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Late night escapades with raccoons in your underwear. . .

Ok, so I worded that funny. Here’s the story:

Lately raccoons have taken over our yard after dark, and I mean literally taken it over. The dog spends all evening whining to get at them, though if she did I’m sure they would not be worse for the tussle. Usually around 3 or 4 in the morning she wakes us from her crate because they have gotten so noisy that even in her little “cave of solitude” she can’t resist complaining about them. And they are noisy. They go about rototilling our leaf-mulched yard. It is full of worms, I know this for a fact because I was poking about in the mulch myself a couple weeks ago, happily noting that the barren and lifeless dirt under it is now alive with little wrigglers feeding on the compost and leaf mold.  At least it was full of worms. Probably the raccoons have eaten them all now.

The first few times we knew they had been in the yard, it was because they tried to get into the chicken coop and left muddy prints all over it and bent some of the chicken wire.

Then we saw 5 of them in our neighbor’s side yard, just chillin’. They saw Ci and didn’t seem too worried. We watched them for a while and even woke up Molly to see them because she had been asking about them. They were almost cute, in an intimidating, giant rat sort of way.

Next they were out at 4:30 AM when Spencer left for work on his bike. And as soon as he was out the door Ci took up her whiney refrain in the crate, even venturing a little bark for good measure ( alas, she does not really comprehend how much that could lower her life expectancy in a house full of sleeping babies). I got up, threw a big blanket over her crate in protest, and peeked at a big momma coon and two or three babies, one sans tail, digging about in the leaf litter very happily.

Next occurance, we lay in bed sometime around 3 am, and Spencer slept through a whole chorus of whiney yips and yaps as Ci signalled that those coons were in the yard again, so close she could taste them. Spencer really is a champion sleeper when he gets a whack at it. Which is rare these days for any of us. And I could hear the girls tossing a bit in their sleep to the sounds of our excited dog, which is not a happy noise at 3am–the tossing that is. Well, the whining too. I woke Spence up and explained what was going on. We lay still a minute and listened to the rustling of the raccoons in the compost pile, but the thuds, clanks and scratching noises that began momentarily signalled that this was now war.

Spencer crawled out of bed about as enthusiastically as you might expect, actually probably a little more than that really, because we knew how shifty these guys were about our hens. They were on the roof of the coop trying to peel up the corrugated metal roofing (luckily there were two more layers of wood under that) and clawing at the latches on the doors. Spencer ran out, clad in the shimmering blue of a hero (ok, the cottony blue of boxer-briefs) and proceeded to yell very quietly at them to “shoo”. There were three this time and they weren’t babies. They were some of the big boys of the neighborhood, obviously quite happy and not in a hurry to leave. One began to waddle up to Spencer. Probably he just wanted to shake hands and introduce himself, but Spencer didn’t risk it and grabbed a stick. It was sort of a small stick. About the size of a ruler and the width of a pencil–but he threw it. And the raccoon stopped moving forward. But he did hiss, which wasn’t very friendly of him. So Spencer grabbed another twig and tossed it in like manner. Feeling very insulted, the raccoon waddled away and climbed over the fence, followed shortly by his buddies. Only to return moments after Spencer crawled back into bed. We gave up–let the hens fend for themselves, damnit. We need sleep.

Come morning everyone was fine.

So between the rats in the attic and walls, the raccoons at night, the hens we keep for eggs, and the coyote-wannabe in her crate, I guess we’ve sort of brought the country in to the city. At least the pests, that is.

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