Monday, May 16, 2011


Pirate, thief, burglar.  VARMINT.

I've got an uninvited guest in the barn.

He's got whiskers and a striped tail like our cats, but he is not a cat.  He has little hand- paws.  

He's a sneak.

Where is he? When I turn off the radio, to listen to the sound of the horses chewing, I can hear something else, and I'm not the only one.  We can all hear him sniffing.

We know if we wait long enough he'll be coming back.

If I hold still long enough, he'll think I'm just another inanimate object in the barn aisle, and he'll sneak his way towards the cat food bowls, where Larry and Moe wait to tell him off.  

You think you know what racoons look like, but to see one for real, this close up, is a surprise.  It's not a cat.  It's not like a dog.  It's not what you expect.  The ears are rounder, the eyes are small black marbles close together in the wide pointy face. They are cute, but somehow, wild and kind of horrifying in an indescribable way.  (You should click on the picture to see this face.)

You don't realize what those tiny shiny black eyes are like until you get this close, and you'll only get this close by waiting quietly, then standing so still, only your thumb moves to touch the button on the igadget to take the picture.  The only sound you can make is breathing.  I was this close to an animal who'd prefer not to deal with my kind.  This is not a cute pet... it could be rabid, it could be defensively dangerous. 

And they're just a nuisance.  They steal anything they can get their little hand-paws on.  And they crap.  They crap dog-sized turds anywhere they want, usually where we don't want it.  They take stuff apart.  They can take garbage can lids off, they can reach into containers; nothing is safe from a determined racoon. 

I wish I didn't kind of admire them.

I mean, look at the little scamp.  "What's in here?" Curious, and clever.  

Indecisive too, and I can sure relate to that.  

And I'm sorry, but he's so cute here.  Without the glint of those close set eyes, he's an endearing ball of coarse fur.  Little bastard.  How is it that the ultimate criminal of the animal world has a mask on his face?

Persistent, too, which is usually admirable... damn you, pirate critter.

Most critters would literally high-tail it after tipping over the pail, but with his stealthy nature, he slinks away dragging his jail-striped tail behind him.

Persistence, or just curiosity? He can't stay away.  He's got to come back.  It's what he does.  He's got to go get that illegal prize, whatever that prize is: cat kibble, garbage, it doesn't matter.  

I'm not sure how I feel about this.


Heidi Willis said...

HOLY COW you were close to him!! I can't believe you got those pictures!!

Animals are a conundrum. Most of them we don't want living near us because they wreak havoc... but darn it if they aren't full of something to admire.

Todd likes ants. He likes that they are so organized and hard-working and army-like. I have no problems stepping on them. Those suckers can bite. And eat my cereal.

Anonymous said...

I hear you Heidi!! I have a rule, I don't live in their house and they don't get to live in mine. The one that took up residence in our attic last summer, was, ahem, relocated....but not before I took some pictures of it in the live animal trap. It was actually really scary...it would stay really really quiet and still and then the moment you moved toward it, total freak out, lunging and snarling and trying to shred the metal with it's teeth and paws!!! UG. And STINK, like something dead crossed with something deader!!!! ICK! Don't like animals living in my house that were NOT invited thats fer sure!!!!!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yes and yes!

I hope Paul Tee reads this. He's got some racoon stories.

mugwump said...

I have one. Racoon story that is...My friend is a home health care nurse. One of her clients is in a wheelchair and has little to no feeling in his hands and feet.
He fell asleep in his garden one warm night last August.
He woke up with a racoon in his lap.
He yelled and it ran.
The racoon had eaten the ends from several of his toes and some of his fingers.
I no longer think there is anything cute about them.
All I see is the glittery eyes.

Heidi the Hick said...


At first I thought, Aw it was in his lap like a little pet friend, and it's like I said, if you hold real still they'll come up to you...


What's behind those glittery black eyes...

Heidi the Hick said...

Heidi - yeah ants are cool. When they're not invading the kitchen that is. I've spent time watching them and it's fascinating. The way the carry objects so much bigger than themselves is pretty inspiring. But. Don't particularly want to hang around with ants. Don't want them trying to carry ME around.

Mommyrides- I have a similar rule! That varmint isn't paying rent or doing housework, it's gotta go! ( of course Lucy and the Pug do useful things, we just aren't sure what )

I can see a raccoon in a trap acting like that. I think that's why I felt that unnamed fear when I was standing there waiting for it to get close to me. This one didn't reek though. I wonder if that's a self defense thing.

Paul Tee said...

Yeah, among my favorites is the story of a raccoon my son and I caught in the live trap. I know that alarm has been raised among the raccoon tribes, not to go near the trap. We tried various inducements, meat, fruit, cookies, but nothing seem to attract the critters. Tried cabbage with sardines, and that did the trick.

"Hey Dad, I think we got something," my son called. In spite of the fact it was deep evening, we went to have a look-and-see. Even at a distance, we heard it rattling the cage.

"Funny looking raccoon," my son decided; he has better eyes than me. I had to get closer to see anything.

"Yep, there is something dark about him," was my best estimate. A step closer and I noticed a flash of white. "Yikkes," I rebounded like a beach ball on a hot summer day.

"That's the wrong species of raccoon," I said. But now what? We weren't so eager to get close.

Finally we advanced behind a sheet of heavy duty plastic, wrapped the cage top to bottom and sideways, put it inside an oversized garbage bag, and folded it all in a plastic bag the new mattress came in, and put it in the back of the Jeep. Drove 15 miles to let the critter loose. "That's one pissed off raccoon," I told my son on the way home.

"Do you smell something funny?" my wife asked as we drove to the office the next day and the next.

"No, do you smell something?"

"Did you run over a roadkill?"

"I might have." One thing about raccoons they just can't dodge a fast moving vehicle.

Heidi the Hick said...

That story never will never get old!

Darn varmints.