Monthly Archives: December 2015

Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal

I love raccoons.

I grew up in the country, and just like every other average American kid I had my share of pets.  There were dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, squirrels, a leopard gecko named Yoda, and more dogs and cats.

Oh, yeah, and raccoons.


Don’t all kids have raccoons?  They’re absolutely awesome, so all kids should have them.  They purr a lot like cats, and are much more social.  Cats are jerks, and only care about you when they want to.  I don’t remember our raccoons ever walking just out of arms length, then sitting down to mock us while we stretched out to try to pet them.

I think my dad isn't smiling because he's super embarrassed by how short jean shorts were in the 80's.

I think my dad isn’t smiling because he’s super embarrassed by how short jean shorts were in the 80’s.

I don’t remember the timeline, but I had pet raccoons at several different points in my childhood.  At one time, we had four that were fairly young.  They were in a cage that my dad built, and we’d have to move the cage every once in a while because they would start digging their way out.  One morning, though, they were gone. My mom said that she watched the mommy or daddy raccoon come several mornings to try to dig them out, and she was watching the day that they got away.  She said she felt so sorry for that raccoon mommy or daddy, knowing how hard it was trying to get it’s babies back, so she let them go.


Apparently my mom even took a picture of the four little rascals getting away!

I was so mad!

Forget the precious momentary connection between and human and raccoon parent, and the unrelenting love for their furry children…  I wanted my pets!

I got over it eventually, though – probably because we had another pet raccoon soon after.


I got a little raccoon crazy around that time, doing a school project on them, which included going to school with a tail and mask.  I thought I remembered a random fact from third or fourth grade – that raccoons have no salivary glands – but I just googled it and found it to be false.  Don’t judge – we didn’t have the internet back then.  They often dip their food into water, but apparently that mostly only applies to raccoons in captivity (which ours obviously were).  The German word for raccoon is Waschbär, which literally translates to “Wash Bear.”  I also did a school project on Germany.  And on UFO’s, but that’s beside the point.

Anyhow, this is all a really long setup to a much different, darker story.

A couple raccoons have been hanging around our house at night, eating our cat food.  You might wonder how I knew it was raccoons that were eating the food…  I know because we would flip the lights on and stare at them from a foot away through our kitchen window, and they would just look at us like we were waiters asking how their meal was going.  “Needs more water,” I could hear them say.

My wife didn’t like it one bit because she has a soft spot for our cats.  Because of this, I’d try to sneak out a different door with a BB gun to scare them off.  Usually, they’d hear me approach before I had a clear shot and would run off – but there were the occasional times that I unleashed the fury of my 1991 single-pump Daisy.  The gun is apparently strong enough to kill woodpeckers (oops!) and carpenter bees (that’s right – they call me eagle eye), but it’s only enough to freak out an unsuspecting larger animal.

They’d usually just come back thirty minutes later or so, after all the lights went off in the house.

When they really started bothering me, though, is around the time my chicks started disappearing.  It’s one thing to eat our cat food; it’s quite another thing to eat our chickens.  I wouldn’t have have minded it as much if they just ate our cats instead – those guys are freeloaders, and don’t give me any eggs.

So, one night I again went out with my Daisy BB gun, this time staying far enough back to make sure I could get a good shot off.  I assumed that if I could shoot it square in the face, it would be a little less brave approaching our house.  I stood on a chair to line up the shot and…

Bang – right in the face.  And it was the cutest thing ever.

The raccoon looked up in my direction; it couldn’t really see me because the light was in it’s eyes and I was still in the shadows.  It raised it’s hand and rubbed it’s head in a “Why would you do that?” kind of way.

Unrelated “First World Problems” meme – this is how the raccoon looked while rubbing it’s head

But it didn’t run away.  So I pumped again, and shot it once again.  Still, it just looked out in the shadows, wondering what in the heck was going on.  I shot it again and it finally ran off.  Cleary, the Daisy wasn’t packing as much of a punch as I thought.

I went inside, and less than ten minutes later the little punk was back.  Usually, I would give it a little grace, but this one was just mocking me.  So I pulled out the big guns.

Well, by big guns, I didn’t actually get a gun.  In order to take a shot, I’d have to aim towards the house, and I’m not that confident in my middle-of-the-night-with-the-house-as-the-background target skills.  So I got the next best thing: my crossbow.

The murder weapon

The murder weapon

I got in the exact same position and kind of took aim.  Because it was dark and I was fairly close, I couldn’t really use the electronic scope.  There are three red dots in the scope, and choosing the wrong one would definitely embed an arrow into my shed or my exterior wall, so I just judged where it was aimed as if I wasn’t the one holding the crossbow.  X/Y axis sort of thing.  Squeeze the trigger, and…

Bam.  Perfect shot.

The raccoon looked up when it heard the trigger, otherwise my arrow probably would have been a direct hit to the face.  As it was, though, it went through its chest, then through it’s gut and out its butt.  It was obviously a little terrified and jumped off the shed attached to the house like it was committing suicide.  It ran out in the woods, limping and scraping the arrow on the ground.

Then I realized that it still had my arrow.

I started following it, knowing that if I lost it in the moment, some other animal would drag it and my arrow away before the morning light.  I used my phone as a flashlight, and following the sad sounds of a dying raccoon, its eyes reflected back at me in the distance.

About the same time, my wife came out to see if I’d gotten it – and I realized there was no possible way I could finish the little dude off with my crossbow – so I sent her to the garage to fetch an axe.  She came back with it, and I traded the crossbow for the axe and made my way into the underbrush.

The... other... murder weapon

The… other… murder weapon

It was freaking out, and I felt bad because it was definitely suffering.  Still holding the phone-flashlight in one hand, I try to finish the job with a swoop of my axe.  Unfortunately, a one-handed axe swoop while the other hand holds a flashlight is not very accurate, and I pretty much just chopped at it enough to insult it.  So I turned the axe around to bludgeon it until it was gone.

It was sad, and I felt pretty bad because I like raccoons.  I was also sad because the meat was so messed up that I wasn’t even going to attempt to clean and eat it.  But something enjoyed it, because the next day I came out there and all that was left was a puddle of fur.  (I should have gotten a picture of that, but didn’t think about it until later)

The other raccoon learned its lesson, apparently, because it stayed away for a long time.  It has recently been showing up again, though.  Which stinks, because I really do love raccoons.


Dark Times: A Hen’s New Outlook on Life

I should be updating my blog a lot these days, because I have fewer obligations – but I seem to be filling my time with other on-grid things.  I need to remedy that.  But this time, I’ll again share a guest post from new notes that I found scratched in my chicken coop:

Day 437

I won’t lie.  I’m glad the chicks are gone.  They were really annoying, and sometimes they’d try to eat their own food.  I’m bigger, so of course I should have first dibs on anything they would want to eat or drink.  Anyhow, they disappeared – one by one.  I’d go to my perch for the night, and I’d wake up with one less annoying cheep cheep rattling between my ears.  Eventually, there was only one, and Farmer thought it would be a good idea to put it in here with us.

We showed Farmer who’s boss.  We’ll never tell him what really happened to it.

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 440

RooTwo disappeared last night.  No notes, no calls.  I think he was the father of all those chicks, so either he was afraid of everyone finding out how much of a deadbeat dad he was, or maybe he went out looking for them.  Either way, more food for me.  He wasn’t nearly as nice as Roo was.  RooThree has some really cute tailfeathers.

Clucks and Scratches,



Day 452

Farmer put a big perch out in front of our coop today.  At first he was riding around on it, cutting up all of the green stuff growing in our playground, but then it stopped tossing the green stuff around.  I don’t know why he does that to begin with – the green stuff tastes better without cutting it.  And every time he cuts it, it’s harder to find bugs.  Farmer is really selfish.

He stopped it, and kept reaching under it.  He was really insistent on trying to get something underneath, even with big metal sticks – maybe there was a big worm under it or something?  Eventually, he sat back down on it, but it never made the loud noise that it used to make.  He covered it up with a HUGE blanket that doesn’t let water through.  I checked it out, underneath the blanket – it’s pretty comfortable.

Clucks and Scratches,

Lawn mower still won't run. Don't tell my dad - he would be ashamed of me.

Lawn mower still won’t run. Don’t tell my dad – he would be ashamed of me.

Day 457

I love the new perch!  I always try to sleep there, but for some reason, Farmer comes out every night with a glowing stick and grabs me.  He puts me back in the coop.  I don’t think he understands that I WANT to sleep on the new perch.  I’ve made it my own – I’ve been laying eggs there, and pooping in it a bit just to show that it’s mine.

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 464

Farmer keeps dumping big buckets of food right by our coop.  Well, I say food, but I mean old crusty, soggy food.  But – it’s still food!  There’s so much I don’t even have to worry about sharing!

Clucks and Scratches,

In retrospect, I think I was just attracting other animals with these scraps...

In retrospect, I think I was just attracting other animals with these scraps…

Day 482

RooTwo was definitely the father of all those chicks.  RooThree has been here by himself, and we’ve been sitting on eggs for a LONG time.  None of them are hatching.  In fact, after we’ve laid on them longer than we needed to, Farmer took them out and threw them in a bag.  Some of them exploded when they fell into the bag and smelled TERRIBLE!  

Looks like RooThree is not very good at his job.

Clucks and Scratches,

It smelled like it looks

It smelled like it looks

Day 485

RooThree is strutting around like he’s the cock of the walk, but none of us really eggspect him to pick up where RooTwo left off anymore.  He used to have some gorgeous tail feathers, but it seems like he loses one a day.  Is premature tail baldness a thing?

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 490

I don’t like where this is going.  RooThree is gone.  Is everyone being invited to some bawking party without telling me?

I’m in charge now, and even Farmer can’t change that.

Clucks and Scratches,

They were aggressive with me, but they'd stay by my side - even staying near the window when they could see me inside!

The new head chicken (Peepnelopeep) was aggressive with me, but they’d all stay by my side – even staying near the window when they could see me inside!

Day 493

Ummm…  Bruuke, one of the other girls, disappeared yesterday.  Not sure what happened – we all left the coop for our daily buffet when Farmer opened the door.  I didn’t see her last night, and when we woke up today we found that she never came home.

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 496

Things are getting weird.  The hairy white one is gone.  It’s definitely not a party, because SHE wouldn’t have been invited before me and Henrietta.  Honestly – nobody liked her.  None of us even knew her name.  I’d be glad that she’s gone, except that I’m not sure what’s happening.

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 499

It’s down to me and Henrietta…  The other girl, Rebeaka, was acting paranoid yesterday, but I didn’t think anything of it.  Kept saying “they’re coming back” and “I just know it’s my turn.”  I don’t know what that means, but apparently she knew.

Clucks and Scratches,

Day 505

Farmer doesn’t open the door anymore.  We just sit here and scratch tic-tac-talon into the ground.  Henrietta is always scratches and I’m always eggs.  I want to be scratches.  Why won’t Farmer let us out?

Clucks and Scratches,