Jon de Vos:Sucking sleep from the living
May 30, 2008
The past few years, I’ve spent considerable amounts of time trying to outwit a raccoon. Sure, I know what you’re thinking, this is the same guy who lost two out of three tic-tac-toe games to a chicken in a cage at a reptile garden in South Dakota. I explained how all that happened, and besides, everybody knows raccoons are smarter than chickens. Anyway, it’s not one raccoon, now that several years have passed, it’s become a posse. They roam the backyard like vampires coming out at night to suck sleep from the living. They’re attracted to our bird feeders hung from wires strung between two trees, high enough so the bears can’t get them, yet low enough I can still reach them. They’ll climb the tree then go hand over, er, make that paw over paw along the wire and leap upon a dangling feeder which usually blows apart under the stress of their corpulent bodies, spilling a harvest of sunflower seeds on the ground. Then the family waddles in to feast upon the kill.
Cuervo, our Bulgarian Weasel Hound, is short. To see the raccoons out the window, it helps him to jump up on the bed and find something to stand on, the handiest thing apparently being my head. It would be one thing if he just stood there barking like a seal, but, no, he has to dance up and down like a deranged Irish guy in Riverdance.
So there I am, trying to sleep with a dog dancing on my head while warbling like a loon. Once would be bad but this routine happens a dozen times a night.
My brother-in-law lives in Kansas and trolls Country Western bars trying to scoot some unwary and unlucky lady’s boots. I sure hope it’s not related but in a recent phone call, he mentioned he had a large live-trap that would solve our raccoon problem. Sure enough, next visit he brought it with him.
After he left, my wife and I stared at the empty trap, taking up a sizeable portion of our garage.
She looked at me, “What if we catch one?”
“You can do like you do with the chipmunks and turn them loose out at the rich people’s driveway.”
She looked doubtful.
“I don’t think so. This is in the manly part of the contract I signed,” she said and darted for the kitchen.
“I’ll need a freshly killed chicken for bait,” I shouted at a rapidly closing door.
A couple days later, the trap hadn’t moved. At breakfast, my wife mentioned that she’d called the County Extension office.
“They don’t recommend trying to separate families of raccoons. If you don’t take them far enough away, they’ll be back, and if you do take them far enough away, they’ll all die trying to find each other,” she said.
We looked at each other and nodded simultaneously. The only solution was to drive them away en masse to hopefully find their own rich people. Next week’s column will deal with how to introduce raccoons to the benefits of wealth management, a tribute to the mechanical genius of Rube Goldberg, with a sub-chapter on the benefits of marriage counseling.
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