Desperate raccoons making desperate moves
June 20, 2008
According to Greek legend, Sisyphus offended the Gods by being the Smartest Man in The Forum. For that sin, they condemned him to a life of hard labor, rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain. Once there, the rock escaped his fingers and gravity rolled it all the way back down to the bottom and he started over. Endlessly.
That’s me. Every morning, religiously, I top up our two outside bird feeders with fine Kansas sunflower seeds. Our feeders are large, we’ve adopted a flock of band-tailed pigeons that eat like they were planning to become turkeys. Maybe they’ve adopted us, it works both ways. The feeders are in the backyard, hanging from a wire stretched between two trees, low enough where I can reach them and high enough that the bears can’t.
Band-tailed pigeons are handsome birds. My wife and I enjoy watching their antics, but one morning last week, at 3 a.m., this bucolic backyard scene was trashed by our hound, Cuervo, howling out the window while jumping up and down frantically on my head. Cuervo is a Bulgarian weasel hound, commonly referred to by veterinarians and AKC members as a “Little Yellow Yapper”. Very rare.
I caught the mutt in mid-bounce and I could sense he was warning me of danger, not unlike Lassie trying to explain to Ruth and Paul Martin in the episode where Timmy’s hair caught on fire. In dog sign-language, Cuervo was able to communicate to me that the raccoons were at the gate. He wanted me to know so we could fight ’em out there before we had to fight ’em off the bag of dog food.
I jumped up and turned on the outside light, illuminating a decidedly chubby little racoon, arms and legs wrapped around the feeder like a Sumo wrestler bear-hugging a skinny guy and swinging in wild circles. As I watched in disbelief, a second racoon began a hand-over-han … well, actually he went paw-over-paw, Army Ranger style across the wire then executed a brilliant Reverse Triple Salchow, landing face first in the feeder, whereupon both of them began to suck down the sunflower seeds like turbo-charged Hoovers. Hence, the labors of Sisyphus. I fill up the feeders in the morning and the racoons drain them at night.
I analyzed the situation in a coldly scientific manner. How could I thwart marauding racoons and return to that blissful happy place known to researchers worldwide as, “sleep?” I formulated my plan, fighting down a maniacal laugh, sketching in the wee hours like Leonardo Da Vinci must have done. Finally, exhausted, as the dawn came peeping over the Divide, I fell asleep, only to be wakened moments later by the alarm chirping to announce the advent of a new day. I pored over my sketches and notes, which consisted of plans for a trebuchet-type of a catapult. Apparently my early morning intention was to hurl them into the neighbor’s yard. A quick call to the sheriff made me slightly rethink the whole thing.
Finally I compromised by wrapping both ends of the feeder support wire with four foot length of galvanized eight-inch stovepipe along with another two-foot section separating the feeders on the theory that they wouldn’t be able to get their stubby little arms around the stovepipe and roll off like logrolling victims. And it all worked perfectly. The overall effect was somewhat dampened by my spouse (the critic) who remarked how lucky we were to be the only house in the neighborhood with a shiny Scud missile hanging in the backyard.
She stared at it for a while then said, slowly, “Tell me again about the catapult.”