Raccoon Road

Our neighbor stops in his bumpersticker’d Ford pickup truck.  He’s coming home after planting signs for his local political candidate.  He’s in his late 60s, he laughs a lot, he likes to talk about critters, and he is a Minuteman, guarding the border.  “Howdy, Neighbor,” he says.

“How’s it goin’?” the Bearded One says.

“Oh, you know,” says Minuteman, looking wistfully down our dirt road — itself once the subject of politics and majority rule (pavers vs. non-pavers). “Politics these days is a Rat Race.”

“I completely agree,” I say.  Minuteman and I are in opposite political camps, but we often agree, and when it comes to local issues, we’re both non-pavers.  A dirt road is good for the rural soul.

There are no cars coming, so Ruby, aka Elder Dog, decides once again that she is retired from commands.  She’s well into her 70s in human years.  She stands up out of the required sit (a transition to going mobile…) and the Bearded One makes her sit again.

Talk turns to the raccoon invasion.  “I got that newspaper article you emailed me,” I say, referring to the raccoon story of the week where a local woman was attacked by a pack of raccoons as she walked her dog.  She was hospitalized briefly.  A crazy, rare occurrence.  Scary.

Minuteman shakes his head.  “We’ve trapped and released 6 or 7 of them,” he says.  “They’re after the hens’ eggs.”

The Bearded One and I both picture our flock of 5-week-old meat birds, which any raccoon would love to eat.  We’ve lost just one this week, to the standard mystery sickness.  All the rest — 26 — are still spry.  They are big and heavy like grown egg layers already.

5-week-old Cornish Rock meat chickens.

I say,”I saw the picture on your Facebook wall,” and Minuteman laughs, “Yeah, last night we trapped somebody’s cat.”

A car is coming, so he waves good-bye.  Then we talk to the neighbor in the oncoming car about her 5 feral cats and how she fears that she is feeding the raccoons more than the cats these days.  This local raccoon story has caught everyone’s eye.  Soon we are walking again.  Ruby has just about had it with all the road talk.

I want to talk about politics and the voting coming up.

“The goats vote,” the Bearded One says, “and LaLa always loses.”  It’s true.  In their herd of three, Pearl might be the only female and thus the technical boss according to goat lore, even though she has had no babies, but it appears to us that she has power because she teams up with a her sibling, Sage, who is the biggest.  They are definitely all for democracy.

We head home and the Bearded One goes straight to the tool shed area where he has been splitting wood and making winter kindling packets all week.  Bumble bees have taken over the nearby woodpile he’s been working on.  The Bearded One has been trying to convince them to leave, raking out their piles of moss, cussing at them.  He’s not having any luck.

Tractor trail and the covered woodpile where the bees live.

“I think their queen died when I tore up the colony,” he says.  “The drones and workers don’t have a clue without her.  They refuse to leave.”

I scan the area.  “I don’t see any bees,” I say.

The Bearded One is stunned and walks over.  Before my very eyes, he points and speaks in bee language.  “CDB?” he says, and sure enough, there is a bee, then another, and another.  They’re everywhere, just at ground level.

Later that afternoon, I’m at the computer when the Bearded One comes in rubbing a hurt spot on his leg.  “Four raccoons just walked up on me bold as you please,” he says.  “A mama and 3 babies.  I yelled at them, but they just kept coming.  Right down the middle of the tractor trail.  No particular fear at all.”

“Are you okay?”  I look for blood.

He nods and continues.  “I had to act super aggressive just to get them to stop and climb a tree.  I ran up on them hissing and yelling and waving a rake.  I stood there reading them the riot act, trying to imprint on the babies to fear people.  Until suddenly I realized their strategy in one hell of a hurry.”

“Strategy?”

“I was standing right in the middle of the bees.”

*   *  *  *  *

NEWS FLASH:  Here’s a new west coast review on one of my recent books, a novella called A BEAR TALE. http://brianrushwriter.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/a-bear-tale/

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5 responses to “Raccoon Road

  1. Christine Widman

    Hi Christi,
    What an astute and exquisitely written review of A Bear Tale. Big hurrahs for you.
    Hmmmm……
    Wild animals versus domestic animals.
    I think about this a lot.
    I know humans have bonded deeply with dogs, for example.
    Yet approximately 4.5 million Americans were bit by dogs in 2010, 900,000 of them requiring medical attention.
    On occasion here guests will ask with some trepidation about the possibility of coyotes or bobcats on a trail. I always say that there would be considerably more potential for danger if they saw a loose dog running toward them. Then I proceed to give them advice about wild animals.
    So of course the question is:
    What is a domestic vs a wild animal actually?
    Dennis and I saw two magnificent coyotes on a hike early morning last week. I am in awe of their beauty and seeming calm.
    Here neither bobcats nor coyotes ever show any sign of aggression toward a human who is watching them cross the property.
    I run or walk almost daily in a park where there is a fenced dog off-leash play area and am weekly jolted by definitely “un-calm” behavior from dogs who are fortunately behind a tall fence.
    When we were in Seattle, we had a green belt behind our house and raccoons would frequently pay a visit. And I knew to never go outside with them around. They looked so charming but there was no way that they were charming.
    I guess animals of ever ilk – including our species – carry the stinging, biting, pecking, power play predator possibility.
    We’re all sharing limited resources on this magnificent yet small planet.
    Isn’t is amazing to see it daily!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It certainly keeps my brain alive and alert in the most vital way.
    As does your thought provoking blog.
    Big hugs,
    Christine

  2. Great question, Christine. What IS the difference between domestic and wild actually? Feral cats, wild dogs biting neighbors, coyotes minding their own business unless there’s a chicken farm around, raccoons who look so cute. I think about it, too. About picking berries from the wild, and growing (or trying to grow!) domesticated corn and broccoli. I don’t have any answers — I can barely get my mind around the question! But…as you know, thinking is my weak link. Love you, too.:)

  3. I can’t believe I missed this post! I am going to have to really do something about my rss feed read now. I have so many unread blog posts from so many blogs that I am too scared to go there in case I get crushed in the teetering pile of unread posts and no-one finds me for days! I like the look of racoons…can I have a few please? Just send them in a plain brown envelope as I would imagine that customs here would have something to say about the odd racoon entering the state but at least they have personality…I guess I have been denatured regarding crazy animals by owning one! Today Steve and I decided that Earl and Bezial were like Tigger and Eeyore respectively…or Ernie and Bert…or the odd couple…Bezial wanders around Serendipity Farm like Ruby…sighing heavily whenever we talk to anyone or stop to talk to each other for very long and Earl careens around on the end of his shackles like a tornado in a shed…it’s all too exciting for us and we are hoping that Earl sucumbs to the same degree of maturity that Bezial has apparently hit A.S.A.P.! Again, I am very sorry I missed this post but you know what? It was lovely to find it nestled here underneath the mass post above like a chocolate that has slipped under the pillow at an upmarket hotel…melt in the mouth dark Farmlet…my FAVOURITE kind 😉

    • Raccoons are darling to look at, but quite vicious. You wouldn’t want one in the mail, I feel sure. But I’d LOVE to send you some Farmlet jam…if you’ll message me your mailing address on Facebook. Almost as good as dark chocolate!:) And do you prefer Raspberry Rhubarb or Peach Rhubarb?

      • Can you see the virtual slobber Christi? It’s quite disgusting! All over the keyboard and they both sound amazing! I would love to send you back something…Earl comes to mind…maybe Earl and the racoon would cross in the mail and would sort THEMSELVES out ;). That is a really lovely thing to do and I will let you know my mailing address and I will reciprocate. We could do what I have been seeing people on other blogs talk about where they share their endemic foods with people in other countries sort of a “food pal” ROTFL! Food parcels from the war! You know what I mean ;). When we went to the U.K. a while ago we noticed that many of their foods tasted extremely different to ours. U.S.A. chocolate is VERY sweet. Ours is a balance and in the U.K. its not so sweet but very creamy. Its something to do with local tastes but it just goes to show how different we all are. I would love to send you something (other than Earl as we really quite love him to bits if I am being honest 😉 ). This could be great fun! 🙂

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