Bat in a Shoebox

For me, one of the most bizarre things that happened at All Around Farm was the day Sue called to me and asked me to come up to the apartment when we finished throwing hay to the horses and filling their water buckets.  It was a sunny spring afternoon, and I climbed the steps thinking about all the things that had to be done to get ready for tomorrow’s horse show competition. Some horses still needed a bath, tack had to be cleaned, and a few grooming boxes packed. Braiding and bandaging wouldn’t happen until the wee hours of the next day.

The apartment above the stables was very spacious: a kitchen, office, bathroom, two bedrooms, long hallway, large livingroom, and a room beyond with a bar area. Sue Scales lived there as the business manager. Richard Fennelly also loved there. He was the stable manager.   All Around Farm had been at one time, one of the most prestigious show barns on the East Coast; in fact, it had international acclaim.  Once the barn for a large summer estate, during World War II, it had been used to store fancy cars. In 1957 Milton Kulp, Jr. (Junie) established All Around Farm. The 19th century barn had a wash stall, six large box stalls in the garage, a main aisle with a brick walkway and about nine big stalls, a section four with four stalls, and an outside stall facing the driveway circle. A large tack room, sitting area where trunks were also stored, and a bathroom with a shower were also part of the garage area.

On this day when I got to the top of the steps and opened the door, Sue motioned to follow her into the livingroom. There, hanging from a sheer wall, was a sleeping bat. I went back downstairs to get Mr. Joe Beily, the father of one of my riding pupils.  Joe came upstairs and asked for a shoebox. He cut the corners of the lid in a way to flatten it.  I took off my shoes and climber onto the ledge of the couch.  Mr. Beily handed me the shoebox. I was close enough to touch the bat. It was amazing how she could hang on that wall, and also amazing that she hadn’t awakened. Next, he handed me the lid which I slowly slid under the box. I heard a faint rustling, and then the bat was trapped inside the box!

Joe helped me down, and we walked to the back room where a porch and stairs led to the outside. Joe opened the door for me and we walked to the porch railing. I sat the box on the ledge, dramatically opened the lid, and nothing happened. We waited and waited some more. I was beginning to think, “Is the bat really inside this box?”   So, rather foolishly, I started to lean over the railing to look inside. Just then, the bat made its move. I would have fallen over the railing to the driveway below if Joe Beily had not grabbed me and pulled me back!  The bat flew off into some trees, unhurt but probably somewhat confused. 

So it was Joe Beily who really saved the day, but I got to be within inches of a bat!  That is my “Bat in a Shoebox” story.  It really happened!  Since then, I have often thought about putting up a bat box in the backyard. Bats are wonderful for the environment, and they eat lots of insects including mosquitoes. I think these days, everybody needs a bat or two!  Maybe this summer I will do some research and actually put up a bat home with my husband’s help!

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