Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bearanoia, the Raccoon Edition

Fishermen and outdoorsy folks here in the Northwest have a term for that feeling you get when you're on the trail or chest deep in a river, and you get that unmistakable awareness that something huge and toothy is eyeballing you. We call it bearanoia.

I don't know if this phenomenon is unique to the PNW/Alaska/Canada back country, but just about every fisherman I know has a story about hearing (or smelling) a suspected bear, feeling the hair rise on the back of their neck, then suddenly deciding to go ahead and call it a day. I've been there myself a few times blueberry and huckleberry picking. In fact, one of the spots where my Mom and I used to go every year to pick blackberries was a well known haunt for cougars - the big cat kind, not the mid-life tragedy kind - which for whatever reason, don't scare me as much.

Anyway, to finally wander back to my original point, I've been having bearanoia mini-episodes, featuring raccoons.

It started with a daytime sighting of a raccoon in our garbage can. The girls saw the bugger and ran straight in to tell their Dad about it. They've been given many a lecture on leaving wild animals be, especially ones that are acting out of character. A nocturnal animal out and about in the day time is basically the definition of out of character, and is usually indicative of it having a serious illness, like rabies.

By the time Bill got outside with the BB gun, the raccoon had vanished. But he came back, the bastard.

I was loafing on the couch, home alone, with the girls asleep, when I hear noises on the porch. I slink over to peek out the window and see the mother-effer looking me right in the eye and eating my goat vitamins. THE NERVE.

So, I run to get the BB gun, call Bill at work to get a quick refresher on how to load/pump the stupid thing, and charge out the front door, locked and loaded, only to find that Mr. Sneaky has left the building. I double check my critters, especially the chickens to make sure that everyone is locked up well for the night, then head in and try to go back to sleep. Yeah, right.

Raccoons, foxes, coyotes - they are my boogeymen. When I have the slightest awareness of something amiss with my farm's status quo, I go into a hyper-alert mode that is mentally and physically exhausting. And all that it takes to kick off the crazy is one coyote's yip, a fresh fox turd in the chicken's yard or a raccoon sighting. Then I'm up all night, listening for the tiniest peep or squeak indicating trouble. Worse still, when I do hear something that I perceive to be problematic, I wake poor Bill up in a panic to get him to verify or investigate. The poor man has gone coyote tracking in his bathrobe and headlamp more times that I can count, with nary a coyote bagged yet.

So I slept like crap last night, afraid that this rabid S-O-B was going to harm my kids or critters before I could get him. I finally fall asleep, and after forcing myself to wake up to take the kids to school, I pull into the driveway, ready to go back inside and catch a nap. Then who do I see scampering up a cedar tree as I'm getting out of my car? Mr. A-hole.

So like my super huntress Great-Grandma Lizzie-Belle (yep, that was her real name!), I gots my gun and a broom and decided to sit under the tree, staring at it for all I was worth, waiting for Captain Jackhole to show his annoyingly cute face. My plan was to pop him out of the tree with a BB, then once he fell, go caveman on his butt with a broom, pitchfork, rake, soup spoon, whatever.

I never did flush him out. Instead, I spent a good half an hour sitting in my driveway on top of an empty goat kennel, gun at the ready, staring up at a motionless cedar tree waiting, just waiting for that dirty sumbeech to move a muscle and reveal himself to me. Nada.

Bill is out now setting a second have-a-heart trap, this one right on the porch, in case the greedy little sneak comes back for a second helping of goat minerals (Seriously, raccoon? I'm pretty sure I'd eat trash first.) We are baiting with a piece of fruit leather, since my forced viewings of Billy the Exterminator - Scarlet's a superfan - have taught me that raccoons and skunks both like fruity treats. Our other trap, set up by the garbage cans, contains an aged Easter Peep. I'll be interested to see which treat he goes for.

So I'm kicking back and guzzling my coffee, well aware that I'll be up at 2am and pinging on all cylinders, waiting for my showdown with a mentally ill vitamin thief. I've got my headlamp, BB gun and pitchfork at the ready. Bring it.

Mother of five boys, crack shot, and salmon fisher extrordinaire, Great Grandma LizzieBelle and her catch of the day. Steady my hand, oh great and fearless ancestor, so that I may protect my family and flocks from harm and give that filthy raccoon whatfor.

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