EARTHFIRE STORIES

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Her sleek, incredibly agile body stretches to the limit in her reach for the bottle, for sustenance, for Life. Nugget, an orphaned 5-week old squirrel, wriggles and chitters in rage. It is the wrong nipple! Nothing is coming out! Her communication across species is crystal clear. She is not happy. Realizing my mistake, I change to another nipple with a larger hole. After a suspicious few sucks and initial satisfaction, she settles down to that lovely, even rhythm true to babies of all species; eyes closed, paws gripping and releasing; gripping and releasing, in rhythmic bliss. This, is heaven. This, is the whole universe....

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — First, let it be known that the bears here at Earthfire eat extremely healthy food — buckets and buckets of fresh fruits and vegetables and a bit of high grade dog food to be sure all bases are covered. But every now and then we all need treats. Two wonderful guests asked what they could bring and we said … six cherry pies, one for each bear, with whipped cream. If you are going to do it you might as well do it right! The pies they brought were Marie Callender cherry pies (actually five cherry pies and one berry) which had to be cooked 55 to 65 minutes at 400 degrees to make sure they were properly flaky. (Major Bear in particular appreciates a flaky...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Jean flung the door to the office cabin open in great agitation. “We’re out of water! Call the Water Master!” (It was Sunday afternoon - unlikely to be effective). I asked mildly why we needed to call the Water Master. “Because he just put in a big irrigation system and he is stealing our water! How can you be so calm! I can’t wash the animals or water the trees in all this heat! And I can’t take a shower!” We are on well water, and like old western movies about range wars, there are still ongoing fights about water rights in this high mountain desert. There is little that riles up ranchers more than water rights. In the morning, without...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — August 1, 2017 A sweet young volunteer, Gwen, came into the office walking softly, her hands cupped together in front of her ever so gently, holding something apparently very delicate and precious.  It was a baby bird. She had seen it tumble off our roof from under the gable onto the ground. She rushed to pick it up. It was still alive. It was far too young to survive out of the nest, having just sprouted a few tufts of feathers sticking out in ungainly fashion from its naked pink skin.  It was a baby sparrow. Left to Right: Baby sparrow just fallen off roof, baby sparrow in hand | Photo by Earthfire Here was a golden opportunity for Gwen,...

-- by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. -- I was driving to town the other day to run errands. I was almost there when I suddenly felt a strange movement and weight on the top of my right thigh. I looked down and thought, “That is a large mouse.” Then I realized it wasn’t a mouse at all. It was an ermine.* We have had a family on the property for years. They have never caused any trouble with our chickens or eggs, and we peaceably coexisted, though once one ill-advisedly attached itself to the back of the foot of one of our ducks. We take great delight in seeing their lithe forms darting across the property. We don’t keep domestic cats because of their preying on birds and other small animals...

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