Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘raccoons

Stinky Year

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Look at it this way, today it is the fifteenth day of July, so we are halfway through the month that comes after the midpoint of the year 2020. All this whining about 2020 being so problematic will be over before you know it. We can stop wondering about what the next calamity could possibly be and start marveling over how we got this far without throwing in the towel.

Unless you happen to have school-age children, that is, and have no idea how to cope with more distance learning in the fall. Or if you got sick with the coronavirus. Or you are out of work due to the pandemic. Or lost your medical insurance because you no longer have a job. Or you can’t pay your bills because you didn’t qualify for financial assistance.

In the wee hours before waking yesterday, I experienced the most vivid dream where I found myself in the midst of my high school classmates in something of a reunion gathering. I am curious about what threw my mind into that reconnection with my school days. In classic dream fashion, by daylight, I lost the gist of what I was thinking and feeling about the situation while the dream was underway, but was left with the vague pleasure of having been among peers I haven’t seen lately.

Maybe it’s a mental defense mechanism for escaping the shelter-in-place mindset of the pandemic.

Cyndie has been up at the lake for the last two days and she took Delilah with her. It has been refreshingly calm at home on my own after the day-job. The cat and the chickens don’t ask for much from me, so it has felt like a little vacation.

Of course, the pesky wildlife hasn’t taken any time off. For two nights in a row, I found our kitchen compost bin had been abused and separate access panels forced open so they could ravage the rotting goods. Last night, I wrapped it with a ratcheted tie-down strap to secure the doors from opening.

Let’s see the little raccoon claws loosen a ratchet mechanism.

Yesterday morning on the drive to work, a young-looking fox trotted across the road just around the corner from our property. Luckily for us, that enemy-of-hens was headed in the direction of a neighboring property where egg-layers roam freely.

Later, as my car approached a fresh road-kill, I centered my tires to miss the mess and held my breath. Before I even started to resume breathing, I felt the acrid fumes in my nostrils. I was afraid to inhale, but I had to.

Fresh skunk. Reeeally fresh. Ow.

At least 2020 is over halfway to the history books. The whole year seems to have a general stink to it.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

This Happened

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In the realm of pictures being worth a thousand words, I can provide two pictures that clearly depict two things that happened yesterday afternoon.

We had a couple of visitors. One welcome, the other, not so much.

The hay fields were cut and a couple of young raccoons were out and about on a daytime explore that brought them into close proximity to Cyndie and her dog down by the labyrinth.

All sorts of activity around us in the midst of sheltering in place from rising numbers of cases of COVID-19 being reported.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2020 at 9:42 am

Two Tidbits

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Two morsels from yesterday evening make today’s report, both thanks to Cyndie who contributed the images.

The person renting our fields for cutting and baling hay showed up to fertilize the acres. I sure hope the weather gives him a fighting chance this summer to get some decent bales out of his efforts.

Last year, despite his humble attempts, there were never enough consecutive dry days to achieve much success. He ended up rolling wet hay after the first cut, and only baled a fraction of his second cut after the first frost.

When Cyndie made her way down to the coop at dusk, she found evidence of an intruding prowler.

That plastic container was inside the coop earlier in the afternoon. Cyndie discovered it chewed through and outside on the ground. There were no eggs in the nest box, either, but it wasn’t clear if this just happened to be a day when the two active layers both took a break, or not.

Right now, the australorp is broody and not laying. She spent the day yesterday in the broody-breaker cage.

I’m guessing one of the local raccoons is doing some daytime foraging.

So, there you have two glimpses of our life on the edge of real farming. If I wasn’t so distracted by the day-job lately, maybe I’d devise some plot to persuade the masked bandits to leave us alone. Permanently.

Not that we don’t love wildlife and all. It’s just that we like our chickens and home-laid eggs more.

 

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

Wild Interlopers

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Lately, for some yet-to-be-determined reason, we have been experiencing a distinct increase in uninvited wild visitors, some of whom seem interested in establishing residency. Some of them are cute and for the most part harmless, like the five young deer Cyndie spotted grazing in the back pasture last night.

Some are, unfortunately, all too familiar, like the mice and bats that Pequenita seems to view as mere house playmates for her ongoing enjoyment.

There are, as noted in two other recent posts, a family of raccoons and a suspected woodchuck making their presence known in broad daylight on separate occasions.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie sent me a picture looking out the egress window of the basement bedroom revealing a large mound of soil tossed up by one of several possible burrowing pests.

I’m leaning toward the woodchuck, based on the size of the excavation.

When I got home to see for myself, there were two frogs peering in the window from the top of the pile, and a mole napping off to the side.

My adventurous spirit is at a low ebb and I am struggling to muster any interest whatsoever in addressing even one of these wild animal pests, let alone all of them. Sadly, neglecting to deal with them now offers nothing but greater complications later. I’d rather not admit that it crossed my mind that we could simply sell the place, as is, and let the buyers deal with the pests.

Or, we could throw money at the problem and hopefully find a professional who is genuinely interested in tackling the challenges. I wonder if it would be possible to trap both a woodchuck and some raccoons at the same time?

I will happily watch the critters be driven down our driveway and off into the sunset for relocation at some magical forest that is over 25 miles away from everywhere, where all pest control companies release their captives to live out pesky lives in blissful harmony.

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Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2019 at 6:00 am

Cute Nuisances

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They sure look cute. All three of them, according to Cyndie’s eyewitness account, peering down at her from the great oak tree right outside our front door. I only count two in this photo she sent me yesterday while I was too far away at work to do anything about them.

I suppose I could have thrown a shoe up toward their general direction.

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If there are three young ones up there, logic suggests there is at least one parent also loitering in the vicinity. I’m happy to have so much wildlife wandering around, but we’d rather not have them choosing to reside so close to our home.

The way people around here deal with this kind of thing usually involves firearms, which we are more comfortable not keeping and bearing, regardless of any amendments.

Next choice, live trap, which involves transporting to a distance from which they won’t return at a location they are welcome.

Last choice, which we used when a mama raccoon had babies in the hay shed, pay painfully large sums of our hard-earned dollars to have someone solve the problem for us.

Out of sight, out of mind, out of cash.

As of this morning, I (we) have gone with my tried and true method of making no decision yet, while allowing time to provide a shove toward some solution the universe prefers. We left home and drove up to the lake for Labor Day weekend, taking Delilah with us.

Maddie, our most recent summer animal-care provider, is stopping by to tend to chickens and feed Pequenita while we are away.

Cyndie warned her to close the coop promptly at dusk and keep an eye out for the little masked bandits.

We’ll see what time brings.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2019 at 7:58 am

Little Help

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We moved a lot of hay bales over the weekend, but in so doing, came upon a little surprise. Unexpected company had taken up residence in the hay shed.

What I thought to be the squealing of baby bunnies turned out to be raccoons. One of our customers spotted the mama moving around after we took the bales from over her nest site. We decided to seek assistance from a wildlife removal professional.

By the time the pest control guy arrived, all was quiet in the shed. We had no proof that the critters were still in there, but he said they had probably just gone back to sleep.

There was no sign of them in the spot where we first heard them, but I knew where to look next, because Delilah had showed me. Earlier, when the mama must have moved her babies, they resumed their squeaking frustration. Delilah and I just happened to be walking up the driveway at that time and she heard their cries through the back wall of the shed.

The intensity of her response to the sounds included her attempting to dig through rocks after them. That provided a precise location to present to our new wildlife assistant.

He was so close to a textbook capture. Inches. One inch, actually. I saw it. There was the tiniest hitch as our guy tried to pull the snare loop closed around the mama raccoon, and that’s all she needed to step all the way through it. Then the game was on.

She climbed up to the rafters. She skittered back and forth. Eventually, she made a huge airborne leap to escape the shed. Too bad for her, she chose to seek cover in the immediately adjacent culvert. Her options shifted entirely in our favor.

With a cage trap on one end of the culvert, we used a little water pressure from the other end to inspire her to move into it. The babies were a little easier to contain, although they were much older that expected, all five of them.

The pest control service comes with a guarantee they will relocate the evicted wildlife over 25 miles away.

Problem solved, …thanks to a little help.

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Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

Daytime Sighting

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Our dog, Delilah, has so many episodes of freaking out over something she sees or hears through our doors and windows that we have grown numb to her outbursts. It is rare that I bother looking anymore to see what squirrel/rabbit/bird is triggering her tizzy.

Of course, there was the time last summer when we finally checked and discovered she was barking about that group of 10 cows that had found their way up near our bedroom window. Her reaction that time was totally justified.

Last night, we were up in the loft when she revved up over something she spotted in the back yard through the French doors. Since I had a similar view without needing to get up, I turned to check it out.

There was a raccoon sauntering across our yard in broad daylight, unfortunately, directly toward the chicken coop. I rushed down to track its path and was able to see it climb up a large tree and disappear, high up inside the main trunk. Just a short distance further ahead, the chickens were calmly combing the deep leaves on the ground among the trees.

Our chicken coop, when buttoned up for the night, is well secured against raccoon intrusion. Regular readers may recall we got duped by a possum that snuck inside during the day and killed one of our hens over night after we shut the door at sunset.

Now we check all the nooks when we count the chickens and close the door for the night. The usual evening report used to simply list the number of hens secured, but now it always includes the affirmation of the coop being predator-free, as well.

Unfortunately, since we have chosen to free-range our chickens, they are easy prey during daylight hours. One reason a raccoon will be out during the daytime (other than maybe being sick with rabies or dysentery) is because of hunger. That is not a good omen in such close proximity to where our chickens hang out.

I tossed a treat of dried mealworms in the pan of feed yesterday afternoon.

It was a BIG hit. They came after me looking for more:

We collected seven new home-laid eggs yesterday.

At least the hens are putting those worms to good use.

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Soaking Wet

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A flood watch has been issued for a wide area around us through Wednesday because they are expecting we could receive between three or four inches of rain. It’s not that big a deal except, we are already saturated beyond belief. There was an inch in the rain gauge when I got home from work yesterday.

The trails are like soup and the drainage ditch is flowing like a spring melt.

At least our trees are going to be well hydrated heading into winter this year. That’s a bonus I’ll be happy to take.

I don’t think it’s rain that is bothering the raccoon that has become a permanent fixture in the grass beside our north loop trail.

We are leaving it alone because we aren’t sure if the problems it seems to be having might be related to rabies. There is an outside chance it was hit by a car and made its way from the road to that spot, but we are keeping our distance and letting nature take its course, regardless.

The first time we took notice was because it was out and about during the day. It was walking, although not in a completely normal way, and never moving very far away from that area on our property. After three days of seeing it out during the day, we surmised it was not healthy and started giving it a wide berth.

We are careful to keep Delilah on a very short leash because she is very interested in checking out the mysterious visitor.

I’m half hoping some other nocturnal predator might show up to carry the raccoon away so I don’t have to deal with it. If it stays in sight, I’m eventually going to need to check to verify it is no longer living. I’m under the assumption it will not suddenly recover, based on what I’ve witnessed thus far.

I’d like to relocate the body far from our trails so Delilah will no longer be tempted to investigate.

While researching to find out if our local authorities would want us to report possible rabies in wildlife, Cyndie came upon an announcement from September that reported a dead crow was found to have West Nile Virus in our county.

The concerns all seem to focus on actually being bitten, either by a mosquito or a rabid animal. We didn’t come across anything that indicated concern for the possibility of sick animals or a need to report on them.

Maybe all the rain will wash away any germs.

I bet that giant crayfish Cyndie saw a few weeks ago is pretty happy with the moisture. Do crayfish get rabies?

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2018 at 6:00 am