I saw a video on Facebook. It shows a raccoon playing with the family dogs. And I have seen others like it, such as the rolly- polly raccoon somersaulting down the hallway of a house, or licking the ears of a cat.
Please do not read any further if you do not like sad stories and death. But, first, a little background. I was very naïve when we first moved here. I was raised in the city, in southern California, and had very little contact with wild life. Spotting wild animals was always exciting! Then… I saw the arms of the vet tech that tried to restrain her pet raccoon-they were deeply torn with scratches, clear up to her neck. A friend of my boys found a baby raccoon, took it home and kept it in his bedroom, as a pet. When it became sexually mature, it tore out the window framing to get outside, and tore the whole room up. I saw dogs that were tore up bad from a run in with a raccoon. And, then, my chickens. The local raccoons systematically killed my whole flock of laying hens. (We did not have the secure hen house that I have now, and I am still very diligent about closing the hens in every night.) The joke around here was that the ‘coons would come around whenever they wanted a chicken dinner, but it was really no joke. It was time for something to be done so I called the boys to me and told them it was time for them to learn to trap ‘coons. And trap ‘coons they did! It was quite a learning process for them, but they learned. They purchased the items necessary to trap, made fish oil bait-(don’t ask!), got the necessary licenses, and learned what they needed to know. They trapped up and down the creek, and other places as well. They sold the raccoon pelts. (This was the time of life when we ended up with a blue tick coon hound, that one day became an old coon hound, but that is a story for another time! There is no dog as sweet as an old coon hound!) It seemed like they had trapped all the ‘coons in the area, which was fine by me. My tune had changed from ‘how cute!’ to, ‘the only good ‘coon is a dead ‘coon!” Isn’t it interesting how a person’s perspective changes when reality is clear? I had seen how destructive and vicious raccoons are. And what pesky varmits they can be. We have not had any trouble with raccoons for a long time, until these last few weeks. I always try to be observant, and notice any changes around me-Is anything disturbed on the back porch? How are the cats acting? Does it look like anything else is eating their food? How does the dog act when she goes out? I can usually tell if something has been around the house by watching her actions. And then, I began to see evidence of raccoons. A banana, set on the back porch because it was drawing fruit flies-nicely peeled and eaten. Left over corn that wasn’t needed for the meal, nicely husked and the corn eaten. The cat food all gone, night after night. And I knew we had resident ‘coons again, making nightly rounds to see what there was to eat. So, we had a little discussion, Dan and Aaron and I, about how we could get rid of the ‘coons. Now, you need to understand some thing-Dan is always ready to hunt (kill) animals….he always has been, and always will be. I don’t think he can help it. The hunter instinct is just in some males. It is like that is what they are wired to do. It is something I will never understand. But Aaron and I are different-we both hate to kill things and love animals. So, this is a hard thing. It was decided to use the cat food bag as the bait-a no brainer, since that is what the ‘coons were coming in for. The ‘coons were coming in night after night, eating the bait food, but the problem was that neither Dan or I were waking up when they were around. Raccoons are nocturnal, and whenever we would get up in the night, we would look out the window to try and spot them. We would see nothing, and then all of a sudden, the bag would be moved, and we would have been sleeping. So, Aaron devised this little alarm system. And this is what he used. See if you can follow what he rigged up. The bag of cat food was set on top of the cut-off milk jug, holding it down. There was a sewing thread tied onto the milk jug. This thread was run up to our second story bathroom window, which had the screen removed. The thread then ran across the bathroom, across the hall and dangled over the doorknob to our bedroom. Tied on the end of the thread was the metal clamp, used as a weight. Laying on the floor, below the metal clamp, was a pile of pie plates. The idea was, that if the bag of cat food moved off the jug, the weight of the clamp would pull the jug up that was tied to the string, and the clamp would drop onto the pie plates, making a clatter, waking us up. Got that? It took Aaron about 15 minutes to rig this up. We went to bed that night very carefully, to not disturb the thread. Would it work? Well, I slept sitting up in my chair. I sleep with a C-pap machine, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t hear the pie plates if they clanged in the night over the noise of my machine. But, sure enough, at about 3:00 AM, the jug moved, the clamp dropped and clanged onto the pie plates, and it woke me up. It did not wake Dan, but all I had to do was speak to him, and he jumped out of bed (remember-the willing hunter?) Waiting in the bedroom next to the bathroom was the shotgun and shells, with that window also open and the screen removed. When I peeked out, what a surprise, to see not one, but two, very fat raccoons eating the cat food. This last picture is the sad one. I do not like to kill animals, but sometimes that is what has to happen. It is just the way it is, the way of life. I am sorry, raccoons, that you had to die. And for those of you who are wondering, no we did not eat them! Deer, yes, raccoons, no. And I will rest a little easier, knowing these raccoons are no more, and that my chickens are safer. I went out and looked at them when they were dead, saw the sharp teeth and sharp claws and remembered what damage they could do.
“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me:
thy mercy, O LORD, endureth forever:
forsake not the works of thine own hands.”