Friday, June 3, 2011
The Owl[lets] and the [Scaredy]cat
I wouldn't say that I necessarily have a "fear" of heights (as in a serious phobia). With that being said, I don't rock climb, I don't BASE jump, and I pretty much use common sense and stay away from the edge of high structures (tall buildings, bridges, cliffs, rooftops, etc.). However, I am afraid of falling. Isn't that what clever people always say? "I'm not afraid of heights, I'm just afraid of falling from them." Perhaps my fear of falling is a result of the fact that I'm an equestrian (no explanation needed here). It most likely also stems from the fact that -- occasionally -- I am rather clumsy and could be considered my own-worst-enemy at the best of times. All of these considerations collect together on a daily basis to help me gauge situations and judge what is "best" for me to do/not do in order to pay respect to Darwin's "Theory of Natural Selection" and ward off unnecessary harm to myself. But, when given the chance to see a nest full of baby barn owls......why, yes, I did climb about 40 feet up a handmade wooden ladder nailed to the side of a barn into the rafters, then "tightrope" walk on a 2x4 to the center of the loft (over nothing but wide-open space straight to the ground below) to peek into an owl box. I've never seen baby barn owls before, so I figured I better take the chance when I had the opportunity. Plus, I just love baby birds, so of course I had to see them.
My hay guy, Buddy, is a real lover of wildlife and his hay barn is on about 50 acres at the base of House Mountain in East Knoxville. There are always deer, rabbits, hawks, bluebirds, etc., out and about when I go to his place to get a load of hay. He built 2 owl boxes in the top of his barn and this is the first time in several years that an owl has raised her little ones there. He has been checking on them regularly and charting their progress, as well as making plans to clean and maintain the boxes so another owl will be back for next spring. I have been getting hay from Buddy for about 4 or 5 years now, so I know him pretty well and I'm sure he knew I couldn't resist checking out the owl boxes. As his athletic and lithe 15-year-old son clamored up the ladder ahead of me, I'm sure that Buddy probably questioned his decision to encourage me to "climb up and see them, too," when I was looming about 20 feet over his head and clinging precariously to the side of the hay loft. It wasn't so much the going up that worried me.....as much as did the getting back down. But, all's well that ends well, I guess, and I have lived to climb (or not) another day.
(You'll have to excuse the chatter in the video. I am always horrified to hear my voice in recordings. But, there's nothing I can do about the Southern accent. I am from Tennessee, y'all!)