipmonks. Haven't see flying squirrels. Our cats are hunters. They keep most critters beat out of the barn with the exception of coons and possums.

  15. I thought it was a gerbil with a feather too. ha! Great picture!

  16. That's so weird it would be in there with the lid shut. Like someone was setting you up!

  17. Oh my goodness! I've never seen a flying squirrel but when my sister-in-law and her family first moved out to British Columbia, they moved into a house that had been empty for a while and the very first night, a flying squirrel came well, flying through their house and scared them to death! My sister-in-law just saw a furry body fly by and thought it was some type of ginormous bat and was totally freaking out!


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