Archive for Monday, July 10, 2000

Racoons create a racket at our house

Jest for Grins

July 10, 2000


My husband Ray did it again! Set off the burglar alarm when he opened a
door to the deck to confront the raccoon making a meal of the birds'
sunflower seeds. Armed with a dustmop, clothed solely in the rosy flush of
interrupted sleep and limping on his left leg because of a cramp in his
thigh, he threw open the door and sent the raccoon scrambling when the
siren began its mournful wail.

Utilizing the mop as a crutch, he headed for the alarm box to shut it off,
giving me a dirty look as he limped past the kitchen counter where I was
doubled over in helpless laughter. Let's see . . . how many times have I
had to explain to the security company that the alarm was set off in this
manner? THREE! But who's counting?

You have to wonder how the raccoon explained his hasty departure from the
deck when he got back home. "Have you ever heard that guy scream when he
opens the door? What a set of lungs he must have!"

"I heard him last year," says another coon sympathetically. "Scared me
out of three years' growth and turned the black mask around my eyes pure

If only raccoons weren't so darned cute, you could kill 'em! And if only
the traps Ray uses to catch them and transport them out of our territory
weren't so darned ugly! I work and work trying to make the deck look nice.
Chairs, tablebut no umbrella (too windy on our hill)and lots of potted
flowers adorn the deck, while one big ugly trap, baited with cake, spoils
the whole scene.

Oddly enough, the coons haven't attempted to dine on the fish in the water
garden. You'd think they'd delight in that captive link in the food chain,
but our coons must be vegetarians. Only a neighborhood cat has shown
interest in a diet of goldfish, whilethankfullyexhibiting no enthusiasm
in going for a swim in order to indulge that interest. Oh, yeah, and that
darn snake, now pushing up daisies, who serially-killed some of our fish
and frogs. For the moment at least, Ray and I are fairly confident that
the fish and frogs are safe from every creature but grandson Gabe.

Speaking of predators, the other day I saw a red-tailed hawk sitting on
the deck railing. The hawk obviously was not a practicing vegetarian
seeking birdseed, so I could only assume that he was waiting for the female
cardinal that attacks our windows to knock herself out and become his
helpless victim. And I had to ask myself: would I try to rescue her sorry
unconscious carcass from a bird of prey with talons the length and
sharpness of pitchfork tines? Probably, although I might first take time
to set the security alarm before heading out the door.

Some of the cutest animals viewed from our deck aren't wild at all, but
are Vic's and LaDonna's domesticated black Angus calves which frolic in the
pasture behind our home. I'm pretty sure that the individual who coined
the word "frolic" had to be watching baby calves when the word came to
mind. Likewise the words "gambol," "cavort" and "romp." The cows are fun
to watch, too, especially when they follow the hay wagon in winterthey're
real easy to see in the snowin a long drawn-out line. But it is the small
ebony calves who give me the most pleasure and hold my attention longest.
Ray's, too, even though as a farm boy he was partial to the little white
faces of Hereford calves.

Earlier this spring, Ray glanced out the window and saw a tiny heifer
crawl under the fence and sprint across our back lawn. Vic rolled under
the fence in pursuit of her and by the time Ray got out the door to head
her off, she had vanished without a trace. The calf's owners searched for
her until dark and, at sunrise, were happily relieved to find her back on
their side of the fence contentedly nursing her mother.

When Ray and I built our home in the country, some of our neighbors who
are engaged in agricultural pursuits worried that the lowing of cattle,
braying of donkeys and trumpeting of swans (yes, swans) would cause us city
folk to complain. Not likely. The critters were here first. And,
besides, nary calf nor coon has registered a complaint about our siren
going off in the wee hours of the morning.

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