Tree shopping has always been one of my favorite holiday traditions. I used to be so eager to go get our Christmas tree every year because we always got real trees. This means we had to wait until about two weeks before Christmas or else it would start to dry out.
A few years ago my mom rescued an owl. It was a little screech with a broken wing. She wasn’t sure how to help this little guy, so she researched our area and found a woman near us who takes in wild animals and rehabilitates them (legally of course). She brought the little screech to her and sure enough, after a few weeks, he was able to be released into the wild again.
Since then, my mom stayed in contact with her. My mom has also held numerous fundraisers for the owner and her animals. The owner’s name is Cindy and she takes in many wild forrest animals. If they are unable to be released into the wild, she holds onto them and has them in extremely large cages. Cindy also runs a Christmas tree farm, so now each year we get our tree from her and visit all of her silly creatures.
Cindy always tries to release the animals she takes in. That is her main goal. She even leaves food out in a special place so when she releases the animal, it knows it can come back to get food there if it is unable to fend for itself. It is unfortunate when she gets animals that are unable to be released, but it is pretty neat when we go get our tree to say hello to Harry the great horned owl, or Harry Potter, the snowy owl who cannot fly. This year, she took in a full grown bald eagle that is unable to fly and will not be able to go back into the wild.
Cindy has taken in crazy animals, even a bear! She’s had geese in her bathtub, a bear in her back yard, a panther as well, but my personal favorite to visit are the deer. The bear and panther have been released, so I never got to meet them; however, she does have these deer that are just the funniest creatures. They were domesticated when she found them and she rescued them. Unfortunately, they are VERY domesticated and cannot be released into the wild. They come to humans like dogs. I look forward to getting our tree every year from Cindy now, just to see and feed the deer!
Her animals are quite the stars. Her little screech (not the one we rescued) has been on the cover of a home department store magazine. I forget which one. Possibly HomeGoods, but I’m not sure. Her falcon was also starred in a Budweiser commercial for “dilly dilly.” The falcon still gets income. The awkward moment when a bird is making more money you are…
My mother and I have an extensive history of taking in injured wild animals and helping them heal. Around this time last year, my mom found a young red squirrel that had been hit by a truck, twice, up by her cabin. She watched it get run over and lose it’s tail, yet it was still alive. She rescued him and named him Rocky. He had a broken jaw, missing tail, broken feet, and she thought he lost an eye in December when she found him.
He always cuddled up with my mom in her lap while she watched tv. He ate peanut butter and jam from the little plastic packages you can find on the table at diners. After a few months, he was eating berries, nuts, and seeds, or his favorite – cheerios! His eye healed, his jaw healed, and so did his little paw. Eventually, he was a free-range squirrel in my house. He stayed with us for SEVEN months. We didn’t want to release him during winter because he would not have had food stored. He never chewed on any cords or anything, just pooed here and there around the house. He mostly slept in the coffee table and was hibernating so really slept for like 21 hours a day.. honestly.
My mom took a test to legally own him, but by the time she passed the test, it was springtime and she let Rocky outside to get some air and he never returned. We still see him from time to time hopping around the neighbors yard. It isn’t difficult to spot him because he is a red squirrel and we don’t have any around my house – he was initially found at the cabin.
I don’t remember why Cindy couldn’t take him. We tried but for some reason she couldn’t. I think she didn’t have room. Either way, he healed with us and then the day after he was released.. I brought home a baby goose that couldn’t walk.
Unfortunately, little goose did not make it. He passed away a few hours later. I think that’s why the mama left him.
ANYWAY… that was sad, let’s get back to festive.
This year I wanted to bring Connor to meet the deer. So we visted Cindy and got our tree, said hello to the owls, and fed the deer. It hadn’t snowed in weeks, but there is somehow always snow at Cindy’s. It always feels magical going there. The snow was fresh and glistening. The trees were all dusted in a sugar-coating of white. She had a large bonfire going to huddle by and keep warm while her family helps trim trees. You can smell the balsam from nearly anywhere you stand. Like one of those handcrafted soy candles you pay $17 for, but better. This is a Christmas tradition that will never get old.