Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

It’s On.

Posted on | August 17, 2011 | 6 Comments

It happens on occasion.  A predator stumbles upon our farm and discovers that:

1.  There is a plastic container of dog food kept on the deck.

2.  Bruno, the livestock guardian, is confined to the barn yard and pastures.  He cannot reach the deck.

3. The ferocious German shepherds and Rottweiler usually patrolling the deck and back yard are in the house at night, guarding the couch.

4.  So the only one left guarding the dog food is Little Bit.  And the only scary thing about Little Bit is the way he twines around your legs in the morning when you’re carrying a full bucket of milk back from the barn.

Well, that and the kneading when he’s sitting in your lap.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.

It’s a recipe for disaster.  Or least a prime opportunity for dog food theft.

It’s not hard to know when you’ve been hit.  These are the tell-tale signs:

Which means it’s time to break the Havahart trap out of the shed.  Havaharts are excellent for catching the typical raccoon, opossum, or skunk that passes through our area.  They are easy to set and not particularly dangerous to use.  Unless, of course you catch the previously mentioned skunk.  But in this case, I guessed it was a raccoon.  Raccoons have dexterous hands and when you see doors opened, instead of chewed through, they’re usually the culprit.  And this raccoon was a bit more clever than most.

I set the trap next to the dog food and put in a cracked egg as bait.  Raccoons adore eggs and will often forgo killing a duck or hen if she’s setting on a nest.  Instead, they will gorge themselves on the eggs.  Too bad this critter passed on the egg and simply filled up on dog food.  He even tore the door entirely off its hinges during his feast.

The following night, he still avoided the trap and, this time, tipped over the entire container.

This made me suspect our critter had brought a few friends and held a dog food orgy.  Except for one thing.  Over by the water fountain on the deck was a solitary set of wet prints, fading quickly in the morning sun.

So.  It was a raccoon.  A wily one.  And he appeared to be acting alone.

Little suggested we just start keeping the dog food in the pantry inside the house.  That kid is real practical.  But he has no fighting spirit.  Middle suggested we attach his pocket knife to the inside of the cage.  With the blade angled just right the raccoon could enter the cage, but would impale himself on his way out.  That kid is going to make some branch of the U.S. military very happy one day.

We compromised.  I carried the food container into the family room for the night.  Then we reset the trap.  The next morning we found that we had caught the neighbor’s cat.  Jeez.  Why does it have to be the cat belonging to the neighbor who carries a shotgun.  To get the mail.

The morning after that we found this in the trap:

Sigh.  There’s a surprising lack of team effort around this place.

Eventually I got tired of stubbing my toe on the dog food container and put it back outside.  But this time I tied it closed with some telephone extension cord I had laying around (I know, I know.  Creative, but odd at the same time.).  I woke up to this:

Really?  Really???!!!!  Spring the trap without getting caught.  Push up the telephone cord.  And then…and then…you are not going to believe this….

Dip your little paws in the the egg yolk and leave tracks all over the deck.  They are so clear you can even see them in the above picture.  And here’s a better shot by the deck stairs:

Those aren’t accidental footprints.  That’s a signature.  A calling card.  Just what kind of freaky raccoon am I dealing with here?

(Also someone please let the Other Half know it’s time to resink the nails on the deck.  I mean, look at that.  If I didn’t have ogre feet from constantly walking around barefoot and wearing flip flops until December that would kill to walk on.)

Al’right, raccoon.  It’s on.  I’ve got a college degree.  8 years experience in farming.  And have even been known to outsmart a toddler before.  I will catch you.  When I do, we’ll take a nice long walk to the pond together.  But only one of us is walking back.  Capice?

Bring it.

Comments

6 Responses to “It’s On.”

  1. Jennifer
    August 17th, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    Too funny! Hope you catch whatever it is! The footprint looks super imposed or you may be dealing with a monsterous raccoon. You need to call Billy the Exterminator. And if you don’t know who he is: http://www.aetv.com/billy-the-exterminator/ We love him in our household. Yes we’re rednecks! 🙂

  2. Jill
    August 18th, 2011 @ 6:38 am

    Nail that nail down… 🙂

  3. Farmer Sharon
    August 18th, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    Stevie,
    I got tired of cleaning up the dog food the “whatevers” got into, so I got a metal garbage can and just used bungee cords to keep the top on——works Great!! The only problem for you would be that then you wouldn’t have any of your great stories to tell 🙂

  4. Cheryl
    August 18th, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    Thanks for the lift this evening. Your stories always make me feel better. Lover your humor. (so much like mine)

  5. Liz (Vic Aust.)
    August 18th, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    Does a pond walk mean you will let the culprit loose????
    We have native possums (marsupials) that occasionaly get moved on

  6. lisa d
    August 19th, 2011 @ 10:08 am

    I do love a good competition….

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