I recently found two baby squirrels under a tree in our backyard. One was no longer alive but one was.
I immediately called in animal rescuer Rachel. She had recently rescued a baby squirrel in a friend’s backyard making her the resident squirrel expert.She brought it inside and began the process of rehabilitation and posted on Facebook: What is it about my house that screams to animals, “An animal lover lives here!!!! You should stop by!!!”Today I found yet another baby squirrel, this time in my backyard. Thankfully, I got her before Bella did. Here’s to saving the world, one orphaned baby squirrel at a time!
Next she contacted her friend who had taken in the other baby squirrel. The friend was having to take care of an orphaned calf and was not able to take in another squirrel. So Rachel researched the best formula options and began feeding the squirrel with a syringe.
She named it Alexandra and it seemed to revive. Then it started wheezing and sneezing. Thus began the search for remedies for sick squirrels. She treated Alexandra and we hoped for the best.
It was touch and go for a couple of days then Alex seemed to turn the corner and began to improve. Before long she was holding her tail up and developing quite a personality.
She got comfortable with Beekeeper Brian and did what all babies do – fell asleep on his chest.
Alex needed a safe place to stay so Rachel got the extra dog kennel and put rags in it. Alex seemed happy – especially when she was getting her bottle.
Then one day she started growling at Rachel. I didn’t know squirrels could growl. Alexandra was apparently no long enamored with her life in captivity. Now what? She was still too little to set free.
Rio Grande County Sheriff Brian Norton gave the all clear for residents of South Fork to return to their homes, but because the fire was ACTIVE, we’d remain under in pre-evacuation status.
If we chose to return, we should leave our cars packed and backed into our driveways ready to pull out again on a moment’s notice. The shelter would remain open for those who did not wish to return.
Buster and Toby thought we’d moved permanently to the motel in Monte Vista. They’d climb in the car with us and wait patiently while we took our meals at the shelter for evacuees.
Undecided about what to do, after the Friday update, we made the trip to South Fork to check on our house. Smoke greeted us.
Heavy, mask-wearing smoke.
We left the dogs in the car and did a preliminary inspection. On the hill behind the house, we found a firebreak created by the firefighters.
The blank path is the firebreak.
We also realized how many trees and how much dead vegetation we had around our house.
Wouldn’t the wise thing be to stay where we were until the fire was more contained?
We took the dogs and went inside. Once we opened the front door, both dogs rushed to sniff around familiar surroundings. Toby jumped on our bed and watched as we discussed what to do.
After eight days in hotel rooms, the place seemed huge. With the windows closed, there was no smoke indoors. We had plenty of room to walk around. A kitchen to prepare healthy meals. Our own bed and pillows.
We decided to wait until after the a.m. briefing on Saturday and make our decision.
But once we returned to the motel, to living out of our suitcase in a cramped space, we knew we’d go home no matter what the report said the next day.
We arrived home around noon Saturday, June 29th, nine days after we’d been told to evacuate. The smoke had lifted some.
By Sunday morning, all smoke had lifted. The dogs and I went on our usual five-mile walk. I was amazed at how normal things looked. You’d never know behind the mountain peak beyond our house nearly 60,000 acres of the West Fork Fire burned.
We were glad we’d come home.
Then just to remind us who was in control, lightning struck a tree two streets away and caused a small fire.
A scary sign that, while we might have a roaring inferno behind us, a small lightning strike could start a closer fire.
For two weeks, we kept one car packed with what we wanted to save. The other car ready to be loaded with our clothes, food, and dogs when (if) the next evacuation call came.
Smoke came and went. Aviation planes flew overhead dropping retardant and water buckets, weather permitting.
Now the July monsoons have arrived. The fire crews are shrinking. Few planes are flying.
Yesterday containment was up to 66%.
Today a Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team arrived to begin their initial assessments of the after effects and develop a strategy for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.