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Batty bats at 1:15AM

[August 5, 2011] We were sound asleep when the “intruder” alarm suddenly went off this morning – jolted awake by the high pitched siren outside our bedroom wall; strobe light on the house for emergency personnel to locate us quickly, plus the subsequent phone call from the monitoring company.

The security system agent was asking whether to dispatch the authorities, but we soon realized that it wasn’t a motion detector in the house that triggered the alarm but rather our shipping building. Since the outside lights were now on and there was no exterior evidence of foul play, we suspected an alarm malfunction; Dianna stayed on the line while Bob did a perimeter check. There have been alarm breakdowns before over the past 10+ years but this was the only time it affected a single structure.

The 72’ building used for processing orders has Dianna’s art studio at one end, the bins and shipping line in the middle and the far end on the right houses box storage, packaging equipment and one of the bulb coolers. No windows were broken; no doors were open and Bob wondered if an animal was trapped inside because he could hear a slight “scratching sound” at the door near the keypad. Oh great, is “Edward” the neighbor cat, locked in and panicking? Or was it something bigger? In the middle of the night it’s easy to imagine everything from Coyotes, to Cougars to Bears – Oh my!

Standing to the side, Bob gingerly unlocked and pushed open the door while quickly flipping on the bank of lights; circling overhead was a bat doing Figure 8’s near the motion detector – which had been the only source of light in the building. The poor confused thing immediately flew outside and Bob stepped inside to disarm the system.

Can you imagine the mirth when it was related to the alarm company that it was only a trapped bat?

Our large 12’ tall sliding barn doors next to the cooler are not tightly sealed and apparently have “bat sized” slots where the little guy must have squeezed in and was attracted to the red light on the motion detector within the main part of the structure. This morning we still do not know if there might be more hiding in the rafters because Bob turned off the alarm for the night, so we need to do a rafter and loft check this afternoon before closing up the building just in case Mr. Bat has friends.

Benefits of bats in the garden: They eat LOTS of insects – about their body weight each night, plus bat guano fertilizer is high in nutrients. Although we have three irrigation ponds and a salmon spawning stream running through our farm, between the multitude of barn swallows and cliff swallows during the day and the bat population at night, we rarely are bitten by mosquitoes.

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