Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trapping raccoons

Beyond Control

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The lesson I am being given the opportunity to absorb this week involves the concept of accepting things that are beyond my control. I can lure a raccoon to my trap but I can’t force it to step inside.

That’s one version. There is another that is having a much greater impact on my sensibilities. We just learned that the 20-acre plot adjacent to ours along the northern length was sold by foreclosure this month.

So many questions. How come we failed to discover anything about the situation in advance?

I have subsequently stumbled onto a document that reveals the judgment of foreclosure was entered in early April. The notice of foreclosure sale was drafted in May. The public auction sale at the front entrance of the Pierce County Courthouse was scheduled for July 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Did the property sell?

Who might the new owner(s) be?

Might they plan to build a home on the otherwise forested and cultivated acres?

Could we be at risk of losing our precious natural forest boundary that provides a priceless level of privacy?

I have half-seriously pondered many times how special it would be to purchase the forested acres that surround our rectangle of land on two sides, but never imagined it would be feasible.

To find out now that there was an opportunity I failed to notice is something of a gut punch.

If it was purchased successfully, what happens next is largely out of my control.

I’ll imagine that the new owners will strive to drive off the fox that we think lives in those woods and will be prudent about controlling the raccoon population that probably includes the smart one who seems to know all too well to not fall for my baiting tricks.

If they decide to build a house, I will visualize it being located up on the high ground where I’m sure the cultivated fields offer many prime options. That would be well out of sight from our house so that we wouldn’t be a bother to them, you know.

I plan to do more sleuthing to learn if the sale was recorded, and when/where details were, or will be, made public.

I have no idea what the lag time might be for land record details to be posted online, but nothing new is currently showing at the online land records portal on the county web site.

Meanwhile, a third thing that is now painfully obvious for being out of my control is wild predation on our attempts to free range chickens. I do believe, certainly based on our opinions as of last night, we are done trying. Around dinner time, we lost 22 of our 25 birds.

Sorry, David.

Since Cyndie said this time she has had it for good, I suggested we give you the three survivors.

She said, “They won’t last that long.”

I can’t argue with that assessment.

She did say that you can take our bags of chicken feed, variety of feeders, and multiple waterers.

I’ve seen her change her mind before, but this time I am ready to lobby strongly that she not start over another time.

However, history reveals this as another thing that is beyond my control: Countering her amazing ability to recover enough to regain her glimmer of hope after the immediate pain of the loss eventually eases.

For now, it feels like neither of us wants to repeat this highly unsettling routine one more time.

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Trapping Failures

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I thought it would be easy. We watched for a couple of weeks while a pest company trapped eleven raccoons just beyond the net fencing around our chicken coop. I monitored the location with my trail camera and was present to witness how they baited their traps. We provided our trap for their use to increase the chances and it snagged at least one of the eleven, so I know it works.

Since that time, there have been more occasions when it didn’t trip than when it did. One time, a wandering cat cleaned up all the bait without pulling the trigger on the hatch.

Two nights in a row, we overlooked turning the camera back on, losing the chance to see who has been stopping by. Well, one of those nights this cat did trip the latch and got itself trapped, but I didn’t get to see when, or how, or whether any other critters came along before or after.

On Sunday night there wasn’t a single overnight event to trigger the camera. Seems strange to me, except that it successfully captured two pictures of me closing the coop just after I turned it on for the night. After that, nothing.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie reported evidence of lots of shenanigans around the coop overnight. When I got home from work and checked the memory card, there were 83 images throughout the night. The adult and juvenile raccoon were back after days of not seeing them.

Unfortunately, I had not set out the trap for them. It had been relocated to the hay shed where a woodchuck/groundhog has been making daily appearances.

It’s a lot like a game of Whack-a-Mole.

But if I didn’t have any trapping failures, it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding when we finally do enjoy a little random success.

Meanwhile, we heard a lone coyote howling just after sunset the other night.

Aahhh, country life.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Shelter Choices

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Around dinner time yesterday, we experienced a brief but oh-so-welcome rain shower that provided a glimpse of the choices our horses make. I had finished my mowing and manure management chores and was headed back up to the house when it started to sprinkle. The two chestnuts, Mia and Light, were happily grazing in the middle of the big paddock.

Cyndie had left the two split pieces of poop board out on the grass to be cleaned now that we can resume using the one-piece board again after removing the divider in the coop. When I came upon her tending to the vegetable garden, I mentioned they aren’t waterproof. As the rain intensified, I decided to go back down right away and put them in the barn.

When I arrived, I noticed the chestnuts had disappeared. I looked toward the back pasture but didn’t see them. I was curious whether they would stand out in the rain or seek shelter.

From inside the barn, I looked out to find Swings and Mix under the overhang, but not Mia or Light. Where did they go?

I stepped out under the overhang and found my answer:

They’re not so dumb. Even in its gradually dying condition, the fading willow tree provides shelter from the rain.

In comparison, Mix was standing half under the overhang, leaving her butt out to get wet and Swings chose to stay completely dry, standing all the way under the roof while munching on some hay.

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For some unexpected reason, there was no raccoon activity evident overnight Monday. I’m wondering if they caught on that the traps lead to disappearances and are staying away for the time being, but that must take some strong willpower given the sweet marshmallow bait being offered up.

In their first night together in the undivided coop, the Rockettes and Buffalo birds appeared to get along just fine. Our timing to merge them seems good. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to tell the difference of who’s who between the two groups, as the difference in their sizes is much less obvious.

Here’s hoping their relationships continue to develop smoothly and they all get along as well as the horses have been, at least until the cockerels’ testosterone kicks into gear and the roosters all try to fulfill their desires of becoming the big man on campus.

At that point, Cyndie and I will likely be the ones choosing the best places to seek shelter.

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2021 at 6:00 am

Several Things

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First of all, while I was on the bike trip, Cyndie contacted pest removal professionals to get rid of the raccoons that have made themselves so at home around here lately. Thus far, three have been captured and two remain at large.

Traps are set and baited in hope of getting the last of them.

Yesterday morning, while Cyndie was tending to the chicks, one of the Rockettes got outside of the fencing. In its tizzy to get back on the safe side of the netting, it found an opening that the raccoons had made the night before. The thing was, though, the opening was to the Buffalo gals/guy side of our divider.

Cyndie decided that was enough excuse to open the barrier and merge the two broods a little sooner than we had planned.

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It ended up being a kerfuffle-free mixer-upper. The older Buffalo brood had already scoured their courtyard free of any green growth but the Rockettes hadn’t, so the big draw was grass. There were some occasional knowing rearrangements and relocations of proximity by each group that showed they are keenly aware of who is or isn’t a member of each brood, but just as many moments when they behaved with obliviousness about each other.

Later in the day, I was trying to get the grass cut before predicted afternoon rain showers showed up. Just as I was nearing the usual point where I stop and refuel, there was a new gust of wind that ushered in much cooler air. Dark clouds were rolling in and some sprinkles started to fall.

I needed to park the lawn tractor in the shop garage with haste so I could hustle over to the deck on the backside of the house to fetch my tent before it got soaked by real raindrops. I had set it up there to sweep it clean and let it dry in the sun.

This is what I found when I arrived:

Oops. That gust I felt had picked up the tent and tossed it over the grill and dropped it upside down into the landscape pond. So much for drying it out.

Now the tent is airing out in the garage at the house.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2021 at 6:00 am