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Where the Cambium Meets the Road - Chinchillas Lanigera to the Rescue
Dan Kelly, Canton, MO

Rick and Sue Riedlinger moved to Louisiana in 2002 from the Virgin Islands where they had lived on a 30 foot sailboat and worked as yacht delivery captains. Shortly after buying a house near New Orleans, they went through Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath, they were given their first chinchilla to care for, a male named ‘Speedy’ from the home of an evacuated family. Speedy was soon joined by ‘C See’, another chin deserted in the aftermath of Katrina. By the fall of 2007, NOLA Chinchilla Rescue started to deal with the numbers of chinchillas being surrendered.  (New Orleans, LA thus NOLA)

The rescue is a private foster-based organization dedicated to the well-being of pet chinchillas. Its purposes are to educate new owners on maintaining a healthy and high quality home for their chinchillas, to provide a way station for re-homing unwanted chinchillas and to provide an emergency rescue service for chinchillas in the Gulf South region.

I met Rick by answering an e-mail in 2011.  Rick told me about his Rescue work ( and he wanted to pay money for certified organic apple wood for his gnawing ‘chin’ rodents. (Teeth here are a bigger deal!) Winter is a busy time for me in the orchard, pruning of course, so I don’t have time to do much other than that. I tell Rick he can have all the apple wood if he came up and got it, which he did. And in exchange he brought us 5 pounds of fresh shrimp.

I have time to think about all sorts of things while winter apple pruning. And as I worked while harvesting wood for the Rescue, came up with the idea of a having a Chinchilla Rescue Fund Raiser. Because I like Rick as an example for a passion and dedication to do good and thought he deserved support.

Change is inevitable. NOLA has expanded and began serving more Chin Folk, so time became more necessary to attend to the needs of the Rescue. Movement of the apple wood to the ‘Big ‘Easy’ had to be modified. I loaded up my pick-up truck once and met Rick in Memphis Tennessee. But our arrangement has again changed. Our Certified Organic applewood is now bundled, dropped off at a terminal and shipped FedEx.

Here an Opportunity exists for Certified growers among us. The Rescue is wanting to purchase Apple and Pear wood water sprouts. Rick is also interested in trying Kiwi and Pecan wood, to see if the C. lanigera  would be interested. Basically, Rick is interested in: Pear, Pecan and Kiwi wood any size under 1/2 inch thick. Applewood is preferred at about 1/4 inch thick and about 18 inches long. A box  (18X20X24) should hold about 50 pounds. See more of what he’s looking for at

The wood should NOT have: copper (fall applied), insect damage or bark damage(scrapes etc.) The wood must be the previous season growth i.e. 2020 pruning must be 2019 growth.

In the past, the NOLA Chinchilla Rescue has offered between $4 and $4.50 a pound. For potential vendors, a 1-2 pound sample is requested.  In my experience, Rick is good to work with, as long as the grower can present quality.

Check out the above websites for contact information and refer to this article when talking with Rick!

About the Author

OFGA President Dan Kelly has planted his orchard in 1990 with twelve varieties of semi-standard and semi-dwarf apple trees on 5 acres.  The orchard features a line of on-farm processed certified organic apple butter, apple sauce, apple syrup, apple cider, apple cider vinegars, apple fruit leather, and Applewood-Smoked Fire-Roasted Jalapenos. Dan and his wife Cherie Sampson also have an acre of certified organic vegetables.

Contact us if you have questions for Dan!

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