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Adventures with Wildlife

Last night while I was putting in my nightly thirty minutes of cleaning the sewing room, I opened the windows in there because it was a lovely cool night.  Having them opened reminded me of how close the neighbor's house is - when he took the trash out, it sounded like he was right under my window.  Eventually I got to a stopping point, closed things up (my cat has developed an unsavory and dangerous habit of eating string/thread, so he's not allowed in there unsupervised) and went to sit on the couch and review my email for the evening.

As Bob and I were sitting on the couch and I was playing on the computer, I started hearing this HUGE ruckus that I assumed was coming from the library.  It sounded like the cats were dismembering something made out of cellophane, with occasional interludes of knocking things down.  After some period of time I finally said "WHAT are they DOING in there?" and got up to investigate.

As I walked past the open front door, it became apparent that the noise in question was coming from *outside,* and was getting louder and possibly closer.  Once that realization dawned, it was immediately obvious that the cellophane noise was something large crashing around in the leaves, and the thumps were it impacting trees - or maybe the neighbor's bit of fence next to their trash cans.  Now, when you look out my front door, what you see are trees.  Right there.  Face full of evergreen.  Woods right up to the door.  I'm going to guess that the drip line of the hemlocks (which are likely going to die from the wooly adelgid infestation) is probably ten or fifteen feet from the front door.  I snapped "Bob!  Flashlight!" and stood looking out into the dark.

There I am, standing behind nothing more than a piece of aluminum holding a full-length screen, listening to the rustling and crashing, and thinking "Bear!  BearbearbearBearBEARBEARBEAR!!!" and waiting to slam the door shut as it bursts out of the trees.

This would be a downside of a house in the trees.

Bob brought me a flashlight, and obviously all I could see with it were better lit hemlocks.  Then I saw something move.  It moved really fast, and VERY strangely, but it was way too small to be a bear.  Then it came out into the light - just before it ran into a tree, the front steps, and the side of the house.

I have never felt sorry for a raccoon before.

It was a good sized raccoon, and it had clearly gotten into the neighbor's garbage shortly after he put it out.  In that garbage was a plastic Miracle Whip jar, and the poor coon had gotten his head wedged into it and could not get it off.  In a panic, he was crashing around and intermittently stopping to claw at the jar.  Bob and I both wanted to go out and help, but luckily we both knew that was *way* too dangerous.

Just as we got to the point where I was thinking about the big cat carrier, boots, and shovels, our little scavenger caught the lip of the jar on just the right projection of rock on our front walk, and managed to pull it off his head.  At that point he backed up a couple of feet and just stood there breathing hard.

Eventually he moved away from the house into my hosta garden, and at that point stopped and settled in to stare longingly at the jar.  I swear that little walnut-brain was thinking "Okay, getting stuck sucked, but there was some really yummy stuff in there.  Maybe if I try it from a different angle..."  When he moved further off and went up a tree, Bob went out to retrieve the jar and threw it away in our trash - which stays inside the garage.  I don't like having it in there, but I like having bear E-9 on our porch less.

This reinforced for me that I put all lids back on after they've been rinsed but before they go in the recycling bin.  That was terrible to watch.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 3rd, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
Aww. Poor little dummy. Raccoons and bears...you guys have your hands full! I'm glad he was able to get free.
Jun. 5th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
Me too. I rather despise raccoons, but you hate to see that happen to any animal.
Jun. 4th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
We get bears too, but we never worry about them. Honestly, bears are better than raccoons in most cases. For us, anyway. Bears have never done any DAMAGE at our place. They just want to have a snuffle in the monstrous compost pile for tasty old carrots and apples and things. (We also get turkeys stopping by fairly often. MAN they're ugly. Like tiny dinosaurs with feathers!)

If raccoons skulk about visibly at our place, dad shoots them. They do hundreds (even thousands) of dollars of damage at the greenhouse, eating through plastic bins and wooden ones to rip into the various birdseed and so on and they just...they don't do ANYTHING good in the world. They're vicious, they're destructive, and they don't get rid of any other pests the way frogs, for example, do.

He was a very lucky raccoon. (Lucky he was at your place and not mine.) :)
Jun. 5th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
He would have been lucky anyhow - he was right in line with the neighbors. Can't shoot directly at a home, so I don't think your dad would have taken the shot either.

The bears tend to do a lot of damage, mostly by destroying anything between them and what they want. Since I moved our trash can into the garage (yuck), we don't have anything they want.

My dad shoots them too. They're destructive, and often rabid around here.
Jun. 5th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
The garbage at our place isn't in line with any neighbours. :) (Actually almost nothing on our property is because we don't really HAVE any neighbours, except at the very front corner where we never go.)

We've never had bears do any damage at all, probably because what they want is very much out in the open with no restrictions. (That's why animals love our place I guess. They don't have to work very hard to stay well fed with fruit dropping off trees and kitchen scraps and discarded annuals constantly being added to the ten-foot-tall mulch pile.

We had a raccoon go up a tree once to the verrrrry top. Half dead tree with very few leaves so he was very obvious on the skinny little branches, hanging there like the ugliest Xmas decoration known to man. He had rabies so he had to go. (We're not pointlessly sentimental about animals around here...we're all animals and we've all got to look out for ourselves...but no one goes out of their way to get rid of animals either. If they're doing us harm, boom. If not, they can do as they please. I even swerve to avoid caterpillars when I'm out cycling. I shouldn't, but it's just instinct. You're not supposed to kill things if you can reasonably avoid it, even if you don't like them much. And I don't like caperdillers either because they eat my nice plants. But at least they're kind of cute?)

Jun. 5th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Some caterpillars. I go out of my way to kill tent caterpillars because they're so hugely destructive, and non-native at that. I'm rather fond of wooly bears though...
Jun. 5th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
When I lived in wall-to-wall suburbia I though raccoons were cute.

Then I lived in CA for a while and my landlord's Akita was nearly killed defending her puppies against a raccoon. Then after I moved here, Rob's Mom had a rabid raccoon chase her back into her own house--it popped the screendoor off the tracks before its disease sent it reeling off in another direction....she was shaking so badly she could hardly load the gun so she missed it. Then a few years ago a neighbor went to bring in her cat because there was "another one fighting with it" and got attacked by the rabid raccoon herself and needed the full series of shots. (Cat just needed a few days observation since ANIMALS get vaccinated for this.).

I don't think they're cute anymore. Call out the crossbows.
Jun. 5th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Not cute. Not cute at all. Unless they've been made into a muff.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )