This is the ongoing story of Heidi and friends, raccoons and the occasional opossum who frequent my backyard wildlife buffet. It is now mid spring 2011. The new moms are all either gestating or nursing now. They will all be famished now, a hunger which will only increase in the weeks to come as each mom's growing kits demand ever more of her body's resources. This is the time of year when it's a real challenge for them to locate and consume enough food to keep their kits and themselves healthy.
The photo below is of one of the kits, probably Petey (based on recent revelations) looking in the bottom of the patio door. And no, Debbie, please don't help me clean that one up. ;-)
I went with a small footprint just in case. (grin)
Post edited to fill in the Heidi threads' 'cover' template complete with links to prior & original threads
iI was wondering if anyone knows if Coons will eat corn? you know the stuff they bag for squirrels, and put the squirrel photo on the bag.. it has BOS and peanuts... well, the squirrels wont eat the corn *sigh* and i dont have any kibble for the coons. I've been leaving out my chx carcases -- but last night i didnt - thinking with the COLD and fresh blanket of heavy snow -- that they would stay in their nests... nope, i saw tracks where i usually leave the bones...
So -- i have to rummage to find food for the buggers... and that is all i have in abundance. I do ahve a few eggs i can put out. i do believe it's a single raccoon.
From my experience, raccoons will plunder through it and pick out the BOS & nuts. They can eat the corn, but it's not their favorite thing (fairly low on the list unless fresh corn). They will eat it, and pretty much anything, if they are sufficiently hungry, so putting some out would at least reassure you that she/they are not starving (either way).
I had the EXACT same situation. The squirrels were eating my bird food, so I bought them their own 'special' food. The label makes it seem as though corn is their favorite (squirrels) - NOT! Mine would never touch it either, esp as long as there were other foods nearby, from BOS to acorns (provided by nature). What the corn WILL attract is deer if any are in the area, along with any feral hogs (guess you probably don't have those up there. Want me to send you a few piglets?), rats, mice, and probably a number of other small [and potentially annoying] creatures endemic to your area (but not here). Thus you might want to be careful about leaving corn out. The corn I put out caused wild deer to jump the fence into the back yard. The good news is they finished off the corn before leaving.
Of course, the raccoons will love the eggs, even old eggs are appreciated. Did you read my list above of things for the 'pot luck'? Raccoons are hungry right now due to rearing young and possibly even nursing. Mine ate everything I put out from bread (buns) to suet blocks, flavored oatmeal, you name it. I've found they often like canned/refrigerated biscuits (baked, of course), various meat scraps, tuna, and will eat bread and rolls of pretty much any kind, apples/bananas if hungry (not favs but never left behind at my house esp this time of year). They like cereal, esp apple jacks types, cookies, hummer nectar, koolaid, syrup, and even sugar flavored water. Heidi who only eats a few things loves nectar, syrup, and sugar water. Oh, and any kind of jelly/preserves (alone or on bread), honey, anything along those lines. Peanut butter on bread, frosting on bread or crackers. Hope some of these ideas help.
I scanned that post - did see the suet cakes though... since it's just me up here, food has been limited to homemade soup, rotisserie chickens and salads. oh, bacon and eggs for breakfast. i also have cottage cheese. and the cupboards were bare when i got here, so not even old crackers.
with the snow we got last night, and the HUGE hill out of my drive... i'm staying put until enough melts that i can get up the hill to go shopping.
I guess with what i have ... i'll share with her for about a day or two til i can get out.
i have kefir tooo... bet she'd like to drink some??
and i do have mice, as long as they stay out side, that is fine, they do eat the corn... last year i even picked up with the squirrels tossed a side and piled it in the opening 'hole' they created. do dont think much goes to waste around here in the forest. and thankfully -- I do get deer in my yard, as i'm more in the interior of the park.
It's SO hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that you are snowed in (so to speak). Where are you anyhow? Siberia (rhetorical question). It's 90F here today. I figured snow was over for everyone except maybe Antarctica. Heck, it was 70F here at midnight last night. Yep, we are rapidly heading for heat stroke territory - and there you are with a blanket of snow. Wow. Such diversity.
As for the raccoons, remember, they are omnivores. Like us, they have their likes and dislikes, but if they are hungry enough they will eat just about anything. I would put out the squirrel mix for her. If you want to do more, consider putting a small bit of whatever else you can spare - until you find out if she eats it. If she doesn't eat all of the food you put out, no matter what it is, that will tell you that she is not starving. Either way, it's a win-win so long as you don't put out (and possibly waste) a lot of something you would have eaten.
That snow looks good from here. It's already getting a bit too hot here in the middle of the day. Mornings and evenings are still nice, but that won't last long either. It's still hard for me to image that there is snow so close.
Chicken is pretty popular here, not on the absolute top list with my group but quite popular, none the less. I gave them a few leg bones just last night, and while Heidi wouldn't have any part of it, the yearlings argued and bickered and had a shoving match over them.
It is getting into the low 60's most days here. It has been warming up like this for 3 weeks, which is not usual: it usually changes from winter to summer with no pause for spring. The locals are warning that it is going to be a brutal summer and to enjoy this rare spring.
the dish i left out last night is empty... saw some egg shell on the ground... i left 2 brown eggs. saw cute little feet prints on the back deck. i know she always comes up there -- and thankfully i've had no destruction from any coons... many in the Park talk about how destructive they are. guess i've been lucky.
The worst mine usually do, and you know I've had a bunch of them in my yard for hours at a time for years, is dig holes in the yard and 'throw' their toys all over the place. The digging can get a bit annoying at its worst. I see it almost exclusively this time of year when I have a huge gang of new, yearling moms hanging around often for hours waiting to be fed. My guess is they have too much energy and get board just sitting around like that, so they start looking for something to do to entertain themselves - just like humans sitting around a Dr's office. I guess maybe I need to put a stack of old magazines out there, stuff like Golf Digest, Architectural Digest, and other, largely unreadable things I see around my Drs office.
Otherwise, they don't tend to mess with anything. I have a theory - and it's strictly a musing at this time - that they are less inclined to damage your place if you feed them. They are smart critters. I'm thinking they know this is my den and are smart enough to know the likely consequences of messing with my den. Like Kitty, they know it's not nice to upset the one who feeds you.
Oh no, now you won't see Heidi for a couple of months.
I have a question. Something's been digging in my front yard - this hasn't happened before. I laid a layer of leaves, last fall & something's turning them over & digging a bit. This dirt is almost impossible to dig, because there are pine roots running through the bed. I added some earthworm eggs to this bed, last spring, and found some wonderful big juicy earthworms, when I was transplanting last weekend. The earthworms that grow in my compost don't seem to stay in the beds, when I add the compost, but I digress... Anyway, do you think that raccoons are digging for the earthworms? They've never done much digging in my other beds, except for occasionally pulling newly transplanted plants out. If that's the explanation, I guess the earthworm eggs contain gourmet earthworms...
I never had any problem with the raccoons digging until recently when I started having large numbers of 'teen' moms who are all having to hang around, sometimes for hours, crammed into a small area while waiting for dinner. They appear to be 'playing' more so than actually looking for food. I think they are just bored and looking for something to do while waiting.
Unless they are tired and resting/sleeping, raccoons otherwise seem a bit fidgety, especially the yearlings who are in that region between kids and adults and have too much energy still. They remind me of that person, I figure most people have known at least one, who comes to your office or home and has to fidget with everything while they talk with you. You know, the people you find yourself constantly taking things from as though they were toddlers.
Such people are constantly and mindlessly picking things up from your desk or end tables and then turning and twisting them every which way while talking, so you have to constantly take thing from them to guard valuable items from breakage. I usually look around for something they can play with safely, something they can't break or something I don't mind if they break and put that in their hands instead of the favorite nick-knack they are currently twisting this way and that. Taking things away from them doesn't work as they will just pick up something else. They can't help themselves.
Raccoons are exactly like those people. They are constantly messing with something, the young ones at least. Heidi, being older and more mature, is able to sit patiently and 'behave' herself, but the yearlings are not. They will play with any toys I put out, twisting things this way and that exactly like the people described above (who undoubtedly don't realize they are behaving like yearling raccoons).
When I left my kitchen compost pail out there by the composter years ago, the then yearling Dennis would spend an hour or more sticking her hands/arms through the air holes at the top and then feeling around in the dark to try to pull the yucky, partially decomposed vegetable scraps out of the pail. She didn't want to EAT the decomposing collard scraps. She just wanted to PLAY with them by enjoying the process of feeling around for them.
Remember those discussions we had years ago, led at the time by Ruth, discussions about how raccoons have this incredibly acute tactile sense and delight in amusing it? This is SO true. It doesn't matter whether they are feeling around on the bottom of the wading pool for grapes and kibble or manipulating various toys or feeling around in the dark for wet collards or digging in the dirt, it's all about the joy of the tactile feel of things - along with their total inability to sit still and do nothing.
All that said, my real point (because no one digresses better than I do), is that while they have been doing a bit of digging lately, they only seem to do it when they are held captive for hours, if not literally then figuratively (because they have to wait in that area for dinner - and they, or the young ones at least, are not good at sitting quietly for that long) I doubt they would be inclined to hang around in someone's yard digging that way otherwise though, not 'play-digging' as these are.
The other type of 'digging' that I see in my yard is one that I have seen pretty much since I moved here. I'm not sure if this is the work of raccoons or opossums, since I have both and the evidence fits both. Whichever animal is responsible for this doesn't actually dig a hole so much as they make cone shaped depressions in the ground with their snout. I think the cone shape fits opossums better but am not entirely certain. In this case, the offender is looking for food, most likely grubs. While walking about my backyard garden some days in mid to late summer I will find numerous such cone shaped depressions in the ground all over the garden, the grass pushed aside by whatever animal pierces the earth in this way. In this case they don't really harm anything, not even the grass.
I don't know what animal might be digging in your yard. If there are lots of earth worms close to the surface, it seems possible that either raccoons or opossums could be digging for them. I don't know about skunks as we don't seem to have them in this area.
Can you tell anything from the evidence left behind? Do they dig up a large, shallow area? Or dig smaller, deeper holes? When the raccoons here dig holes in the buffet area (and now around the patio), the holes are relatively small, roundish holes ranging from 4 to 9in in diameter and anywhere from 2 to 5 or so in deep. Most are closer to the low end of the ranges, so like 4inD x 2in deep. They (the ones here) always dig distinct, roundish holes. They never dig a trough or a larger rectangular or irregular area, nothing but round holes which are deepest in the center, holes that are shaped like the bottom 1/2 of a sphere.
Also, they don't dig really deep holes. The areas where they dig usually end up flat again after a few rains, so other than temporary damage to the grass, they don't otherwise cause much of a problem out there.
You don't have feral pigs over there (yet), do you? They dig up irregular swathes of ground leaving it looking as though it had been plowed under. Other options would include dogs and cats. The latter dig up areas in search of a 'litter box'. Another thing that I've found in my yard is that the raccoons don't dig in difficult areas, not hear that is. They only seem to dig in soft dirt that is easily churned up. They don't ever dig around tree trunks or in areas with firmly rooted plants or grass.
at the store today, i bought some kitty kibble. small bag... 3.5 pounds... that will last a lil while, since i think there is only one visitor. I saved an egg too. Ug...and i still have chx carcass. hope she's not tired of bones yet.
That sounds like a wonderful menu. With the cold weather there (and snow if you still have it), I'm sure she will be thrilled to get the chicken carcass, esp since that's usually not just bones but also lots of flavorful goodies like cartilage, bits of meat, and even possibly some organ meat if the back is included in section of the carcass that remains. The back bones usually conceal some kidney and even liver. I think that part/bone usually ends up attached to the breast in a cut up chicken. (Kitty loves the organ meat hidden in that area. While we humans value the muscle meat most highly, most wild animals consider the organs to be the most prized part of the animal.)
Although Heidi was gone for nearly 6wks last year, all other years she was only gone somewhere between 2 days and 2wks max. I finally decided it was likely the feeding time that caused her to stay away so long last year - or that's my theory anyhow. Once she has the kits, she likes to eat at sundown or even slightly before. Not sure why. Last year after 6wks I found her one evening when I went out right after dark to see if she was coming earlier, and there she was. She had probably been here all along, just earlier - or, at least, that's the theory for now.
Heidi wasn't out there tonight either. Tomorrow, I'm off work. I'll try to remember to go out there before dark to see if she shows up.
I think once Heidi starts nursing the kits, she is hungry early. She goes out to look for something to eat early. Not wanting to leave the kits alone so long, she goes back to them instead of waiting around here for hours (until I finally show up). I figure she probably finds something quick to nibble on, not enough to fill her up, but maybe enough to get by for a short while, and then goes back as soon as possible to protect the kits. That's my current theory.
She probably won't be back tomorrow, since that's only 3 days, but I'll try to get out there just in case.
Cheryl, we've had a couple days of temps near 80, but the nights are much cooler - usually low 60's or high 50's. Today was rainy and didn't get past the 60's even in daytime. One of the things I love about the climate here is the cooler nights, esp. in summer; one of the things I hate is the frequent, seemingly endless high winds. Oh, and the spring monsoons... too much rain may be good for the garden, but not for the mood.
Lizzipa, possums, skunks and raccoons will all dig for worms or grubs, especially in this season when there's lots of activity just below the soil surface.
Sounds like Heidi may well be off delivering her kits. Here's hoping she returns safely and soon, and no doubt very very hungry! Cheryl, I suspect that another reason she's reluctant to leave newborns alone after dark for long is the predators unique to the night hours. Think owls primarily.
It sounds very nice there. I would happily trade the heat here for a bit of wind. As for rain, not sure how yours compares with ours. We get some 52in/yr here and often have long, dreary, rainy periods in winter.
You know, that was my original theory as to why Heidi was determined to get back to the newborns so early. Don't know if you recall when I posited the theory about fear of predators. I wasn't sure which predator though. At one time I even considered maybe gators. Eventually, I talked myself out of the predator theory altogether, being largely unable to think of an answer to 'which predator'. Owls seem like a very good answer to that question. I like it. We do have owls back there, too. Many times I've heard them back there hooting in the early evening hours when I'm out with the raccoons.
Another possibility in addition to owls might be foxes. While I've not seen one at my house, I know that we have them, and I have seen several here and there about the area, both day and night. I ran upon one in the forest once while riding my horse, my human scent no doubt masked by that of the horse allowing me to get so close to the fox before it bolted.
On another occasional I saw one out shopping an empty parking lot outside a nightclub (after it closed) around 2AM, looking for food in the bits of trash humans had left behind. A US gov site lists the fox among the top predators of raccoons. I would think kits would probably be the only raccoons a fox could overtake. So that might be another for the list of predators she's afraid of when leaving the kits alone, although unlike owls, I guess foxes would be a problem even in daylight hours. That takes us full circle back to owls. 'Owls' it is. I think you've got it.
The one thing I know for sure is that she is most determined to eat early those 1st few weeks in order to get back to the infants as quickly as possible and before dark. In the past it has always been during this period that I have had the otherwise impossible opportunity to get videos of her and the others, videos which I can only take in daylight. In the days and weeks immediately after giving birth, Heidi will come to eat well before sundown, an hour or more before, giving me ample opportunity to video her in good light. The others follow her lead in order to be there when the food is made available.
Once the babies are old enough to begin following her from the den, she will switch back to arriving later in the night, apparently not wanting the kits out in daylight, thus the reason I almost never get the opportunity to video them. If you recall, I did manage to get that opportunity just once, and then only with the kits in a nearby tree in the forest edge not actually at the buffet. Even then it was so near sundown, literally 2min before sundown, that I was only able to catch the one quick 2min video of the kits in the 'Heidi tree' before it became too dark for them to show up well (as seen in the 2nd, almost black, video taken immediately after).
Every year it's the same, when the kits are born, the raccoons immediately switch to coming to eat in daylight, and, if I'm savvy enough, during this time I get to take rare video footage of them. Some 2 months later when Heidi decides the kits are old enough to venture near the buffet, she and the others will cease to arrive before dark, that brief video window into their lives closed completely for another year.
In fact, it was because of Heidi's determination to eat early and get back to the kits before dark that she and I had the encounter which opened the door to everything written here. That fateful afternoon when she shocked me so by coming down the fence at my feet in daylight as I was walking about my garden, she had 5 young kits waiting for her back at the den, and she was on a mission to find food for herself so that she could get back to them. That one aspect of her behavior is what made everything else possible.
Thanks for all the feedback about the digging in my yard. I really don't mind the digging, since the dirt is so awful & it means the compost I put down, at the end of the month, may have a chance to integrate better. I just don't want to lose all those big juicy earthworms!
Cheryl, do you get home from work early enough that you might have some Heidi encounters, while her kits are young?
Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diet as the seasons change. They eat insects and larvae, earthworms, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, and eggs. They also commonly eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi, and nuts.
In settled areas, skunks also seek human garbage. Less often, skunks may be found acting as scavengers, eating bird and rodent carcasses left by cats or other animals. Pet owners, particularly those of cats, may experience a skunk finding its way into a garage or basement where pet food is kept. Skunks commonly dig holes in lawns in search of grubs and worms.
You may be right. We always have skunks this time of year, when the mama brings her babies. They used to eat the cat food on the porch, but we've recently stopped putting food out there, because our semi-feral cat isn't well enough to spend much time outside anymore. Also, In addition to worms, we've recently found salmanders in this bed. Thanks for your research!
Liz, most well-tended garden beds have a sufficient earthworm population that the predators don't make a dent. The predators far prefer grubs; earthworms are at best a second or third choice. And heaven help those poor salamanders; all the mentioned predators will happily munch on them as well if they can catch them.
Cheryl, I too have heard that foxes are a big predator for raccoons. Actually I suspect it's unlikely they'd get newborns; while foxes excel at burrowing, I don't think climbing is their best skill and most raccoon nests are well above ground. Their more likely victims are the kits when first emerging from the nest, esp. if their mother is inattentive or less than gifted (a very possible reason why Rupert had no littermates, for example). I can't remember which poor lady was mother to the seemingly brain-damaged kit named Screech; I suspect that mother was tempted to ring the dinner bell for the local foxes. That story was a real testament to the instinctive demand to care for the young; Screech was really likely to get both his mother and himself killed. I could be way off-target, but owls seem to be the right size and have the best skill set to target raccoon nests up in the forest canopy. And owls are a lot more prevalent and widely-distributed than most people think; they are just so good at stealth hunting that they are rarely seen. We have a couple here, for example, that I hearing calling when I'm outdoors during the night. I don't know enough about them to identify species by call, and in six years here I've never caught a glimpse. I love listening to them, though, and since our most common nocturnal wildlife are small rodents, I'm very happy to have the owls in residence. I don't think they're one of the really big species because our neighbor's outdoor cat is always around here at night, looking for her midnight snack and breakfast when the birds arrive at our many feeders. The owls haven't taken her out yet, so they mustn't be the giants.
Sorry 'guys'. I lost my internet connection on Friday afternoon and have only now gotten back online. I went upstairs a few times to reboot the modem/hub but with minimal results. A time or two it came back but only for a few minutes before going out again. As I have no reason to suspect problems with my equipment (at least not at the moment), I suspect my carrier was having some problems.
I had other things to do and didn't want to waste a perfectly good weekend troubleshooting what would likely turn out to be carrier problems, so I just left it alone and accepted that the computer would be 'down' for a while.
It's good to be back online again. Hoping it's for good this time.
Every year when Heidi goes on maternity leave, the remaining group of yearlings becomes quite unruly and down right annoying making it all the more clear who is responsible for maintaining order out there. Last year they were so annoying that I even stopped feeding them except every now and then. I just didn't enjoy spending time with them w/o Heidi around to keep them straight.
They bicker and fight and carry on like a crowd of very bad teenagers looking for trouble. This year is no different, except that now the unruly mob is on my patio. Friday night I expressed my displeasure by not feeding them. I went to the door, turned on the light to check for Heidi. Not seeing her, I yelled at the kits to get them away from the door, and then turned the light off and left - w/o feeding them.
I hadn't really expected that to work, but Saturday evening they were actually out there waiting so quietly (and off the door) that I had to turn the light on even to see that they were there at all. Since they were behaving better, I fed them.
Speak of the angel - to paraphrase - guess who just showed up? Heidi. She's out there now. It rained heavily all weekend esp just before sundown, so I never got out there to look for her, plus, frankly I didn't expect her back this soon. Then just now when I turned on the light and looked out, there she was.
She looks fine, much better than she did in the past when returning after giving birth. Maybe she really does have a smaller litter this year. The one thing I can't quite make sense of though is that she has a few small spots on her back as though she might have been fighting - although the back seems an odd attack spot. They are in the area of the front shoulder and slightly back from that. There is one bare spot that is about the width of a quarter but more elongated, about 2in long. I don't see any sign of blood or open wound (with the naked eye and dim light), just looks like a spot where the fur has been pulled out. The other bare spots are much smaller, barely noticeable, some even pea sized, about 5 in all. Other than that she looks quite good although she seems to be moving slowly, not particularly energetic.
I gave her an extra bit of food vs the others. Then I went back inside and brought out an egg for her along with a small container of canned milk. I don't know if I've stressed this, but Heidi has reached the point now where I can walk up to her, bend down, and put the food on or beside her plate w/o her even backing away. She stopped eating momentarily as I reached in to put the egg beside her food but did not back away or get upset/fearful. I usually don't mention this because it has become so natural. I don't even think about it.
Heidi usually waits until the end of her meal to eat her egg. I know I've mentioned that a time or two. Tonight, however, she ate the egg as soon as I let go of it, while I was still standing there. I left after that so I don't know if she drank any of the milk.
One possible character comes to mind if Heidi's scrapes are due to fighting - although the back still seems an odd place for them. I've been meaning to tell you that I recently learned the Petey has been out there with them all this time.
All along there had been this one youngster out there that was especially bold and also charismatic. He/she was just so cute in the positions he adopted while Shoving and Stealing for food. This particular youngster would also frequently try to challenge Heidi for her food - even when he had food of his own. He would get in there and eat beside her and try, unsuccessfully, to shove her away. She seemed to mostly ignore him. I wondered at the time why she allowed the one youngster to behave that way.
At the time, I didn't think of Petey. I figured he had already been sent away since the breeding and gestating had begun. So many days I wanted to mention the cute youngster out there, but l've just not had much time lately since I started work. I've been too challenged just getting accustomed to a 40hr work week - and stairs. Also, it was difficult even to articulate what was so adorable about him. Of course, at the time I thought he was one of the girls.
Then one night w/in the last 2wks, he started climbing (argh!) on the door when I would turn the light on and begin preparing the food. I could not get him down even when I flailed at the glass (and him) with an empty cat food bag (another sign of who it was). His identity became clear once he climbed high enough to get his lower belly above the bottom kick plate on the door. Standing at the door (inside) with the light on, I could see quite CLEARLY who it was and that I had been right about his gender. If that boy brings a couple kits to my feet in a month or so (allusion to Dennis), I shall have made one heck of a new and earth shattering revelation regarding raccoon gender and mothering. At any rate, seeing the goods right there before my eyes (literally), it all suddenly fit, the Dennis-like behavior, showing no fear, challenging Heidi, climbing on the door, and all of the adorable posturing. Petey is most definitely a male and was here at the time.
That occurred shortly before Heidi disappeared. I was surprised that he was still around but figured once she had her kits, he would be sent away for sure. It was the same with Trouble and some of the other young males - although some, like Trouble, returned again the following year when they reached full sexual maturity.
Petey is still quite small, smaller than the young females, and it's obvious he has not undergone the full adult male transformation. I've read that males often don't reach sexual maturity until age 2. Anyhow, even if the ladies decide to keep him around, so to speak, I figure the will run him off now that the babies are showing up on scene and then let him come back next year when he's grown.
I didn't notice him out there tonight but am not certain yet that he's gone. If Heidi did try to run him off after giving birth, I suspect it would have taken a fight.
I had a very nice treat tonight in addition to seeing Heidi return. While I was standing out there with them I suddenly realized that the raccoon 2 down from Heidi looked like Bast. I gave her a closer look, and sure enough there on her back hip was the semi-bare scar area from one of her old wounds. The hair had grown back in to mostly cover it, but there was a noticeable pattern there where scar tissue had left areas of thin hair where one could still see the underlying skin.
It was definitely Bast. As I watched her, I could recognize her behavior as well. I called out her name, and she raised her head from her meal and looked up at me. Yep, definitely Bast.
I was thrilled to see her again. In fact, just the other night I was thinking about her and wondering how she was doing. She doesn't look large/pregnant, so I gather she has already given birth. Fairly recently I had noticed that the numbers out there had increased dramatically and that many of the new raccoons appeared to be more mature, not yearlings. I recognized 2 others recently but don't recall their names at the moment as these were not ones with which I had had any close up interactions, not ones I had been close to. Well, at least not the one. I'm still trying to 'place' the other. So to recap, 'old' Bast is still with us and still doing well. She was even holding her own out there with the others jockeying for positions at the table.
Great news! So glad Heidi is safely back and looking better than usual; that's time for a huge sigh of relief every year. And Bast; that's awesome! And the fact that she can hold her own with the juvenile delinquents and a crowd scene is excellent news. Putting her foot down with Petey could well be the cause of Heidi's missing fur.
Still chuckling at the image of kits being presented to you by a well-hung Petey. Can't say I've ever heard of a hermaphrodite raccoon, but guess anything is theoretically possible...
ROTFLOL at that Petey image. I sure hope that boy doesn't bring me any kits, but you never know. still lol.
As for Bast holding her own with the juvies, yeah, if you call stealing their food holding her own. Before her injury, Bast was never one to mess with, and in those days the others knew to leave her alone. From the looks of things, she's Bast again, the old Bast. When she had eaten about 3/4 of her food, she conveniently traded places with the yearling next to her (who was eating more slowly and still had a good 2/3 of her food) - and THEN, after taking the yearling's food, Bast had the audacity to lecture the youngster as though the youngster had taken HER food. Oh, yeah, she's back.
Although Bast still has the chutzpah required to command respect from the others - since, I think, that sort of thing is as much mental as anything - when she walks I sense that she is experiencing some discomfort. She seems a little stiff and maybe slightly arthritic. Understand that I'm talking about something very small and subtle, something I might not even notice were it not for my own injuries. It's nothing pronounced. It doesn't look like she is suffering just maybe going through the same kind of thing most of us experience sooner or later, a little stiffness here and there, achy joints when the weather changes, that kind of thing. It looks like average, garden variety, Motrin level discomfort rather than morphine level pain, and she definitely isn't letting it get in her way at all.
Oh, and, it just occurred to me...You 'guys' always seem to want me to try to get pictures of everything, especially things the raccoons do on the patio, things that are difficult to photograph through the glass in darkness, yaddah, yaddah. So, doesn't anyone want me to see if I can get a pic of Petey climbing on the outside of the glass door as viewed from inside the room? ;-)
It's a pretty sure bet that Bast has lingering joint and muscle issues; those were super-traumatic injuries. And annoying as it probably is, you gotta love that chutzpah; I suspect it's a real survival asset these days. If you can pick up subtle signs of less-than-ideal-fitness, you can be sure the other raccoons do so as well; Bast could easily become a scapegoat, but with that attitude it's rather unlikely. Unless she really ticks off Heidi, and I suspect she's much too smart to do that.
Now you know I just LOVE to tease you about that incident, right? It was just TOO funny because I specifically decided it would be ok to post that pick (years ago, the one you lightened for me) since it was too dark for the mess on the patio to be visible. I usually enhance my pics myself but specifically chose to leave that one dark to cover up my mess. About a minute after I posted it, the next post was yours - and you were beaming with helpful pride at having 'fixed' it for me - exposing all my junk, trash bag, leaves, etc. That was just TOO, TOO funny.
As for that pic of Petey, that was a multi-fold joke. You got the joke about you cleaning it up for me, but I'm not sure if you got the other part of the joke. When Petey climbs on the outside of the[glass] door, once his hip area passes the bottom kick plate, ALL manner of things come into full view from inside [through the glass]. I don't think DG would appreciate me taking a pic of that - or you enhancing it, if you know what I mean. (i.e. think Petey is a boy an now an adolescent boy at that)
Actually, I've been trying to convey to him that I don't appreciate him climbing on the door. Among other reasons, I'm afraid he will break the thin wooden bars [that make it look like the door is made up of individual glass panes]. Also, I'm concerned that the girls will learn to follow his lead, and several grown coons all climbing the door at once would not be good at all.
After only a few 'lessons', Petey now seems to be staying on the ground. Thus - and sadly, lol - it may now be too late for that Chippendales shot of Petey on the glass. ;-)
If it bothers you having the critters dig in that one area, I thought of something that might help to deter them. Depends on how much you want the cure though as it may be worse than the disease, just depends on your situation and which 'pain' you prefer. Anyhow, mixing sharp, uncomfortable material in with the soil at the surface might make the critters less eager to dig there and also make the earth worms think twice about coming up to the surface in that area. I'm thinking materials like crushed eggshells, crushed and broken oyster shells, broken clay pottery and flower pots (small pieces), that sort of thing. Not all of them, one of them. Just a thought. If you decide to try it, I would try a small area 1st to see if it works.
Thanks for the suggestion, Cheryl, but I've decided to view the digging as a shallow rototilling - trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Although I wasn't too pleased that my "friends" dug up some things I planted last weekend! Our city has their free compost giveaway, this Saturday, so I'll put compost on top & hope that it will work its way into the awful dirt more easily, since it's been "tilled". Besides my husband would probably have a fit if I "littered" the garden, any more than it's already littered by all my gardening stuff.
The strange thing is this is the first year we've experienced this digging, only in the front bed, in the seven years we've lived here. The only change is the removal of the cat food bowl, from the nearby porch, which the raccoons & skunks used to frequent. Now, that my semi-feral kitty is very geriatric & in "hospice", he's happy to stay inside, so we no longer need the outside bowl. I do feel a bit badly for the mama skunk, whose brought her baby's to eat the past few years. Of course, if you asked me a few weeks ago, after my siamese mix was sprayed, I might have been singing a different tune... especially when we discovered his adventure, in the middle of the night, when he jumped on our bed! He wasn't too thrilled about the bath he got the next morning!!!
ROTFLMFHO at the cat vs skunk vs bed story! Oh, poor kitty - and OMG I can just imagine the trauma of being awakened by that smell. LOL. I can just imagine that no one in your house was very happy with that skunk. Oh, but the babies sure do sound adorable. I've never had the 'pleasure' of seeing a skunk in real life before. They look so cute and fluffy on TV and in pictures. I can only imagine that the little ones must be too cute for words - but that SMELL! Oh, how horrid. (I do have a notion of what the smell is like since my vet told me it's quite similar to the odor my dog had once after her glands were expressed and the stuff managed to get all over her long fur. No matter how much they washed her, they could not get rid of that wretched odor. I was tempted to leave her at the vet's office for a week or two.)
Last night when I went out to feed the raccoons, Bast walked up to me, where I was standing in the center of the patio, and before I even realized what was going on, she very gently and politely stood before me and reached her face/nose past the bag of food I was holding. She put her face against my hand longways, her nose gently touching my wrist, the hairs of her face brushing against the back of my hand. She held her face there for a moment before stepping back to look up at me.
At the moment I was tired, and incredibly sleepy, having been awake much of the prior night due to nightmares. I was surrounded by hungry raccoons, and my leg ached considerably. I wanted to get everyone fed and get to bed. I wanted to take a load off my aching leg and let my heavy eyelids rest. As a result, although her actions touched me greatly, I didn't give them her the time she deserved. I spoke to her, called her name, and then set about feeding everyone - and went to bed where I was sound asleep almost before my head fully settled on the pillow.
Today, when I had more time to think about it, her actions really spoke to me. It was almost as if she wanted me to 'know' that it was she, as if she wanted me to remember her - and, of course, I did, but perhaps she couldn't tell that from my behavior.
Tonight, I called her name. She looked up at me, and then she left her food and walked over to me where I stood, again in the middle of the patio. She walked up to me and just stood there at my feet, looking up at me like a small dog might have done. So, naturally, I rushed inside to get her some grapes. I remembered that grapes were one of Bast's favorite items. Bast, like Heidi, will not eat just anything. She has only a very, very few favorites, and grapes are high on her list.
When I arrived on the patio again, this time with a handful of grapes, 2/3 of the raccoons scattered as they always do when I go out there. The patio is small, and only a handful of raccoons like Heidi and Bast are comfortable being so close to me when I'm standing upright. Bast just walked right up to me as though we were old friends - and we ARE, but I didn't know if she would remember.
I haven't been hand feeding the raccoons in ages, not since I started feeding them on the patio and not even for a while before that, but this was Bast, and somehow with her it just seemed ok. I bent down towards her and held out a grape, and she took it in her mouth every bit as gently as any of my pets. She stood there inches from my feet and body and maybe a foot from my face. She stood there eating grapes and looking up at me from time to time, making eye contact. Her face, her eyes, her body all said she was as comfortable there with me as she was anywhere.
I fed her some grapes by hand and put the rest of the handful on the patio in front of her. She ate all of the hand held grapes 1st before eating any from the patio, a most unusual behavior for a raccoon, virtually all of whom will opt to eat from the hand only if the item isn't available elsewhere. Bast almost seems to enjoy the special treatment of being fed by hand, and since she shows no sign of fear, there is no reason for her to prefer to eat from the ground. Bast enjoyed being 'taken care of' back when I was making such a big production out of feeding her when she was injured. Later when she was well, I could tell that she missed the special treatment, and sometimes she would try to get special treatment again. She enjoyed being spoiled, and with all that she went through, she deserved it.
Tonight when she finished eating the hand held grapes, Bast stood inches from my feet slowly eating the grapes from the patio, and again, totally unconcerned about her proximity to me even with me standing upright. To make sure the others didn't bother her, I stayed there with her at my feet until she finished the grapes. When I turned to walk back to the door, she followed me. Even when I was back inside, the door closed, Bast stood there looking up at the door as if waiting for me to return. I turned off the light, and walked away, and now I'm about to turn off this light, and go to bed. I'm totally beat. It was nice to spend some time with Bast today though, like seeing an old and dear friend again.
Honestly, I thought we might loose Bast, too. I really did, but I wasn't going to give up on her as long as she didn't give up on herself. She's a fighter, that one, and I was happy for the chance to be there for her. Sorry about the bad stuff, but it goes with the territory. It's a true story, and I can only tell the story that I see acted out before me. It's real life, full of good times and some bad.
Glad you came back - or at least stop by some time. :-)
A little while ago I looked out just to see if all the food had been eaten. Bast was standing out there on the patio just a few feet from the door. She didn't appear to be eating or doing anything really, just hanging around - again, like a pet dog. So, of course, I had to fetch her another handful of grapes. lol. she played me well, huh? Ok, now I'm really going to bed.
Oh lord, Liz, the idea of a skunk-sprayed cat in bed with you is just appalling. Love the "shallow rototilling" viewpoint: very healthy way to look at the situation!
Cheryl, I can't believe you've reached maturity without smelling a real skunk! When one is hit by car, that aroma hovers over the roadway for miles. They are absolutely gorgeous animals, and the babies too cute for words. They all, including babies, have just a bit of that musk about them, however, even when they've not sprayed. I always admired the rehabbers who worked with baby skunks in their house, but knew that was a task for which I'd never volunteer.
The good news is that they really don't spray without provocation. I'll never forget the advice given to me before I went out on my first skunk call by the guy who trained me. "Talk to it like it's a cat, Ruth; they love that, and if you keep talking gently they don't spray. And they warn. They do this little dance, stamping the ground with their front feet, then turn their back on you and cut loose. Don't wait for the turn; run when they start to stomp." And you know, it works; I just kept sweet-talking to the pretty black & white "kitty," and I never got sprayed.
I have never even SEEN a skunk nor even heard of anyone in my family/area seeing one. There aren't even any skunk stories in the area, you know, stories from 'the old people' about encounters with skunks. I really don't think we have them here along the coast; otherwise, it seems like someone would have seen one by now. And I even grew up in a rural area some 30+ miles outside the city, the kind of place where you would expect to see wildlife. Oh, and I've never seen one as roadkill either. That should tell the tale, as I would think if we had them around here, one would occasionally get hit by a car, unfortunately. Nope, no skunks in this part of town. We've got raccoon, opossums, squirrels, foxes, wild cats, even wild hogs, and gators, but no skunks. No bears, wolves, coyotes, ground hogs, or any of the other ground hog like critters either. There are tales of panther sitings but no hard evidence of their continued existance in the area. That's about it. We are 'short' a lot of critters that you folks farther inland have.
I love the story of how to make friends with the skunks, temporarily, at least, and how to know when to run. You know, the part about talking to them like cats makes a lot of sense really. That's how I talk to all of my wild and semi wild and even tame but scared critters - to let them know that everything is ok, and I mean them no harm. Works with raccoons and with feral cats, makes sense it would work with skunks, too - of course, the risk if it doesn't work is much lower with raccoons and feral cats. lol.
All this talk of skunks reminds me of something I saw on tv recently involving another creature with a somewhat unique and very effective defense mechanism, the porcupine. I know porcupines and skunks seem quite different, but the similarity is in that both have such unusual and yet highly effective methods of telling others to get packing. Anyhow, I saw this program on NatGeo where this young lion was trying to make a meal out of a porcupine. Being young and inexperienced, the lion figured he could catch and eat the porcupine with little trouble, but it didn't work out that way at all. It was cool to watch the porcupine ever so calmly eluding the lion by just keeping its backside aimed at the big cat. The lion tried a time or two to find a way past the porcupine's defenses, but after he got a couple of those spines/spurs in his foot, he backed off, and the little porcupine quietly waddled away to safety. (We don't have porcupines here either, btw.) You gotta love it when the little guy wins every now and then.
Just FYI, we are under tornado warning/threat all day today. Last night the air outside was hot, thick, steamy, and just felt ominous. When I opened the door to let the cats in, it sucked the door right out of my hands and slammed it shut. Last night it was 80+ degrees at midnight with 91% humidity. Tornados have been on a rampage throughout the south lately as you have probably seen on the news. They have killed almost 200 people in the past few weeks, many in AL, GA, and NC. So far we and FL are about the only states that haven't been hit or hit hard. Today we are in the bulls eye, and it's scary stuff. We are also expecting severe T-storms with large hail (thinking how my car would prefer to be home in its garage rather than the open parking lot where it can be pummelled).
On the news this morning they showed houses in AL that were converted to splinters overnight by tornados. They said if you don't have a basement, you are pretty much a sitting duck if one of those comes through. We don't have basements here. We are too low, and the water table is too high, so it's just not an option here. Well, I'm going to get to work now, and try not to think about it. Whatever happens will happen. I've been protected this long...
You don't know how glad that you should be that you haven't experienced skunks☺ I had a dog (a Hovawart-super smart dogs) that liked to wear skunk spray. She was a farm dog and she was so good at her job that I didn't have any trouble with deer, rabbits or raccoons in my unfenced gardens. We slept with the windows open and around 2am every night; she would get sprayed and the stench would drift in the windows. Ugh! I think that she had some kind of agreement with the skunk family that used her water bowl. I moved it out from the carport and the nightly smells moved too. I finally started spraying her with perfume every day and she stopped visiting with the skunks.
By some time early in the afternoon, the death toll from the tornadoes had been updated to nearly 300, over 200 in AL alone. Unbelievable for a few weeks of tornadoes especially outside of tornado alley. The poor folks in AL, like us, probably can't have basements, the one place of relative safety. It was pretty scary today knowing what the tornadoes had already done in neighboring states, and now to be in the supposed bull's eye ourselves.
Yet again, we have been very lucky. We really only had some rain. I didn't even see or hear much thunder, and to my knowledge there were no tornadoes. The tornado watch has ended. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't still come by. I was a little worried just because of what was happening so close by, but at the same time it was difficult to believe a major tornado might come through here. There hasn't been one in the area in my lifetime, nor to my knowledge has there been one in my parent's lifetimes. We get the very, very rare Cat 1 every decade or two somewhere in the surrounding area, but it has always been so light as to only damage a roof or maybe a shed and a tree or two. But then again with global warming we may be entering into uncharted territory now such that no one can be sure what will happen.
How funny - and awful - about your dog. I can only do my best to understand based on the tale's of others, but having never seen much less smelled a skunk, I doubt I can truly understand the experience. I could tell from the passion in Ruth's response to Liz above that this is something only truly appreciated by those who had been there - and, frankly, I'm glad to have been spared that one. :-)
Recently, last weekend to be more precise, you asked if I will be getting home early enough to spend time with the kits. I actually wrote you a lenghty, too lengthy really (and I'm sure you won't have any trouble believing that.lol), response shortly after you posted the question. However, that was the day when my network went offline due to what I presume was a problem with the carrier. I was offline all weekend after that. I learned of the problem when I tried to send my response post, and somewhere amidst the multiple reboots while trying to resolve the problem, I lost my unsent post. You're probably lucky though. ;-)
The short answer is, yes, I actually get home a bit earlier than before. I get home well before dark. It probably doesn't seem so only because I've been challenged in my efforts to get back in the swing of things and get used to getting up early and working a full 40hr week and in nearly back to back 8hr increments at that. Between knee pain, sleeping issues, and low energy, I've been taxed to the limits. For weeks there all I did was work, feed critters, sleep, and try to get back to sleep.
Things are slowly getting better now all around. It seems a bit of a moot point now since Heidi is back already and has been willing to stay after dark - although once fed she disappears rather quickly - but I am home early enough to spend time out there with them before dark - if I could stay awake, that is. Also, by the time the kits arrive, Heidi will be shifting to a later arrival time anyhow.
Seriously, Cheryl, no skunks??? That's fascinating; I've known skunks everywhere I've lived on the east coast, from here in western NC up to New England. Let's just say that the smell is unforgettable, and simple soap and water don't touch it. You can be driving along with the windows open, and even at high speed, when that aroma wafts in you know some poor skunk bit the dust on the roadway.
Cute story about the porcupine. Can't you just imagine the little guy chuckling to himself as he waddles off into the distance? Porcupine 1, Lion 0.
We had the tornado/hail warnings here last night; thankfully all we got was high wind, torrential rain, and nonstop lightning sound & light effects. My partner has carefully examined the house, and made careful plans to head for the laundry room with the animals if tornados are ever sighted in the area, because the laundry room is the only one without any windows. Now this is a TINY laundry room; you have room to stand directly in front of the machines, that's it. We have two dogs weighing 40-50 lbs. each, four cats, and one of the dogs is predatory (the cats live on a separate floor). Picture all that in a teeny laundry room together. Now realize that it's a circa 1935 wood house set on a rock wall foundation; I can't decide if it would implode or just be sucked up, or both. All you can do in the event of tornado is bend over and kiss your b... goodbye. Oh well, whatever gets you through the night...
You can build a reinforced concrete block closet in the garage (or a shed in the yard). They are not hard to build, but do take one or two strong backs to put together so might be best to hire a crew to build it. The door has to be 'tornado-proof'. They are expensive, but worth it as a normal 'strong' door just won't do.
This link give you the idea, but if you build one, please reinforce the ceiling/roof. It was just dumb of them to not do this.
Wow. Such incredible information. I think I will hold off to see how the weather goes for now. As I mentioned, tornadoes have historically been virtually unheard of here. In my lifetime there have only been a scant handful and all cat 1's which did only minor property damage. Unless weather cycles and/or temp changes bring on some previously unknown weather patterns, we are probably fairly safe here - except for the hurricanes, that is. If the kind of weather the south saw this year becomes a new norm, I may have to reconsider though.
As soon as I read the word 'build', I knew I wouldn't be doing it personally, as I can barely handle like to moderate housework. Oh, and in case I didn't mention this before, I am not allowed to build anything inside or out w/o prior approval by the architectural review board. Frustrating, but it's either deal with the HOA or live further outside the city, and I don't feel prepared to handle the country life w/o help, so HOA it is. And whereas I can get some things past them, there is no way to hide even a small construction project especially if hired hands are involved, not to mention delivery of building materials.
I appreciate the excellent information. I'm going to hold off for now, but I will tag the information in case I should decide I need it later.
Right now I wouldn't build it anyhow. Like I said, unless things change dramatically, the chance of us actually having a severe tornado is so small as to be negligible. Right now I have neither the money nor the energy for such a project, especially when it would likely never be used.
As for the HOA, realize that different states and municipalities have different laws and ordinances covering these things, and HOA's even w/in the same town vary greatly in both their rules and their strictness. I can't get around the HOA that easily. No matter what kind of project it is, whether repair of an existing feature or not, I have submit design plans for architectural review before I can do any kind of building project. I was severely reprimanded some years ago for assembling a vinyl rose arbor, no nails required, in my backyard. I had no idea they would even consider that a 'building project', but they did. A neighbor was fined for cutting down a tree that had fallen on his roof w/out discussing it with them 1st - as they must also be consulted before any trees are cut down, apparently even ones that have already fallen but which are still partially attached to the roots.
But, honestly, that's a moot point, because as stated I would not be interested in building anything right now. It just is not worth the cost and energy expenditure to me at this time, not when I weigh the fact that there hasn't been a single serious tornado within 50miles or more of here in my entire lifetime. If I find that the weather seems to be changing, I may reconsider, but not now.
I"m back in Wisc after being gone a few days... i left a 'plate' of food for my raccoon monday before i left, and last evening set out a chx leg bone - with quite a bit of meat still attached. An egg [i've been buying brown, hormone free, cage free eggs] about a halfa cup of kitten kibble and some cottage cheese. every morning, all that is left is the shell. she licks the 'plate' clean.
Cheryl -- wonderful story about Bast... as you know, i too was one that didn't read as much last summer when she was injured... I know 'nature happens' but i just can't witness [read about] it. so glad she is back.
just throwing this out there... i paid 3.99 a gallon yesterday. Ug.
What a nice feast. Isn't it wonderful to share a bit of our bounty with a wild friend? I've so enjoyed it. It's more fun when there are only a few. Right now I have a huge crowd again, too many, and am hoping Heidi will see the need to trim it down soon.
I used to buy the very good, cage free, eggs from hormone free hens. When I switched back to regular eggs, Heidi let me know that she could tell the difference and was displeased. She does eat the regular eggs now, when she's in the mood, but she clearly preferred the quality of the other eggs.
Yes, I did know that you disliked that part of the story. Still, as much as I hated to see people driven away and as much I understood, I had to tell the whole story, the true story, as it unfolded before me. What was going on at that time was so intense and so dramatic that I could not have kept it to myself, nor could I have told a different story while it was going on. I couldn't even pay attention to other things at the buffet while the Bast story was playing out before me. It simply was the story at the time, the only story I had to tell. In retrospect, I'm glad I did tell the story if for no other reason than to document it for posterity.
I'm wondering now, should I leave that part out of the Heidi book? But then, would Old Yeller and Bambi be the same without the sadness? Is it perhaps the sadness which makes the happiness brighter still in comparison? Curious. I don't really know.
I sure hope your DH has a car that gets good mileage. I put just under $60 in my Honda the other day, something I never thought I would see, and am starting to miss the Civic (This one is an Accord, a 4dr, and automatic, so doesn't get such great mileage as my old 2dr, std, Civic did.) When attending the Citadel, I drove around 100 miles/day minimum, sometimes 2x that when, in summer, I found myself with a 8AM class and a 10PM class the same day. Thankfully, gas wasn't nearly so high then.
To save money, I quickly traded in my 8cylinder Firebird for a Honda CRX, a tiny, tiny car that only seated 2 people and which reminded me of a toy car. I must admit that I was always a bit fearful of a collision with a larger (real) car, but that little car got about 50mi/gal and made a huge difference in my gas budget (compared to 12-15 for the Firebird).
The gas thing is scary though for those of us for whom driving is a must not an option. There is no public transportation from here to where I work or even to the grocery store, so whatever the cost, I will have to pay it. I am frustrated sometimes when people on the news speak of driving as though we all have the option of taking the subway or bus or trolley. It just isn't so.
I'm glad you've enjoyed hearing about Bast again. She seems determined to be a big part of the story. More below.
As I've mentioned the throng of raccoons out there on the patio these days is a bit daunting. I'm not afraid of them, as they always move away giving me space, are never pushy or 'grabby', but the crowd is just less intimate than the handful I'm accustomed to - and they eat like the horde they are.
Last night as I stepped out, food in hand, and moved toward Heidi to feed her 1st as is customary, another raccoon stepped boldly up to me. I was just about to push this other raccoon away when I realized it was Bast. "Bast!" I said, drawing back the arm that had almost shoved her away. I am always happy to see my old friend.
I have said a great deal about this, but ever since that one year when I took care of her while she was injured, Bast has wanted to be the center of attention again. I really think she enjoyed the attention. Every year when she returns she steps out of the crowd and comes to me as if to say, "Remember me? It's me. Bast. I'm not one of the 'others'. I'm special." Once she was able to fend for herself way back then, I tried to back away. I didn't want her to be dependent on me, and she's not, but like most of us, she still enjoys being treated like she's special.
Last night was one of those nights when I would have like to have a webcam, except for the mess, so you could see what I hope to describe. Bast walked up to my feet and stayed there standing sideways against my shins. I ended up literally bending over her to feed the others waiting around the edges of the patio. I was in the central area of the patio when Bast came up to me as she did. I put Heidi's food down 1st just to the left of us, and then in an instant, decided to put Bast's food down right there where she stood, right there in the middle of the patio - and so I did.
I wasn't sure how that would work out. Not one of the other raccoons is even willing to eat anywhere near the middle area. They all feel much more comfortable around the outside of the patio. They will come into the central area to wait for me and to gather around me, but they prefer to eat on the other 'circle'. I think in the central area they feel too exposed both to anyone (else) who might come from the house and to each other, since anyone in the middle is sort of 'trapped' there being unable to 'exit' without finding a way past the others eating around the other edge of the patio.
There is only so much real estate around the outer edge of the patio though, and some of that is taken up by plants and such. It doesn't help, either, that the raccoons can't eat too close to each other w/out arguing. you know, the usual "don't touch me. she's touching me" stuff you get from kids. Early on I tried to solve the space dilemma by putting some food 'stations' in the central area, but long after I turned the light off and left, I found that no one was eating from the central piles of food even though they were fighting over food around the edges. I've since stopped putting any food anywhere but the edges - until last night, that is, when I put the food there at my feet for Bast.
Bast, unlike the others, was totally comfortable eating there in the center. She is not afraid of me nor of them, so the center is perfect for her. She doesn't ALLOW anyone to eat near her anyhow, so in the center she has lots of space to call her own. Talk about attitude, just the night before she ate peacefully at a spot on the edge while the 2 piles of food on either side of her sat untouched (because the others know better than to come that close) even though there were raccoons waiting to eat.
Bast actually seemed to relish the attention and 'special-ness' that came with being fed in the center of the circle. She had always wanted to be special again, and now she is. I hadn't been too sure how it would go when I 1st put the food there, but it worked out perfectly - for all.
I wish you could see Bast because she is so laid back, almost comically so. She makes me laugh but in a good way. She ate so calmly even as I bent over her to reach and feed the others around the outer area. I stayed out there for awhile, for as long as I could stand up w/out too much discomfort, and the entire time Bast ate there only inches from my feet. There was nothing tense about her even with me standing there over her, even with my shadow falling upon her. The entire time she had an air of "Look at me. I'm special again. I get to eat in the center and with the human."
Of course, it goes w/o saying that I went back inside to get her some grapes. I had purchased 2 bags of the red grapes on sale, the ones they like best. I pulled 2 sprigs off of a bunch and took those back out with me. I fed them 2 Bast by hand. I dropped a few on the patio in front of her, but she made it quite clear that she preferred to be hand fed, preferred the attention, the ceremony, and the special-ness of receiving her grapes 1 at a time and by hand.
I tossed one grape over to Heidi to gauge her interest. She quickly grabbed it, so I pulled off a small bunch still attached to the stem and tossed them over to her. One of the others made a quick move for that bunch which landed a bit to one side of Heidi. Heidi let out her characteristic grumble but made NO attempt to grab the grapes. Still, although the coveted bunch of grapes sat there 'unguarded' while Heidi finished the one she was eating, the other raccoon backed away, and no one dared touch those grapes. It was clear testimony to Heidi's continued power over the group. A few minutes later, Heidi picked up the bunch of grapes and ate them.
In between feeding grapes to Bast, I tossed a few to the others. I went back for another small bunch. When those were gone, I had to tell them that we were saving some for tomorrow. While I was feeding Bast the grapes, something next door scared the others, and they all scattered, disappearing from the patio. Only Bast remained there with me. She seemed quite undaunted as she stood there as close as Widget might have stood had I been feeding him some treat. She stood so calmly. It was nothing short of amazing to observe.
The grapes ended, and as I backed away, Bast went with me. It was a total reversal of the norm. She remained so close that I was a bit uncomfortable even though I'm not afraid of her. It was like she was invading my personal space. But she wasn't being at all threatening. She was acting just like a pet. I thought she was going to go inside with me.
As I stepped inside the door, she stood on her hind legs holding her hands out toward me. I've no idea what that meant, but it told me that while her one leg will never be normal again, she is clearly well enough now to be comfortable standing (and balancing) on her 2 back legs alone, and that's a big thing for Bast who for the very longest time could not eat with her hands because her back legs could not hold her weight. I've also noticed that this year she stands upright at all times, yet another improvement since last year she had to sit down about half of the time to take the weight off her legs. She has come a long, long way.
It was difficult to leave with Bast standing there looking at me, but I forced myself to turn the light off and walk away. I was tired, and I needed to save some grapes for another day.
Keep the bad times in with the good - it makes the book more reality based than fantasy based and will lift the spirits of those that have known crippling injuries and lived on with the help of others. I was half afraid that she didn't make it through the winter since she didn't come to the patio with the others. I am so happy that she is well and strong.
Be careful that she doesn't try to take Heidi's place as that seems to be something worth fighting for and she would be the one to do it. Heidi had those bite marks at the same time that Bast returned. And Bast may be doing things out in the forest that you don't know about. I am sure that Heidi is old enough to be losing her dominance some year soon. It is a sad thought, but it is a reality that has to be faced...
Bast isn't back to 100%, and it appears now that she never will be. That's why I'm glad to see that she is able to do things like stand the entire time she's out there and stand up on her hind legs, things she couldn't do even last summer.
Her stance is a bit 'crooked'. She stands 'right' on 3 legs, but the one hind leg, the one I always believed was broken, didn't heal quite as straight as before. She stands on the inside of that foot rather than squarely on the bottom as is normal. It's clear from looking at her that the leg will never be completely right again, but she is able to get around well on it, and that's what matters.
She does still have a scar on her right hip. That was where one of those giant swollen areas was, the things that made her look like the hunchback for a while and probably went a long way toward making me believe she was done for. The swelling is gone now. The scar tissue has shrunken, and hair has grown back in to cover all but a relatively small portion which as I looked at it last night I suddenly could see very clearly was in the perfect pattern of a bit mark, two semi-circles with space between them representing both upper and lower teeth. Back when she was so badly injured it was not clear just what had happened where. One could only speculate, but she now bares a permanent marker to tell the story of what really did happen.
Yes, of course you should include the story of Bast's injury; those who aren't comfortable reading it will simply skip it, as folks did here. It's an important chapter in the history of the diner, revealing a great deal about Heidi as well as about Bast. Nature is many things, and constantly kind is not on the list; that's the real world. The story ends happily, which is wonderful for kids. But frankly, kids these days are pretty darn aware of the down side of life, thanks to the world reaching them daily through TV and internet. They grow up a whole lot faster than we did; I really think that's a shame, but it's true.
I suspect you're right that Bast is now "differently abled," to be PC, to the point that she wouldn't attempt a coup; and that's a good thing, much as we've all grown to love her. Certainly I don't think she'd attempt it unless she was sure she had your complete support, and I don't see that happening, ever. I think you can enjoy allowing her to feel special without feeling any guilt or worry. There are many miraculous moments in this tale, but the Bast chapter is perhaps the biggest miracle. You quite simply saved her life, and she well knows it; that makes her relationship with you unique, and impossible to explain without the attached history.
Thank you both for your opinion on the issue of Bast and the book. I really appreciate your views on this.
I do think from Bast's behavior around me now that she does realize that she probably wouldn't have made it if I hadn't been there to help her, not just to provide the food as I do for them all, but to keep the others away from her so that she could eat (and seek out the highest calorie food I could find for her in an effort to keep her from starving back when she was in such pain that she would only eat a few bites).
At one point I recall that she was truly a rack of bones. That was the point at which I really became concerned that she would not make it. She couldn't afford to loose another ounce and still have the energy and resources to heal. Eating was such a struggle for her then. It took her a while to choke down even a small amount of food. The others were not going to allow her to eat. They were going to take the food from her, and then she would have starved. Holding them back while she ate was a constant battle even with the vinegar/water.
Now, she absolutely seems just like a small dog, a pet. She seems to understand that one need have no fear of someone who saved you from almost certain death. When you are really, really sick, too sick to help yourself, that when you find out who your true friends are and who you can trust. Those who take care of you when you can't take care of yourself can surely be trusted when you are well. I hadn't really expected an animal to get that. I guess I insult their intelligence, for it seems quite clear from Bast's behavior that she does get it.
Tonight I put Bast's food in the center again. She seems to like it there. Then I went back inside and emerged with a folding stool and a bag containing all the loose grapes that had fallen to the bottom as those don't usually keep well.
Sometimes raccoons are afraid of anything new, any break with the routine, so I wasn't sure how Bast would handle the stool. Not only was she fine with it, she stood there sniffing it as I was unfolding it - just like Widget would have done. All the while, I had been holding this bag of grapes. I guess she wanted to communicate to me that she really wanted a few of those grapes. As soon as I got the stool assembled and sat down, Bast grabbed my leg and squeezed it gently.
It's humorous in retrospect. She didn't scratch me or hurt me in any way, but she scared me. I just wasn't expecting that. She reached out, put one hand on either side of my leg about mid calf and then sort of gently but firmly squeezed her two hands together. She didn't squeeze by closing the individual hands as if squeezing a lemon. She squeezed the two hands together while holding them both rather flat, like squeezing an accordion (except that I don't know how one grips an accordion or if ones hands actually remain 'flat' in that case). I must have conveyed my fear as she quickly let go. After that she kept her hands to herself.
It's like she now has no fear of me and doesn't understand why I would have fear of her either. Her behavior right now is so sweet and seemingly innocent that it makes me laugh in retrospect at her sort of hugging my leg and me momentarily freaking out. Once again, tonight, she left her food and left grapes on the floor and stood there at my knee very obviously wanting to be hand fed and just wanting attention.
Tonight I was late getting back out there to feed the raccoons. Last night I was late, too, so late, in fact, that the raccoons had all given up and left. The past few days have just been 'crazy'. Tonight Heidi was gone by the time I got out there, but some of the others were still out there as was Bast.
I gave food to everyone who was out there. A few others arrived before I finished. By that time I had run out of food in my bag. I went back in for more food and then watched them a few minutes through the door. Bast had a pile of food, and 2 or 3 newcomers did not. I was curious to see how well Bast held up under the situation.
Actually, the new ones who didn't have food yet, didn't go near Bast. They tried to get food from some of the others. It all looked promising in terms of Bast's ability to handle herself. The others certainly don't seem to see her as a push over by any means.
A few minutes later I went out and gave the others food. I also have bast some 5-10 grapes and tossed one to each of the others. When I left, Bast left her food to follow me back to the door, a fact I lamented as another raccoon took her food while she was gone. Once inside, I decided to use this opportunity to again observe the group dynamics.
I watched as Bast slowly, calmly, and peacefully insinuated herself into one side of another raccoon's food, eating with the other raccoon, neither of them fighting. Huh? Well, that seemed to go well. After that I went out one last time to give Bast another pile of food, this time in the center area as that seems to work best for her.
A little while later I looked out there again and found Bast wandering around sampling some of everybody's food - and they all seemed to accept this. Interesting. This time I caught a glimpse of Snowball out there eating with some of the younger raccoons. I've seen Puddle out there a few times, but I haven't seen much of Snowball in a while.
Tonight I checked on the raccoons fairly early, shortly after dark. I was surprised to find no one out there, not one raccoon even though it was totally dark out. I wondered if this had anything to do with the fact that I had been out there earlier. In the hours just before dark I had mowed the lawn and done some serious pruning and weed removal. Whenever I do substantial yard work cutting things down and 'rearranging' their environment it tends to leave them feeling uncomfortable. In the wild such changes might signal danger of some kind, so they are reluctant to waltz on up to the patio like nothing happened. Of course, it's also possible that I just checked for them too soon, before they arrived.
After that I took a nap. When Widget finally managed to wake me, it was after 11PM. When I turned on the patio light again expecting to see no one, there at the door sat 2 raccoons calmly waiting for dinner. By the time I got out there, others had arrived, including Bast. I was happy to see Bast. I hadn't seen her since my last post. A few nights I had gone out there to feed Heidi but had not seen Bast. It looks as though Heidi has been 'removing' some of the extra raccoons out there, cutting the herd down to size before her kits are ready to come to dinner, and I was afraid she may have cut Bast from the pack this year. Thus it was good to see Bast again. Heidi eventually showed up, too. Even with Heidi and Bast there were fewer than 10 raccoons out there. I haven't seen Petey in a while now. I was pretty sure she would send him on his way once the kits arrived.
Bast was her normal self, following me around like a small dog, standing on her hind legs to sniff my pockets - w/out touching anything. I gave her a handful of grapes and gave Heidi the remains of a watermelon 1/2.
I did get a quick photo of Bast last night. I had been wanting to show you how good she looks now and also show you her scar. By the time I ran back for the camera she was almost finished eating. Whereas any other time she would have been eating up close to me and facing me, once I got the camera she insisted on eating over there (actually only 2ft away.small patio) where she was partially blocked by the bucket. Moments after I got this one picture, she left for the night, so this is it, but at least I got a picture.
Note how 'normal' she looks now. This is why I didn't even notice her at 1st when she returned this year. She looked just like everybody else. It was only when I looked at her face that I thought, "Wow. that raccoon sure looks a lot like Bast." Even then I actually thought it might be Bast or it might be a daughter of Bast since she did have kits last year. It was only after seeing the scar on her hip and the leg that isn't quite right that I knew it really was Bast herself. She looks so normal now.
Look how she has 'plumped up' and filled out nicely since her injury and how nice her coat looks now compared to that dry, straw-like fur she had a few years back.
Also note the scar on her hip. It's difficult to see in this photo, but the circle is actually an upside down semi-circle with some random scar tissue below it. In addition to the circular scar there is also a semi-circle scar below it, like a smiley face. This is just a scar now, no open wounds, no swelling or drainage, just a place where the fur hasn't grown back. The two semi-circles, top and bottom, really look like a bite mark when viewed up close.
Here, too, is Heidi from last night. She has cat food, watermelon, and a few red grapes. That watermelon wasn't very good. It's too early for local melons, but having gone so long w/o my fav fruit, I could not resist buying it.
Please forgive me the extra mess. The patio is a mess anyhow, but yesterday just before sundown I ran around pruning, cutting weeds, and sheering off shrubs. It got dark before I could do cleanup - also I'm planning to do more of this later today, so thought I would wait to do one cleanup. Thus there is a lot of plant material on the patio edges where it fell.
One reason for this photo was to show you the injury on Heidi's back. It's worse than I said, but not serious. It's not an open wound, and never was. It looks more like a section of fur was ripped out. Clearly life out there in the forest is rough.
Some have mentioned concern about Heidi loosing her position as leader because she may be getting too old to fight the younger ones. There is no doubting that she is getting old now, and she could loose her position or one day fail to show up at all; however, I wanted to point out that Heidi doesn't actually fight her own battles all the time or alone. Just as our leaders (and monarchs of the past) don't do the fighting but rather call the shots, so it is with Heidi.
Heidi has younger but mature raccoons who do the fighting, chase the unwanted ones out, etc. I've seen this very clearly back when I was sitting out there with them for an hour or so daily. Heidi signals and her henchmen act. It's pretty cool to see. Sometimes she will go with them when a group goes to run an intruder away, other times she stays at her 'plate' eating and watching to make sure things are going according to plan.
I believe this is why she allows certain, chosen older ones to come back each year. I think these are her warriors for that year. The chosen warriors may change year to year depending on who shows herself to be a good and smart fighter and willing to take orders. Surprisingly, for a few years, Dennis was in that elite group.
Each year there also appears to be one who is chosen as 2nd in command, the 2nd Lieutenant, the one who commands the troops in accordance with Heidi's wishes when Heidi is not around. Having the 2nd Lieutenant around also allows Heidi to eat in peace while the 2nd L keeps lookout, issues commands where needed, and keeps the youngsters in line. Not sure who that is this year. May even be Bast since she seems to be sticking close to Heidi this year and is fussing at the youngsters a lot.
All in all, it's a very smart arrangement, very smart, probably much smarter than most people would expect. It also means that Heidi won't necessarily loose her position as leader just because she isn't able to beat the younger ones. She doesn't have to fight one on one and beat all opponents like in boxing to keep her title. As long as the troops remain dedicated to her, she's the leader. Given that she has been such a smart and fair Queen, she may keep their loyalty for a long time. She treats the others quite fairly, cares about what's best for them, and makes excellent decisions which keep the group safe and allow them to keep ownership of their turf. As such, she is a wonderful Queen at any age, and they would be hard pressed to find a replacement. Hopefully, they know that, and will keep her as their Queen for a long time to come.
Cheryl, when I opened your pics of Heidi, my DH was looking over my shoulder & I was just explaining how Heidi rules the roost with a firm hand, combined with fairness & compassion & telling him about your observations of their "society" & her leadership over the years... then I read your post with your thoughts about Heidi's "tenure" as leader of the pack. I hope you're right & that Heidi will continue to be the venerated leader & elder!
I'm not sure if Heidi could actually take some of the younger ones now one on one - not the yearlings, but say the 3yr olds, the ones that are old enough to have learned to fight and still young enough to be strong and energetic. I think we may already BE in that period when they keep Heidi on as their ruler even when she can no longer take on any contender on her own. Of course, that's just my perspective on all of this. I don't know for sure how well she can still fight.
I do, however, know for certain that the others in the group often do the fighting for her like when she is cutting some of them from the group this time of year to thin the group down before her kits arrive at the buffet. I've witnessed Heidi signaling and some 5 or 6 of her daughters leaving their meal to head over to the fence to prevent that raccoon from coming over into the yard.
Not only is it incredible to see how she commands them but also to see how they handle it like a football play or a military scheme. As the group heads to the fence, they fan out. It's as if they all know the 'play' ahead of time. Each raccoon seems to have a position and know it. They each go directly to the right place so as to cover the entire fence (and even around the corners) in a well balanced manner. It's all very well thought out and disciplined as though practiced. Very cool to see.
I, too, hope the group is wise enough to keep Heidi as their leader well into the future. They are her daughters and grand daughter after all. That should help a little, maybe. I guess we will see how things play out in time.
Tonight the raccoons didn't show up. I ran the [automatic] sprinklers just before dark and wonder if that may have scared them off. I don't have the sprinkler running on a regular schedule. With 52in annual rainfall, I don't think it is necessary most of the time. Watering too frequently just encourages shallow roots (and a small wallet), so I only run the sprinklers when we are having a bit of a drought, when weather.com says watering needs are high and when I notice signs of dryness out there.
Last year due to my unemployment and resulting need to keep expenses low, I didn't run the sprinklers at all. As a result, I guess the raccoons have grown unaccustomed to the sprinklers (which they used to ignore completely). As I mention often, change makes them uncomfortable. Apparently, when they arrived at the back gate this evening to find the sprinklers running, they left.
I checked a few times after the sprinklers had finished, but still no raccoons. Finally, just now as I was doing my last routine before bed, I looked out to find Bast sitting at the door alone. She was too cute. I gave her the usual bowl of food and handful of grapes. I also put out the 2nd 1/2 of the watermelon since I have no where to store it another day. I wondered at the time if I should put out food for others who might show up, but seeing no sign of other raccoons the whole time I was out there, I decided against it.
I had barely gotten in bed when I heard the sound of Raccoons fighting, much like the sound cats make, that 'cursing' sound. I vaulted out of bed and ran to the door fearful that Bast was under attack. I can't help it. I still worry about her. I arrived at the door and threw on the light to find Bast out there alone eating peacefully, no sign of another raccoon anywhere.
Clearly the sound I had heard had been Bast letting the intruder know that her food was HER food and not up for discussion. I had to laugh at myself for even doubting her. I went out there and put some more food out. A few minutes later I checked again expecting to see Bast and one or more others eating, but once again I saw only Bast still eating, still peacefully. I don't know if the other raccoon left after the skirmish or if Bast had refused to allow anyone else to eat on the patio until she was through. Either way, there now seems ample evidence that Bast can take care of herself again, and I'm very happy for that.
with DH up her with me [we came back to the Park on Thurs afternoon] -- i dont feed the raccoon while he's here... she came out in broad daylight yesterday... She's not really big - though looks like it from a distance. I didnt want her hanging from the hummer feeder -- so i went over an knocked on the window -- i was maybe 6' from her ... i watched her look for food... there was a lil bit, less than a 1/4c of kitty kibble [i did put a huge cup of kibble out the night before, and that was left over]
she walked about the yard for about 10-15 min before i didnt see her anymore. I'm going to refill that container -- it's a 1pound deli container ... i'll put kibble in it plug an egg [i bought 2doz yesterday] for when it's raining -- which it is again... i have this little area under apart of the walkway/deck where i can slide it under so the kibble stays dry. otherwise it goes at the edge of the yard by the wheel barrow -- i really didnt want to put the food bucket in the yard...
BUT -- we were surprised to see her out in the daylight... it was about 8:00pm.
That's really not unusual at all for her to be out in daylight now. It only seems so because, in their somewhat overzealous attempt to keep people away from rabid animals, officials have convinced us all that raccoons never come out in daylight unless they are rabid. It simply is NOT true.
This is the time of year when females are nursing young. As a result, they are never satiated, always very hungry. This is one time of year when they are most likely to be seen out looking for food before dark. Part of the problem, no doubt, is the fact that 'dark' comes so late now. My theory is that they are too hungry to wait that long to eat. It would be like us having to wait until 9 or 10PM to eat dinner when we are accustomed to eating at 6. They may also be eager to eat and get back to their kits before dark, since that's when a lot of predators are out.
Whatever the reason, I can tell you from personal observation, that this is the time of year when they are out walking and looking for food in the hours prior to dark, sometimes 2 or 3 hours before dark. Recall that it was during this time of year that Heidi 1st came down that fence at my feet (in broad daylight). I had just come home from work and was walking around the back garden looking at the flowers. I believe she was trying to get into the yard to get to the bird food (boss) I used to always keep there. I had already put the BOSS away that day (to keep her out of it), but apparently she didn't know that and was eager to get there quickly to eat and get back to her kits. It was well before daylight at the time, and since that was the 1st time I met Heidi (one on one), her behavior was not yet influenced by our friendship.
You do realize, of course, that she will continue to look for food at your place now that you have established that as a good food source. If you don't put anything out at all for a while she will start showing up much later but will likely still come by to check just in case. Researchers say, and it makes sense, that when 1st waking up in the afternoon and hungry for 'breakfast', they will go to the place where they have been most successful recently in finding food. After that they work through the rest of their list of sources from best or most likely to worst or least likely.
I'm guessing your DH doesn't think it's such a good idea to feed her. I worry about that, too, but I've been feeding my group for some 6 or more years now w/o problems, so I'm getting less concerned - even though it is still possible that one could become problematic. Heidi is incredibly well behaved. I don't worry about her at all. The youngsters (yearlings) are a bit rowdy. If there are any problems, it's most likely to come from the yearlings. Thankfully, Heidi recently cut the group down to some 6 or so females. It's much less rowdy out there now.
when i left on Sunday [moms day] i had put the one hummer feeder in an empty 30gal trash can ... .she seems to drain it if i leave it hanging over night -- and didn't want it sitting empty in case some hummers came by [the green one is back - has been a few days now]
BUT -- when i came back thursday - the feeder was sitting next to the trash can. so she pulled it out and drank what little syrup was in there... she did walk up on the back patio, and look over in the corner ... so she is obviously very comfortable around my place. I do not worry about them being in and around the yard -- as long as i know they are there and not walk out and spook them [her]
I'm sure Dh thinks if they are looking for food and dont find any -- they can get destructive. PLUS with us having our own fur kids...
I'll leave the dish and egg towards the back end of the property ... i dont want her too comfortable eating on or near the back door.
Your DH is definitely taking the safe approach. It's much easier to avoid starting something than to stop it once it becomes a habit. It's hard to put that genie back into the bottle.
When I fail to feed them, even for a prolonged period of time, mine don't seem to intentionally do destructive things. They don't seem to get angry and do things to express their frustration.
However, as I've mentioned before raccoons are not good at sitting around and waiting calmly, not the younger ones, at least. They are like those fidgety people who are constantly picking things up and 'playing' with them, twisting them, turning them, sometimes even breaking them absentmindedly. They can't sit still and wait. They have to have something to do, so they play with things, climb things, dig holes, etc whenever they are 'stuck' at the buffet or out on the patio for long periods of time waiting.
They (mine) don't do serious damage, but they will sometimes dig small holes, pull up newly planted iris and the like (because they love to play in fresh dirt), knock things off the baker's rack, etc. They don't cause major damage, just minor things while entertaining themselves for long periods out there. And that's only because they are 'stuck' out there on the patio or at the buffet waiting for hours, something which is quite unnatural for raccoons, and something which your raccoon(s) won't be doing.
Still, one can never say what any one raccoon might do. Petey, that little rascal, had developed a most undesirable tendency to climb on the door. Thankfully, he only seemed to do that when I showed up. When he saw me in the kitchen scooping up food for them, then he would climb the door as if trying to get my attention. He never seemed to realize that I was fixing the food and would be there in a minute - or maybe he actually thought that climbing on the door was essential to getting fed (1st he climbed on the door, then he got fed, like superstitious logic, he might have come to believe one caused the other.) At any rate, I'm glad he's gone now. I was sure the ladies would not tolerate his presence once those babies showed up.
At any rate, the problem with Petey climbing the door illustrates quite well what can happen, however rare, and how impossible it is to stop once started. No amount of fussing, yelling, banging on the glass, slapping him with a cat food bag through the glass, etc, would keep him from doing it again and again. Luckily, he didn't damage the wooden strips on the door. I was afraid he would break one. I really can't imagine him climbing on those 'bars' when he's a fully grown male. Anyhow, I imagine this is the kind of thing your DH is trying to avoid.
As for possibly walking out when she is out there, I totally understand your concern. I was afraid of that for a long time. These days I just walk out there the same way I walk into a pen full of horses, fully expecting them to move out of my way and they always do - horses and raccoons. From my experience, I doubt you would ever have a problem if you did walk out there and up to/near her unexpectedly. Her natural tendency would be to move away from you.
Unless you left her absolutely no avenue of escape, which would be difficult to do unintentionally, she would move away from you or even run around you if necessary to get away. Unless you hemmed her up in a building (like a shed) or somehow got her in a corner from which she could not escape (almost impossible), she would move from you. I have found that to be the tendency of all of the raccoons who have come through here including even the mean ones like Cruella.
This tendency of raccoons to move away from you when frightened formed the basis of my attempts to pet them early on. Having seen that they always moved away, I realized I could try to touch the back of a raccoon, especially one that was already pointed away from me, and do so with relative safety knowing that if it scared them, they would just rush away from me. They just don't have any inclination to turn and strike out at you if they can run away instead. Over the years, I've used that information to touch quite a few raccoons, not one of which has ever tried to strike out and scratch or bite me.
Last night I checked outside and found Heidi waiting by the patio alone. Heidi, being smarter and more careful than the others, always waits, no on the patio but under the cover of the camellia beside the patio and the door. When she sees me coming to the door, she comes near the door so I will see her. She only come right up to the door (as seen in some of the pictures similar to the cover photo for this thread) when I call her name - which I find so adorable.
I can be sitting some 6ft or so from the door while scooping food into the smaller bag (I take out there with me), and Heidi can be over by that bush and out of direct sight of the door. Still the moment I call her name in a low voice from across the room, her face will appear in the door/window. Works every time. It's like she comes to the door saying, "yes, what do you want?" I just love that. So cute.
Heidi is SO different from the others. She is such a pleasure to have around whereas the others can be frustrating at times. Bast behaves nicely, too. I think it's a function of age. The ones that are say 1-3yrs old are more likely to be disruptive. They just have to much energy at that age. Heidi (and Bast) can sit out there calmly and quietly and never, ever bother anything. She won't touch anything, she won't dig holes, she won't climb on the baker's rack knocking things off, she won't play with things. She just sits quietly showing great respect for my home. And she never tries to climb on the door, thank goodness. In all of the years I've known her, Heidi has always been this way. The only things she ever messed with were food items. She will damage bird feeders, hummer feeders, and such.
Last night Heidi had another wound on her back. This one is larger, more circular, and looks like a worse wound. The other one just seemed to be a patch where fur was ripped out. While I'm sure that hurt, it didn't leave an open wound that might get infected. This one was open. I hadn't seen her in a few days, so I never saw it open. By last night it had a good 'scab' over it and appeared to be healing well. Still, I wonder what is causing these wounds.
My guess is since I've not been feeding them daily - some days I fall asleep and they are gone by the time I get out there, other nights they don't show up due to bad storms - they may be fighting over food. Another possibility is that she may be fighting with the ones she ousted from the area. She just recently ran a bunch of the others off, Petey and a number of older females included. Some of the others probably didn't take that very well, especially since they are nursing now and would surely be reluctant to leave such a good food source.
Oh, I know you aren't worried about her having rabies when you see her out in daylight. I was just voicing my concern, reiterating really, that many raccoons are needlessly attacked and even killed because of the erroneous (and almost unanimous) belief that raccoons don't normally go out in daylight (and thus must be rabid if they do).
Most people seem to read posts regardless of whose name is on them, so I often add such general comments for posterity (all those who come along later and read some portion of the posts w/o starting anywhere near the beginning). I tend, w/o giving it much conscious thought, to think that the person to whom the post is addressed will somehow know which things are specifically for them and which are for the general reader. In retrospect, I can now see how that may not always be the case and how the practice may sometimes prove confusing. At any rate and for what it's worth, I never suspected that you had an issue with her coming out in daylight.
As for work putting a crimp in one's PC life, and other aspects for that matter, I totally know where you are coming from. I'm getting a little better with time, but since I resumed full time work, I often cannot even find the time and energy to make a s/w for lunch much less read/write posts online. I have to try to see the humor in that...
Tonight I went to the patio door, turned on the light, and looked out. Not a raccoon anywhere. I stood there for a minute of so looking out at the empty patio and was just about to turn the light off again and leave when I saw slightly chubby (probably the effects/appearance of nursing not really fat) raccoon emerge from the shrubs and come semi waddling toward the door at a pretty good clip.
I would know that 'waddle' anywhere! It was Heidi. She had apparently seen the light come on from wherever she was, leaving perhaps, and come hurrying back. It was just so sweet to see her hurrying for the door just like a pet coming home for dinner. She knew just where she was headed and why, and she knew the appearance of the light indicated that dinner was about to be served. :-D
The newer spot on the back of her neck is open now and has been for a few days. When I 1st saw it the spot was dry and healing over nicely, but a few days ago she arrived with it partially open. It looked as though she had probably scratched the scab off. Since then it has been open, 'wet', and not looking as good as when it was dried over. It doesn't look awful though, nothing like Bast's wounds did. Unless things go horribly wrong, I suspect it will heal just fine.
Even though her act of opening the wound made it look worse, it may actually be better for it. I say that because removing the dried tissue off the top is exactly what Dr's do when treating serious wounds like burns. It's a painful process, but they do it to remove dead tissue on which pathogens might feed and proliferate provoking serious infection. Dead tissue, having no blood supply, has no means of killing pathogens. Although by opening the wound, she has made it look temporarily worse, she may well be doing exactly what is needed to help it heal properly. Interesting, isn't it, how animals seem to be such good doctors even in the absence of medical school not to mention all the trappings of technology?
While Heidi was eating, I was leaning over her to view her wound, just standing with my foot adjacent to hers, about a foot to one side of it, and leaning over her to get a better look. She never even stopped eating to look up at me to see what I was up to or why I was doing this. Perhaps she didn't care - just figured it was some kind of human thing - or, who knows, perhaps she understood exactly what I was doing. Whatever the reason, she seemed totally unconcerned by my proximity or my interest in scrutinizing her back.
It all seems somehow so normal now. It's easy to forget where we came from.
The spot on Heidi's back/neck just keeps looking worse and worse. I sure would feel a lot better if it would heal. It's on the back of her neck just above the shoulder and is between the size of a quarter and a silver dollar, closer to the former. She was absent 2 nights ago. Only the 2 yearlings who accompany her these days were at the door. I put food out in her spot, too, just in case she showed up late, but I never saw her.
Last night was the same at 1st, just the 2 yearlings at the door and no sign of Heidi. I waited a minute or so hoping to see her scurrying across the yard as she will sometimes do when she sees the light on but no luck. That she was missing for 2 consecutive nights when I was out there at the usual time both nights had me worried. I thought of that wound on her neck wondering if it might have gone septic.
Then when I got outside with the food, there she was. Whew. I was very happy to see her - even though the wound looked worse still. It's not easy to get a good look at it in the dark (with just the 60W patio light). I think I'll try to get a close up photo for better analysis. From what I could see last night, it looked like hamburger, and I could clearly see that she had been scratching at it. There was a large tuft of fur on the patio. I'm hoping a close inspection will show it to be better than it appears in darkness.
This year she has now 'dismissed' all but some 3 yearlings which I assume are hers. I figure she probably was prompted to get rid of all of the others because I missed a number of feedings during the time immediately after I got my new job, back when I could barely walk on my crippled knees each evening and when I went straight to bed after feeding the cats. I hated to miss feeding her back then, but I was truly in crisis mode at the time just trying to make it through. She probably saw that as indicative of a food shortage, a famine of sorts, and decreased the pack size accordingly.
The wound is looking better now, I think. It seems to be healing slowly but steadily with Dr Heidi debriding it every few days to insure it heals from the inside out.
Some of you may recall a year or so back when Widget ran out there on a night when Cruella and her henchmen were around. Whereas Heidi and her group had always more or less ignored him, some running from him, others like Dennis 'playing' with him but no one ever harming him, Cruella's bunch snatched him up and started using him for a chew toy, 2 of them holding him at one, one on either end, carrying him across the yard when I tried to retrieve him. After that I kept him shut away when feeding raccoons - for a while.
Recently, he has been better about staying inside and behaving himself. Once or twice he did get a wild hair and run out there on the patio, but with only Heidi's group around now, no one ever bothers him. I still don't like it, mind you, as I realize they could hurt him, but keeping him shut away in another room when I feed them is more complicated than it sounds.
For starters there is the fact that I never know for sure when they will be out there and thus when I will be feeding them. I would have to shut him away numerous times a night - that's more work/walking for me when I'm often in pain. Then there is the fact that he behaves badly when shut away, scratching at expensive multipanel doors and intricate molding which cannot easily be fixed and sometimes even urinating on the carpet, the white carpet! Don't even start with the crate either. Widget is a problem 'child' to say the least. He panics when put in the crate. The crate thing never goes well with him. I end up having to wash him, the crate, and the floor - remember my painful knees and back?
So for about a year now he's been 'out' while I feed them but required to stay back.
I apologize (to all). I started that this morning at work. I didn't realize it was going to be so long. I had to stop to get to work. I really wasn't trying to build intrigue. I have done that in the past, but only when I was going to be writing the next part right away. So, again, I apologize for any inconvenience.
Widget is fine. Let me go ahead and tell you that now. But he's fine ONLY due to the wonderful behavior Heidi has 'trained' into all of her group. And let me just tell you now that I apologized to Heidi for his bad behavior and thanked her profusely and repeatedly for not killing him.
It all started when the I saw the raccoons outside the patio door and remembered that I had several large biscuits I wanted to give them. They seem to really enjoy biscuits. The idea was to reach out through the gap in the door and give each of them a 1/2 biscuit. (There are only 4 of them now, Heidi and the 3 female yearlings.) That would keep them occupied while I went out to the car for another bag of cat food. They would have waited anyhow as they always do, but I figured that would make the waiting easier - like an appetizer while waiting for the meal to be served.
In the rush to get the biscuits, the youngsters grabbed them all. Heidi had her paws less than an inch from the last one when a youngster snatched it up. Hating that Heidi didn't get one and now out of biscuits, I went to the fridge to get her an egg, an even better treat. To deliver the egg through the door, I had to stoop down to lay it gently on the rug and give it a shove.
What I had forgotten through all of this is how much it upsets Widget, and naturally so, when the raccoons stick their heads/necks through the doorway and into the kitchen. From his perspective that looks to much like they are breaking into the house, and that sets him 'off'. Sometimes I forget to view things from his perspective. He has gotten very good about standing back and 'behaving' himself while I go out to feed them, and I should give him credit for that, but the one thing he still can't tolerate is when several of them appear to be coming in the house. That is his limit.
So the whole time that I had been handing out biscuits through the crack in the door, Widget had been silently getting super agitated at all of those raccoons shoving their faces up to the door - and so close to me. That upsets him, too. By the time I opened the door the 2nd time and reached down to give Heidi the egg, Widget was already 'spun up' to overdrive, but I wasn't paying attention.
Heidi came right up to my hand to get the egg - because, as you know, she does trust me so very much these days. At the very instant Heidi's nose reached the egg, Widget launched himself out the door, flying right through a gap between my legs and sailing right for Heidi. It just looked like a HUGE disaster in the making.
All I saw after that was Widget tail end as he took off across the dark yard in pursuit of the 4 raccoons. By the time I grabbed my shoes, there was no sight of any of them anywhere, and the yard was deathly silent. I wondered if they had killed him already or if he was just back there at the fence trying to find them. I called and called to no avail. The only thing that kept me from going completely bonkers was the silence. When Cruella and company had grabbed him that time, he had been anything but silent. He had wailed at the top of his lungs the entire time from the moment they grabbed him and started chewing on him until they finally 'spit him out' and ran when I walloped them with the bucket.
As I stood there calling out to Widget and afraid to go traipsing across the yard in the dark w/o a flashlight, a million things were running through my mind all at once. I worried about what might have happened to Widget. I also worried about Heidi. I was just so sure she would think that I had tricked her with the egg and then sicked the dog on her. Would she ever trust me again?
A moment later while I was still calling out in the darkness, a slightly unnerved Heidi stepped out of the camellias beside the patio and walked toward me gingerly. She seemed to be asking, "Is it ok? What's going on?" I was so totally amazed that she would come back up to me immediately following that incident, but she did. I spoke to her telling her that I was sorry about what had happened, and immediately she looked comforted. Her pace quickened as she walked the rest of the way up to me, except...
At that very moment, here came Widget on his way back to the house. Such timing. He walked right up behind Heidi, like inches from her backside. Once again I saw disaster staring me in the face, and there seemed nothing I could do but watch as it played out before me.
At some point, Heidi realized Widget was behind her, she turned, he jumped toward her, and, thankfully, instead of clobbering him, Heidi ran for the shrubs for cover - with foolish Widget on her heals. This time I was able to call him back. I scolded him right there on the patio and then put him away.
When I returned to the patio with the kibble, Heidi came right to me as though nothing had happened. Amazingly, she seemed to understand that I had nothing to do with the dog chasing her. Perhaps she even realized that I had scolded him and put him back inside. At any rate, she clearly wasn't holding any of it against me. That Heidi is one smart raccoon. That's for sure.
As she walked up to me, I held my hand out to her, closed and palm down. I don't know why. Just curious, I guess. She walked right up to my hand and sniffed it for a moment. When she had finished sniffing me, I poured her some food. All was back to normal. It had been a close call but she and her yearlings had all behaved admirably, and no one was hurt.
Heidi, being the brilliant raccoon she is, had avoided the whole mess the 1st go round by just hiding in the camellias while Widget chased the yearlings to the fence. I thought that was pretty wise of her. The youngsters, after all, have the energy for all that running. Heidi never left the patio the whole time, and Widget was so caught up in the chase that he had no idea she had simply stepped to one side disappearing behind the shrubs. Like I tell you, that Heidi is one smart 'lady'.
So, once again, what might well have been a disaster ended without even a drop of bloodshed thanks only to the wise and wonderful disposition of Heidi and her group. And I learned to be more careful about keeping track of Widget.
I was sure you would be back to tell the story when you could! I am so glad all ended on a good note and no blood was shed. Sounds like your lady took it all in stride and had a deep understanding of the situation. How long was it before Widget settled down after his excitement?
Actually, he seemed fairly calm when he came back from the forest edge. In fact, he even seemed a it smug as though thinking he had successfully chased all of the raccoons away. Then when he walked up to the patio and found Heidi, and she ran, too - even though she only went a few feet to hide in the shrubs - that just seemed to make his day. He was like the Sheriff of some Wild West town after running all of the bad guys out of town. You could almost see him hold his gun barrel up near his face and blow the last wisps of smoke away before putting it back in its holster and strutting into the house.
Heidi is such a treasure. She has always, always been that way, running to the fence or the shrubs, 'pretending' to be afraid of my tiny, toy dogs, thus allowing them to think they have won. That way she avoids the unnecessary exertion of a battle along with the risk of attracting unwanted human attention to herself. Then as soon as the dogs are gone, she comes back out to finish her meal. She is too smart to fight when she doesn't have to - with dogs, opossums, or raccoons. She epitomizes that 'live to fight another day' rule. Way back before Widget was even born, Heidi was loping across the lawn to avoid Sassy, my prior Maltese, and then coming back as soon as Sassy went inside.
Sassy will fight when it's really necessary like to defend her kits or her turf. She's just smart enough to know when to fight and when to walk away. It's one of the many things I love about her.
Yeah, she seemed to completely understand the situation. Her trust in me hasn't been shaken at all by the incident. When she 1st came walking out of the shrubs that night, walking haltingly and eying me inquisitively, she seemed to be asking if I was trying to chase her away, not that she seemed to think I was, just like she wanted to be sure before just walking back up to me. As soon as I spoke to her, she instantly relaxed, 'became' her old self again, and came right back to me.
Heck, just a few minutes ago I was out there feeding them, standing a few feet from Heidi as she was eating, when some kind of flying insect freaked me out. Suddenly there I was screaming, flailing my arms around, and doing some kind of fancy footwork right beside Heidi. When I caught myself and calmed down, I looked down at Heidi, and believe it or not, she was still eating calmly. (and probably thinking, 'crazy bipeds'.)
The 'one' time that Widget really gets all worked up such that he's even panting is in spring before Heidi's kits are born when there is a huge crowd out there, many of them 'strangers' to Widget, and they tend to be rowdy which doesn't help at all. He gets all worked up when I go out there with them. He hears some of them arguing with each other while I'm out there and things I'm in danger, and he can't get there to help. That really upsets him considerably such that I feel for the little guy.
He seems to recognize Heidi and her couple of yearlings though. He doesn't usually even get excited when they are at the door. What upset him that night was that they were sticking their heads in the door - my fault for handing them biscuits. I knew that upset him, but I wasn't thinking or paying attention.
Oh I can just see Heidi's thought balloon as you did the "bug dance." For crying out loud, she's like three million times bigger than that little bug; how bad can it be??? No wonder humans freak out at raccoons; at least we're bigger than mosquitos...
The Widget story is so perfectly Heidi, and so simply magnificent; long live the queen!
The other day I managed to do a small (very small) amount of yard work out back. (I've already called my 'old' gardener to come back. Now that i'm working again I can afford to pay him, and I don't have the time, energy, or even sometimes the ability to the work myself.) While doing some work up around the patio I began to notice something interesting.
As you know, lately the raccoons have been coming to the patio to eat instead of the buffet area. In prior years we left all of the toys at the buffet - for the kits to play with. Over time many of those toys had migrated around the back part of the back yard, the areas near the buffet and the forest, various raccoons having taken them there to play with them away from the group, but the toys were all at the back part of the yard, mostly in the last 15ft or so.
While working near the patio, I kept find a toy here, a toy there, toys stashed in every nook and cranny up close to the patio and in the spaces were they hide out between the back of the house and the shrubs while waiting for dinner. NONE of these toys were up there around the house even 3 or 4 months ago. All have shown up this spring or rather been moved from the buffet area to the patio area in the past few months.
I haven't seen any kits yet. I fairly certain there haven't been any kits hanging out around the patio as I would have seen them through the glass door by now. I would at least have seen one scurrying away when I turned on the light. It would appear that the adults, probably the yearlings, are playing with the toys during the hours they spend out there waiting. What I find most endearing is not so much that they are playing with the toys but that they actually went out of there way to collect the toys from the back of the yard and bring them to the patio so that they can play with them.
my girl was out very early today... around 6pm, but then a storm rolled thru [high winds and some pea-sized hail] maybe she knew she had to eat before it hit... i was just waking up from my rare nap,, when i heard a neighbor and her daughter -- i heard, oh look, it must be a female... i was thinking a deer, but wasnt sure... i walked out to see her peek out behind the neighbors trailer, looking for food where i usually leave some...
knowing i didnt put any out yet, i ran for a bucket of BOSS and some water... she came over to eat beside the shed, as i couldnt get back to where she was without spooking her off... then i ran in to get an egg. i was talking to her, walking slowly... i probably got about 4' from her before she backed off... i rolled the egg across the step, not far from where she was sitting... then i backed away so she could come back. she stayed and ate most the BOSS [the egg first] then the storm was picking up and she was gone.
I've been having a battle with her and my hummer feeders... i dont put much in them, knowing she drains them over night... so the other day I bought a 'bird center' with various hooks... i think i broke the code. two days now, they are left untouched... but i also have been leaving her a big bowl of water... though i know they love that sugar water... she just can't reach them anymore... the one, that hangs on the side of the shed... she was literally climbing the shed... i could see her nail marks. I switched to a different feeder, though it's in the same spot, and she doesn't drink from that location anymore.
I was taking them all in... but the hummers would be making a ruckus around 5am til i came out the rehang them. so i think i broke the code.
can't blame the raccoon for all of them, i red squirrel was draining one of them in the middle of the afternoon.
I'm guessing the kits must be here by now, but I haven't seen any of them yet. I'm still feeding them on the patio. I see/feed them about 3/4 of the time. Some nights I fall asleep early and miss them, and sometimes no matter how many times I check, they just don't seem to show up. I'm thinking those nights maybe Heidi take the kits out in the forest to teach them things.
I did buy a flashlight so I could go out there and a small lantern of sorts to add light when I'm sitting out there. It's super dark out there these days since the outside floodlight for that area went out. It's like some 30ft up, so I'm not sure where to find anyone to change it.
I only went out there to the buffet one time though. No one showed up while I was there, and I didn't feel like waiting for a long time. There is just too much going on with me right now. Sorry. Between pain problems, major job problems, and problems with myself (the pause), I've got my hands full right now.
I'm doing better the past few days, but I went through a period of awful back/hip pain for a week or so there. It was so unbelievable and off the charts, I had major problems finding a position to lie down. Most nights I slept on an ice pad. Pain meds didn't phase it. The Dr gave me muscle relaxers which did seem to help some, but they also made me sleepy - and then I couldn't lie down because it hurt worse. Thank goodness that is over now. Just woke up one day and it was gone, same as it started. Needless to say, during that time I wasn't in much of a mood to do anything. I had to make myself step out the door to feed them.
I just saw them a little while ago, btw. Gave them each an egg, since the eggs were getting a bit old. Yesterday I gave them chicken bones. They seem to really appreciate those - now that I've not been feeding them so many treats. The day before I gave them some overripe cherries which also went over big. Oh, and before that we had watermelon. I don't have to tell you how much they love the watermelon.
These days I can walk right up to Heidi to feed her and put the melon and eggs down for her. I use a smaller dog/cat food bag to take theirs out to them. Sometimes when I'm holding the bag and trying to tip it enough to pour some out for Heidi - and taking too long apparently - she will help me. She doesn't grab or snatch at the bag. She just gently puts her hands in the end of the bag to pull the food out and get it started - to help me out. It's very cute. I need a picture of us working on that joint project. :-)
For the moment, I'm just happy to be pain free again. That's about it. Oh, the patio roster right now is Heidi and 3 yearlings, all well behaved, probably Heidi's.
Terese, sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I was happy to read about your wonderful experiences with your 'girl'. It reminded me in some ways of the early days with Heidi and me. Sounds like you and she are getting along well.
For those who are also fans of Snowball & Puddle (opossums), I keep forgetting to mention that I do see those guys (and gals) around now and then. Some nights I even find them out there on the patio eating right along with the raccoons.
I've been doing something I used to do a while back. I still give Heidi a dish of food, but I scatter or sprinkle food for the others across a wide area (instead of in 'n' separate spots). Since the other raccoons are yearlings and apparently mostly from one litter, they can eat fairly close to each other w/o arguing - too much. Scattering the food across an area allows several to eat, and I don't have to know how many places to set. It also slows them down a bit so they can make a meal from less food, and being younger they don't mind having to walk around picking up kibble. Since I started doing this, I've seen the opossums join in the group, 3 yearlings and an opossum all eating together w/o arguing.
Recently, I put a container of water at the front door for the cats. I've been challenged as to where to put water for them outside. In the backyard, the raccoons will play in it making it dirty and turning it over on day 1. In the front yard, the sun bares down on everything (S exposure & no shade), and I know they don't want hot water. Plus I have to be sure to hide it from the HOA, and I would prefer not to have it sitting by the front door anyhow. I also have to take my back and knees into consideration. When I'm having a lot of pain, it's hard for me to bend down to change the water frequently. Still, they need water.
Last summer, they stayed across the street at Gladys' house where they had shade and could drink from the birdbath. I didn't like having them crossing the street so much, but couldn't stop them. The water seemed a big part of the problem - and shade.
This year in late spring it stopped raining entirely, and the world became dry and crispy. I had to find a way to put water outside for the cats. I didn't feel comfortable trusting that the birdbath across the street would always have water, and it was bone dry everywhere around here. I put a dish under the bench by the front door. The bench hides it from view and shades it from the sun. That has worked out quite well.
Almost immediately I started seeing the cats drinking from it, so I knew they were using it. I picked a container large enough to last them about 5 days. I wanted it to last several days - to save my back, but not so long that it would get yucky. 5 days works out pretty well for me and for them. I've been surprised to see how fast the water goes.
Then tonight I went out to walk Widget and found an opossum under the bench drinking. He was cute, and I was glad to provide water for him. (I've learned to find them cute now.) I remember a few years back when we discussed the importance of water for wildlife, especially during droughts.
I knew you'd eventually find possums cute, Cheryl; they grow on you. And they really are cute in that "so homely they're cute" kind of way. And their gentle, unassuming way adds to the cuteness factor.
I was sitting at my table typing a report, and i hear that distinctive 'trilling' -- the sound was moving at a pretty good clip... i looked out back where i had some BOSS, and saw my 'girl' with a youngin'
so she's got one kid. it doesnt look too small, certainly not as small as some of the images Cheryl has posted over the yrs.
cute lil bugger. I ran to get a dish with kibble and an egg, and slowly walked out by the back where they were... the lil one ran for cover, but mama just watched me. she was eating some spilled food that the squirrels had slipped earlier... i was probably 6-8 feet from her and set the dish on a step.
I had a flashlight so i could watch for a bit... then i turned off the outside light and left.
I'll have to tell the neighbor... she has named her Rocky ... she [Sharon] had asked me if i'd seen Rocky lately... now i can tell her she's got a kid in tow. How fun.
I just brought in the squirrel feeder, so they two of them don't think i'm the only buffet in town...
Oh, the woods next to our park is being cleared... so we have a lot more coons in the Park and many are asking the Mgr to remove them. [which i dont think he has done]
My girl has to become a nuisance, and glad she's still around.
Your story brings back memories of that 1st time when I walked out to find Heidi at the bottom of the bird feeder, her kits all hanging off of it like a jungle gym. Aren't those little ones adorable? The smaller they are, the cuter - well, to a point. That one year when Dennis brought hers to the buffet before the were 'done', they weren't too cute. They were too young and too skinny, half bald with little patches of hair here and there, so there is a limit to the 'younger the cuter' concept.
I'm glad you had this wonderful opportunity to see her kit fairly close. It's a priceless opportunity. Sounds like she is getting very comfortable around you now. 6-8ft is very close.
Sounds like you have more of a Rhonda than a Rocky. I can relate.
Very sorry to hear that the raccoons there may be in danger. Seems we humans are determined to clear every inch of land. One of the very few up sides of this bad economy and the upside down housing market is that we have at least for the moment stopped building new housing in my area. Before the market crashed new houses were going up at a frightful pace around here, and there were plans already posted for a massive development behind/beside us. After the crash, the developer took off, and the project ground to an immediate halt. I was happy about that.
Happy for you, Terese. Glad you were able to spend a little time with Mom and Baby.
One day last week, I went to the back door to let Widget out as I always do. I was late afternoon but still a good 3hrs or more before dark. Still bright and sunny out. I was opened the door, did a dbl take, and then quickly 'slammed' it shut again before Widget could go through. The sight beyond the door had snapped me out of my afternoon doldrums, for there walking up to the door in plain view was a raccoon, a yearling. Seeing me, she had come hurrying to the door looking for dinner. Dog and raccoon were heading towards each other as I pushed the door shut between them and whisked Widget off to the front yard before returning to feed the bold 'raccoon-ess'.
Yesterday, I cut a nice, big watermelon. I cut the 'end cap' off the melon. It looked perfect, a gorgeous, deep, rose color, but when I took a bite I found that the texture was all wrong. It was fluffy, foamy, not dense and crisp as it should have been. Such a waste, but the raccoons would love it. Instead of waiting until later in the night to take it out when they were on the patio, I decided to just go ahead and set it out there right away, a late afternoon treat for the early birds. It was a couple hours before dark at the time.
A little while later, still well before dark, still bright and sunny outside, I looked out there to check on the melon. It was GONE! Already. I looked a little closer and saw that the melon had 'moved' maybe 10ft or so. It was under a shrub where it had been reduced already to a shallow bowl of liquid. A young raccoon was standing over/in the melon still searching for any edible remnants within the now very dirty juice, the color of which recalled the many times I had watched as young raccoons played in the melon liquid, washing, drinking, eating, and sometimes just enjoying the tactile feel of the melon flesh beneath the dirty, red fluid. That's how it gets dirty in the 1st place.
I still have a good 3/4 of what was a very large, seedless melon, not the 'old-fashioned', long types (I love those, but they are never seedless and are hard to find in stores these days, here at least) not those small, round, 'ice box' melons. This was the typical, seedless melon, except a very fat one. The seedless types tend to be round, but much larger, longer and rounder, than the small, round types that only yield a few servings. This one was probably on the order of 10" X 12", maybe more, so there is plenty more in the fridge for the fur friends.
I'm going to stop off at a local farmer's market to pick up one of those long melons on the way home. I sure hope it's a good one. I've had 2 or 3 melons so far this year, and all have been lousy - not that the raccoons are complaining since they get more that way.
The melons here have been superb here in KY..we get Missouri melons from the river delta farms and I go through at least 2 a week. (the dog loves it too)
I've got to share a relevant story...I wasn't sure whether to put it here, or on the cat's thread...but here we go...
My sister in law is trying to tame down a semi feral kitty. It is a fuzzy, grayish brown tabby with black points...(you all can see where this is headed)...They live in town (well, what passes for a town) and she's been feeding it right outside the back door. They've gotten to the point in their 'relationship' where the kitty is letting her pet it just a bit, and she stepped out the door the other evening, gave it a quick pet and headed down the steps...and froze.
Something didn't 'feel' right about the kitty's fur...she slowly turned around to see an equally surprised raccoon sitting up on its haunches by the food bowl. The raccoon gave her the once over and calmly proceeded to continue eating. You have to know my sister in law...she's not been exposed to wildlife, farms, or any type of outdoor activities...she's still in shock.
Oh Mel, I laughed at that. It had to be scary for her after realizing it was a coon...but so cool at the same time!
DH keeps telling me "do not go outside without your contacts, I do not want "stray kittens" which are coons or skunks brought in the house!!! I had a stray kitten the other day...could swear I heard meooooow so very tiny...no, it was a baby bunny!
I have not seen the girl and her kit again. .. but then - i'm at home now, so i'm not seeing anything but dry grass and dead plants.
I am really careful now when i go out.. i dont want to spook her in case she gets in protective mode with the kit in tow...
It's funny -- that one night they were on the back patio.. i was hearing noises [as i was trying to work] so i got the flashlight and lit up the area she was snacking on the slipped BOSS ... i could see the rocking chairs rocking back and forth -- and there was the little ring tail, playing around the chairs. Guess they like to play more than eat. I have small containers about the yard for my seedlings.. the little bugger was playing with that too. i could hear the sound of plastic being clanked around.
One foggy night, I cornered an armadillo in the yard when I was actually trying to get my new dachshund to come into the house. I am ever so glad that I hesitated before picking "him" up. He was asleep in the office chair beside DH when I came into the house shaking at the thought of all of those claws and sharp teeth..
Armidillos don't have teeth...just a long sticky tongue I think. AND...the claws are big...but can't do much on the short stubby legs. I think you would be safe. It would most likely just roll up into a ball on you! Lol
That is hilarious! That story is an absolute treasure. I'll bet you could sell that one, like for one of those 'Amusing Anecdotes' in Reader's Digest. (Is that magazine even still around?) It's a bit short for a short story, and I think any attempt to elongate it would detract from the story, but it's perfect for an anecdote type spot in a magazine.
Yep, definitely time for glasses (for her). Actually though, I really can see how that could happen if one weren't paying close attention, because the night Kitty (also a brown tabby) showed up for the 1st time at the front door, my 1st thought was that she was a young raccoon, a yearling. It was only a minute later that I did a double take and realized she was actually a cat which just happened to be almost the exact same color as a raccoon.
I loved ALL of your stories of that moment when you almost brought wildlife in - or actually did so. Such adorable stories (and slightly scary, June).
There is an ad showing on TV in my area. As is often the case with the really cute ones, it only seems to run very rarely. I've probably seen it 3 times max. I've been wanting to tell you about it, and there will surely never be a better time. The add is for an optical shop, might be Sears Optical, can't recall. Has anyone else seen it? It goes like this:
A woman in her nightie is seen entering a room through a sliding glass door. It's dark out. The woman closes the door behind her and heads across the room saying something like, "Come on, Kitty. Come back to bed with Mommy." The camera pans to the woman's feet where trailing along a few steps behind her is what is very clearly an adult raccoon.
Everytime we see an American Toad my boyfriend or I say "there's your/my boyfriend."
A bunch of years ago I lived in a condo with a very small yard. I many flower/plant in containers. One summer I had heard this "screaming" noise I was not familiar with, and it turned out to be a toad near my front door.
Towards the end of the season I started hearing some odd call at the back of the house which I thought must be a bird I was unfamiliar with. I kept running to the doors at the back to look out at the feeding stations, but nothing.
Finally, I crept up slowly to the doors/windows thinking maybe I would see it if I didn't scare it off. There, on the window sill on the inside sitting on the ledge next to the door, was my toad, screaming to get out. I guess he'd come inside in one of the containers I brought in. How he got up on the window ledge I don't know, but I think he was waiting for his chance to leap through the door.
Haven't mistaken any critters for any other critters, but I do tend to me much more careful at night when letting the dogs out after having racoons and possum in that yard. We live in a different house and neighborhood now, and we have a different kind of critter population out there. Still go out every night with a flashlight, and I'm supposed to be "downtown!" Hargh.
Stay cool everyone. I have had a possum rescue for a few weeks in a large cage on the backporch. Yesterday she was so hot I was putting ice packs in there with her. Today I moved her into the basement. A few day ago we lost a squirrel who got trapped in this heat in a have-a-hart trap. We have a super-abundance of rats this year for some reason (I do feed the birds a lot and have had to stop/cut back) so I thought I was doing "the right thing" by trapping. I only caught 2, but we also bagged a possum and 2 squirrels. The second squirrel was caught in the shade, but it could have been trapped for up to 2 hours. It wore itself out, found it early afternoon with heat stroke, and it died with a squirrel rehabber late that night. :/
Hate to be a debbie downer, but there's a tidbit for people who deal with wildlife in this heat - don't use live traps - the heat together with the stress of capture can cause dire consequences.
I don't know what I was thinking. I thought I heard a cat calling. Kitty was inside already, so I went to the back door to check for Cocoa. There were raccoons out there. Again, I don't know what I was thinking. I really wasn't thinking at all really. It just came natural. I've come to think of Heidi as practically another pet now.
When I opened the door, I said, "Heidi, Heidi". I saw her stick her head out from behind the camellia where she was hiding, right beside the patio. "Heidi, come here," I said, as though I were speaking to a dog for whom such a command might make sense. Still holding the door wide open, hot, steaming air flowing in at a rapid pace, I called again. My tone was insistent but still very sweet, kind, and gentle, "Heidi, come." It was more a strongly held belief than a command. It was almost as though I willed her there by the sheer determination of my belief that she would come.
I had been half asleep when awakened by the sound of the cat meowing and was still a bit 'out of it' as I stood there in the doorway to Heidi. Had I been thinking logically, I would have known that Heidi always stands back away from the door when I open it, something she does in case Widget should happen to come tearing out again as he has done a time or two recently. I would have known that Heidi is not a pet. She's a wild animal.
Yes, she has become amazingly comfortable around me, but she is still not tame. I would have known there wasn't even a reason to call her to me. For what? I didn't even have food at the moment, and I surely didn't want her to come inside. It was as though I were still under the spell of sleep, at least to some extent. I really wasn't thinking at all nor even behaving rationally.
Heidi stepped out from behind the camellia shrub and stood there looking at me as though a bit confused by my behavior. Why was I standing there inside the open doorway calling her? What did I want? This was an odd behavior and something I had never done before, but I did sound so convincing, like everything was normal and like I really wanted her to come, and I had never harmed her before and...
As Heidi stepped out into the light and walked toward me, stepping across the patio and up to the open door, I snapped 'to', awakening fully from the semi-dream state I had been in. Suddenly I was fully aware of what I was doing, that it was out of the ordinary even to expect Heidi to come to me that way, me standing inside the house, the door open, no food to offer her. I was even more surprised to see her acquiesce, having the trust to walk out from her place of shelter and come to me even when I was not offering her anything. Wow. How incredible. I wished I could pet her now as she stood at my feet just beyond the doorway.
Of course, I did run back inside and reemerge with cat food for all, eggs for Heidi, and cookies for the others. Tonight I'm out of watermelon, but they have gorged on the stuff for days now. Divided over the course of two nights I gave them the very large, seedless melon I had purchased last week, the entire melon, 1/2 each night. It had been sweet but the texture was fluffy/foamy not crisp, just not right. By the 3rd night I had cut a large, seeded melon I'd picked up from the farmer's market. It was much better. The heart and surrounding area was near perfect, crisp and very sweet. The outer 3 inches or so were less perfect both in taste and texture. Over the next 3 nights I served them the outer portion of the 2nd melon.
They ate the last of the melons last night. Heidi always gets it 1st, the others getting what she leaves behind. It works best that way for many reason, including the fact that Heidi likes the juice at least as much as the fruit, maybe more, so she needs to get a turn at the melon before the younger ones eat in it, walk in it, bath in it, etc. Heidi is the only one who can eat her fill and leave a clean melon behind. Somehow the others always manage to have the juice black with dirt in a very short time.
Last night I left her out there with her usual pile of kibble plus a 12in wide melon 'bowl' full to the top with the combination of fruit and juice. Roughly an hour later I turned on the light and looked out, just curious to see if they had managed to eat all that melon in the one meal. I knew it would be gone by morning, regardless. I was surprised to see Heidi out there, alone, calmly eating watermelon. At the time, she was actually dipping her paws in between melon chunks and then drinking the liquid from them. She was holding her two hands together and drinking from them just as a human would do when caught w/o a glass, just as I myself have done a time or two to drink from an outside faucet in a pinch. She looked up, saw that it was me, and continued drinking/eating.
What rather amazed me about the whole scene was that she had been out there eating for an hour already and was still going. Heidi is a slow eater anyhow. At least, that is how she prefers to eat if nothing is pressing her to rush. On this night, with one of her favorite foods on hand, she was taking the time to thoroughly enjoy the feast. The others, there had been 3 yearlings out there with her earlier, had finished there food and were now either gone or waiting at a distance for her to finish. Either way, I figured they would return soon for there share of the melon.
Heidi always prefers to eat her kibble 1st, saving whatever else she is offered for desert. It's as if she understands the importance of making sure she eats the nutrition and calorie dense kibble 1st rather than risk being to full to eat it after 'desert'. Watermelon is one of the very few things she will make a small allowance for, eating a piece or two at the start of her meal and then returning to finish after her meal.
It was nice to see her enjoying one of her favorite foods. I turned the light off (last night), and headed back to bed.
A belated but enthusiastic "Welcome!" I don't know how I missed your post earlier, but I apologize. That a cute story about your friendly Toad. Thanks for the warning for anyone who might be setting out traps. It's probably best to avoid even setting traps in this extreme heat if it can be avoided, esp during daylight hours and certainly if one will be unable to monitor them closely.
Incidentally, there are also a couple of opossums that show up out there from time to time to eat with the raccoons. I call them Snowball and Puddle because one is almost white, the other a more 'normal' dk gray with whitish trim and face. Unlike Puddle, Snowball is small and a bit misshapen, what we would have termed a runt in years past. As spartacusaby recently pointed out, it took me a while to warm up to the opossums, but I now find them quite cute, this despite my earlier assessment of them as having "a face only a mother could love".
I think I may have forgotten at the time to mention it, but I had actually forgotten about those days, when I found the opossums less than attractive (a bit repulsive actually). In those days I really never thought I would be calling them 'cute' and actually meaning it.
LOL, Cheryl, but then "back in the day" you also never thought you'd have a backyard raccoon buffet and miss them when they disappear for the winter... How times have changed, no? And in any case, the cuteness of possums is definitely an acquired taste which many folks never acquire.
I still laugh at the thought that brings a picture to mind of you chasing away those evil raccoons with a broom. I'd say that they have 'domesticated' you very well to their way of life!
It is so nice to reaad your words about those 'cute' possums. It just takes time, or rescuing a baby to soften a heart for them.
I had forgotten about that time years ago when I went out on the patio shaking the broom in the air to try to scare Heidi away. That was one of our earliest encounters. I looked out my great room window about 10AM on Sat morning and wondered about the 'dog' sniffing around under my birdfeeder. Then it occurred to me that I didn't have a smallish, brown dog, and the area was enclosed by a 6ft privacy fence more than adequate to keep any neighborhood dog out. I did a double take and realized, OMG, that's not a dog. It's a raccoon, in the backyard, in broad daylight.
Well, that would not do. I was raised, trained really, by people who had my best interest at heart when they taught me to always stay away from raccoons. Always. They are mean and aggressive and carry rabies. They'll rip you apart. They have to go. I had a responsibility to protect myself and my little dog from those vicious creatures. I had to get out there and set that raccoon straight immediately. I had to let her know that my yard was off limits.
I ran out onto the patio in my bare feet, holding the broom high in the air and shaking it - but she didn't run. She just looked up at me for a moment, sized me up as harmless, and went back to eating the fallen seeds. Well, I wasn't going to take that. I ran to the rarthest corner of the patio, screaming, and shaking the broom, but still she ignored me. She had completely and successfully called my bluff, and I was bluffing, because I was not at all prepared to harm her. I wasn't even prepared to go beyond the bounds of the patio, not bare-footed as I was.
She contined eating calmly as I ran back for better weapons. I was not about to be ignored this way. I was a human, darned it. She was supposed to be afraid of me. That's the rule. Wild animals are supposed to run from humans. She couldn't ignore me that way. I ran back inside the kitchen and looked around for something to through at her. I grabbed a can of Campbell's soup, 2 of them. It was the only thing I saw at the moment.
Outside, I threw the 1st can. Not wanting to risk actually hitting her, I intentionally threw it well to one side of her. It landed a good 3ft or more beside her. She didn't run in fear as I had expected. She calmly walked over, picked up the can, and turned it around in her hands looking it over - as though it were a gift rather than a weapon. The 2nd can worked about the same.
I went inside and called the DNR to discuss the situation. I was afraid of her. What if I ran across her while I was outside working in the yard? Would she hurt me? Hurt my dog? I was afraid. Thankfully, the biologist I spoke with at the DNR was not one of those anti-raccoon types. He listened to my account and then told me she sounded perfectly healthy, no risk of rabies, and that she was likely just comfortable in my yard. That it was part of her area. He asked if I wanted him to send animal control to trap her. I did. I really, really did. Then I would be safe. My dog would be safe. My yard would be safe again. But what about her? What would they do with her. I didn't think she should be executed for the crime of coming into my yard on a Saturday morning. Would they kill her or relocate her? At the time I still believed in the myth of animals being relocated to those happy homes in the forest somewhere. I've learned a lot since then, most of it from folks here at DG, and some from Heidi and the others, so now I know better. Anyhow, he said they would probably kill her, since raccoons are not endangered. (I beg to differ, though not in the usual meaning of the word, not that the species is in danger of extinction but that the individuals are very much in danger.) Hearing that, my heart sank. I could not order her execution, no matter how much I wanted my safety back. I said, "no thanks, maybe she won't come back again." She did, as you know...
The real fun though was the day I broke the rake thrashing it into the ground trying to scare her away (again) - and then I threw the 2 sections of the rake and remaining pole at her, well actually way off to one side again to avoid hitting her as she clung to the fence again ignoring me, again able to size me up in an instant as harmless and unwilling to actually hurt her. Or maybe she didn't so much size me up as harmless. Maybe she saw me as having such poor aim as to be incapable of actually hitting her (since I kept throwing things 10ft to one side to be sure I missed). Yep, those were the days.
Me, too. It's been a long, long trek since those days. Now I think of Heidi as a pet, and, as Ruth pointed out, I miss her in winter when she not around as much - although the last year or so she seems to be staying around through winter, right there on the patio.
Yep. Definitely glad we worked things out, and glad folks here at DG helped me with that.
Good point - both of them. Honestly, were it not for your patient guidance, I might well not have that buffet today. You were a voice in the darkness that bid me go forward and reach out to them, an intelligent and knowing voice, a voice I trusted even when your words ran counter to all that I 'knew' about raccoons and wildlife, things learned so long ago they seemed part of the bedrock of my being. Turns out, we really can change even the most firmly held beliefs.
Thanks very much for the kind words, Cheryl. But you know, I pitched the "live and let live" gospel of wildlife to countless people over the years; usually it went in one ear and out the other, meeting no receptive material in between, and I often wondered why I bothered. Most people knew better, knew that I was frankly full of it; the fact that I was a professional, licensed as a wildlife rehabber, had taken innumerable classes yadda yadda was purely irrelevant. Their taxes paid my salary, it was my job to control the wildlife, and I should proceed to do so quietly, thanks a lot. A few, very few people were willing to try the things I suggested that would peacefully keep wildlife from causing the damage prompting their complaint IF those changes were essentially free and required little or no work on their part; but this was so rare I was tempted to nominate them for sainthood.
So honestly, when I read your first posts about the rabid raccoon who was ruining your bird feeders and likely to attack your little lapdog?... Well, first I laughed, then I rolled my eyes, thinking "here we go again. You're retired, Ruth, and they never listen anyway; why bother?" I can't tell you why I responded; I'd read lots of other (usually worse) raccoon hysteria on DG and knew better than to waste my time responding. I think it was just so clear, even in those first genuinely frightened posts, that you didn't want to hurt Heidi that made me feel it just might be worthwhile to give it the old college try one more time. But OMG, who knew that was the first step toward unleashing upon Charleston the ultimate raccoon benefactor? You became that convert all of us "wildlife nuts" dreamed about but never expected to meet: someone with boundless empathy and an uncanny ability to intuit the thoughts of the animals around her. You have created a unique and very special environment where the raccoons feel safe and comfortable; as a result, you've observed things about their interactions and society that are unknown to those who study them. That's quite a feat for anyone, but the fact that you're a computer person by training rather than a naturalist makes it truly amazing. Your knowledge level surpassed mine long ago, and that's great; I always enjoyed learning about wildlife and always will. I'm just happy if I was able to play a part in starting you on this path; I've been loving the journey, too, and wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Cheryl I actually saw a "shove"this evening. I would not have known what it truly was if i hadn't been following the Heidi story. It was not a very graceful move but it accomplished the objective. The kits are coming now. There were 4 "adults"and 4 kits there this evening in the short time I stayed to watch. One from one mama and 3 from another. Have your babies shown up yet?
Cheryl -- due to me reading your stories for the past 4-5 yrs... i now come to enjoy having them come by for a visit, no matter or long or short... i was out tonight trimming my fuschias and she my girl when i was dumping trimmings in the fire pit... she is not afraid of my presents nor am I of her. Her kit - which may be a yr-ling, was not with her.
I ran back in to get her kibble, as she was eating BOSS... and then scared her off as the bag of kibble hit the wheel barrow with a clank. I'll check in the AM to see if the snacks are gone. She has not been touching the BOSS in the squirrel feeder for weeks now. i only see her about once a week now.
So -- I do have to thank you for your years of stories about these wonderful, misunderstood creatures.
Cheryl and Ruth - I somehow found this thread and I am enjoying the tales of the buffet. It is so wonderful to find like minded people out there. I know you exist. you are just few and far between.
We have always fed the critters. Every one. A few years back I had an opossum buffet several months one winter when a single possum came every night. I put one or two plates of food out every night. His favorite food was apple. I watched as he would pick up each slice and nibble it to nothing.
I do not have permits for wildlife rehab, but I volunteer with the piedmont wildlife rehab group. We have had a crow this season and the possum. It's a lot of work to commit to, especially when we already have a full house of critters who have their own demands.
The possum baby was such a lovely treat. A neighbor does "pest removal" and captured the baby inside someone's home. Pete, as well call all possums, was released on Saturday in the early evening near the headwaters of the Haw River in North Carolina. The woman who gave him to me asked me when I told her where I was going to release him, "Why so far?" Roads and kitty cats are the #1 causes of death in the opossum. Where Pete is now is far far from both.
Amen, Amanda, and great to have you with us! Pete is adorable (if that's him in the photo) as are all baby possums...well, at least to me. And crows are so smart it's almost scary: another acquired taste for many, but I thoroughly enjoy them. Yes, it is a huge commitment helping with wildlife rehab (esp. at the stage when the babies need feeding round the clock!); but it is so rewarding when they become big enough and healthy enough to release. It's hard to see them go, and yet happy all at the same time: an experience you never forget.
Hope the link works. There was a feature story on NBC, it was also featured on CNN. It is fascinating. Don't mean to hijack the Heidi thread, but in terms of backyard visitors, I decided last year to favor the crows over the hawks who came to prey on my birdfeeders mid-winter.
Hope to hear from Heidi and Bear soon. :)
p.s. Edited to say YES that IS Pete the day he was released. :)
Fascinating link, Amanda: thanks! Though as I recall, every time the military have put into play a plan employing wildlife, it has backfired wildly (and quite humorously to the outside observer). That said, crows (or any corvid) are definitely smart enough to recognize individual humans, and I can easily believe they'd long remember one who had harassed them. Their population was taking a real beating from West Nile at the end of my career in the animal field, and it was breaking my heart; I always had to admire a species that can routinely best the "dominant species" purely by outsmarting them.
When I lived in the condo and was feeding the opossum they were originally attracted by my birdfeeders. We'd get a random raccoon too, but they didn't stay and like many of you have mentioned, I was reluctant to get too friendly.
We moved to this big rental house 3 seasons ago in February. One night I DID see a raccoon out there in the mulberry tree where I have a platform feeder right across from the back porch. Of course I ran to wake up BF and we looked and looked in the dark to make sure - but I had gotten a good look before it disappeared up into the tree.
The next morning I was very surprised to find that the coon had left a giant pile of turds right there on my platform feeder. I thought that was very rude! I haven't seen a coon in this yard since, though we have had a wayward opossum now and then.
We are in a very highly urban area though this neighborhood is lovely old well kept houses and yards that have pecan trees, fruit trees of all kinds, giant oaks, etc. We are hemmed in by major roadways within a mile in any direction on three sides although we are about 2 miles from the city's arboretum. There is a waterway/stream on the opposite side of one of these major roads with at least 3 or 4 lanes in each direction, but the speed limit is 45 mph and the cars drive much faster.
Not the greatest wildlife sanctuary, though we do have an amazing diversity of songbirds and I garden for wildlife which means birds and insects and whatever else can come thru. Needless to say, not the place to release an opossum.
Yes, that was highly rude! Also pretty unusual, since raccoons rarely "go" where they eat. Of course if it was his/her first visit to the feeder, something might have happened to scare the ... out of him/her.
Anything's possible, though I usually think of the domestic cat when it comes to editorial remarks of an excretory nature. Infinite numbers of cat owners can testify to this after suddenly changing brands of litter or food on a cat who is particularly, er, resistant to change.
I'm pretty sure it was the raccoon who did the dirty deed. For reasons unknown to me, it's not uncommon for them to use high places as their toilet. I used to get big piles of raccoon turds on my roof and my neighnbor had big piles on top of the shed. I've also heard about them using tree stumps for their bathroom area. Apparently, groups will often make a place a communal toilet for all of them.
Interesting. While I had the opossum rescue I learned that they defecate in their water bowl. What tidy little creatures! Of course, that means you have to keep the water bowl clean, but in the wild I also learned that a place near water was the best place to release.
p.s. Edgar the crow rescue from this spring came back to my yard this week. I am so happy to know it is him. :)
Gotta run. Wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I, as Heidi's spokesman, am fine. I will get back to you soon. Promise. Just going through 'stuff' lately - life. No time to post. I'm so glad to see that you are keeping the conversation going in my absence, and I look forward to returning soon to join in the discussions.
Please think happy thoughts for me 'n Elvis 'n Pookie around 3:30 today. We will be laying Elvis to rest in the back yard. He was such a good friend to us &,we will sure miss him. He went across the rainbow bridge yesterday morning.
Love & Poodle kisses,
Sheri & Pookie
Cheryl, please forgive my hijacking of your thread.
No problem. Having gone through it myself not so long ago, I realize how awfully difficult it can be to get beyond the loss of a dog that has been ones friend and constant companion for so many years. My heart goes out to you, and I wish I knew something to say to even begin to make it better.. Although nothing but time will heal that wound, I'm glad you have Pookie there to help you through this. And your DG friends.
If you like, you can post a link here to direct people back to your thread - to pay homage and last respects to Pookie. It might be nice to keep all of the conversation together and in one place. During those 1st very difficult days after my Sassy died, I often went back and re-read posts from people who wrote in to comfort me. It was a way to fill the time and to feel somehow closer to her.
Take care. I'll try to drop by to see you (on your thread, of course, not in the flesh) later this evening.
When I posted today, I was at work, in work mode, pragmatic, and in a hurry to get off the net and back to my task. I hope I didn't mis-communicate. Of course, you are all welcome to discuss Elvis here. I just wanted to invite you to post a link here, so everyone would be able to find the Elvis thread.
When I lost my Sassy, I was devastated. I started a thread on DG to share memories & photos of her. That was a wonderful catharsis for me, and the many DGers who visited my thread were instrumental in helping me to deal with what I was going through. I spent 2 days home in bed mourning her passing. From time to time I would get up and go upstairs to my office to read the posts people had left and share more of my favorite stories from my life with Sassy. That was many years ago and before I started the Heidi thread or met any of you, btw, I didn't know anyone at DG at the time, but still I found the process of sharing Sassy's photos and life with folks here at DG more therapeutic than any professional session at any price. To this day, I am still comforted to know that I have that little 'Sassy book' somewhere here at DG, complete with pics, stories, and lots of wonderful and supportive responses from everyone. Because that was so important to me, I thought you might also like to have folks come over to your Elvis thread to read about your memories with Elvis, to join you in celebrating his life and mourning his passing.
Well, here it is bed time again. I'm still having trouble trying to get things done now that I'm working again, still working on that challenge. I'll have to come back again another time, tomorrow evening if time allows, to get started discussing all of the posts folks have made since I was last here.
As for Heidi, she and those same 3 yearlings are still out there every night - or on the nights I make it out there at a reasonable time. Still no sign of kits, but I know they must be hiding the little ones out there somewhere. I haven't been going out to the buffet, btw, just still feeding them on the patio. My guess is they don't feel comfortable bringing the babies to the door, esp since Widget ran out there a few times in the past - and I'm sure they remember that. I'm being very careful to keep Widget closed away in the bedroom when I go out there (now that I know there could be kits around), but they have no way of knowing that.
Maybe I'll get around to going back there to the buffet before summer ends. Right now I desperately need to get out there and mow the grass - but it's just SO unbearably HOT out there this time of year, hard to find a time when I can stay out there that long.
Off to dreamland now. Keeping you & Pookie in my thoughts and prayers, Sheri.
Thank you very much Cheryl.
Pookie (today responded quicker to "Presley" than he ever did b4 to Pookie)...hmmmI
I do so appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I .like the idea of pictures and stories on Elvis' thread. thanks for sharing the link here.
I got him at 4 months sometime in August, so we had exactly 15 years together. God surely blessed me last November when I brought Pookie home from Carolina Poodle Rescue. I am quite sure that he and Elvis are related as they looked exactly alike in profile or front on...+ came from the same area and Elvis' breeders passed away just 4 years go, so Pookie indeed could have found in close proximity to Elvis' birthplace.
Hugs to all & I appreciate the love that I feel emanating from my DG friends.
Saw the 1st baby last night, only one and only for a minute. Not sure whose it is. I had a feeling they were probably out there near the patio but hiding. Heidi used to sit right up against the back door to wait for me, but lately things have changed. Now one of the yearlings waits near the door to get my attention - they are very smart, so they realize that one of them needs to be visible when I look out to check on them. When I see that one younger female and no sign of Heidi, I figure she has already left for the night. Then by the time I get out there, there she is. It's the same thing every night lately.
Now that I've seen the little one, I'm guessing Heidi and the others are waiting a short distance away, in a sheltered spot with the babies. That one yearling is tasked with flagging me down at the door. When she sees me, she lets them know, and usually disappears, probably going back over to the group briefly. By the time I gather my things and fill the bag, the adults are all in place on the patio waiting to be fed. The little ones apparently stay in the hiding spot over in the shrubs.
Last night when the group came to the patio to eat, that one kit followed them. There is always the one adventurous soul who just can't stay back for long. When I opened the door to go out, the kit fled back to the hiding place. But now that the kits are starting to venture out of hiding and are curious about the patio, it's likely just a matter of time before they make there way to the patio.
As you probably know, seeing those kits always motivates me, even when I swear I'm not going out there. So now I'm thinking maybe I'll mow the lawn and try to get back there this weekend - although the change to a newly mowed lawn along with the change of me going out there again will likely make them more timid initially. I'll take some cookies, marshmallows (bought a bag last time I was at the store), and toys along to tempt them out of hiding.
Also, I've been touching Heidi with the empty food bag lately - to see how she reacts. It's a small bag, maybe 10" long. When it's empty and flat, I touch it to her side/neck. She just looks at me like, "What?" Then she goes back to eating.
Neat-O! Have you got all of the toys out there and waiting for them? Gosh, I wish that you could install cameras and lighting back there so we could see them☺ I guess that there is no such thing as raccoon-proof lighting or cameras...
Sorry, Everyone. You know that saying, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." I guess that is me this year. I have a difficult time just getting the mandatory things done lately. I'm still hoping this is a phase that I'll eventually snap out of.
Anyhow, tonight I went out to feed them on the patio. Even as I approached the door in almost total darkness, I could make out the faintest outline of Heidi's ears as she sat against the glass door waiting and hoping. Tonight she would be very happy indeed as I was carrying the bottom 'bowl' of what had been a very lush and sweet watermelon, the outer few inches saved for her, scooped out with a spoon, and piled high inside the 'bowl' just as she likes it.
I stepped out to find that a new little one had joined the group. This one was a bit bigger than the 2 I had seen the other night but still very much a cute, little toddler. For a few moments he/she didn't run away but just stood there looking up at me from only maybe 6 to 8 ft away. Then, when the little one became overwhelmed and started to dive for cover under the roses, I spoke sweetly, "It's ok, sweetie". Incredibly he stopped in his tracks 1/2 way in and 1/2 way out, his hind end protruding from under the low shrub. I spoke some more, and finally convinced the tiny fur ball come out again where he gingerly picked up a few bits of kibble and ate them even as I stood looking on.
I was quite surprised that this little one was so willing to come near me to eat when I had not spent the time out there to get to know him/her. Clearly, this is one of the more assertive and inquisitive kits. That plus the manner in which all the adults around him were eating hungrily and showing no fear had given him the courage to come out to eat even with me there.
When I was pouring the food for the adults, the baby had disappeared briefly. When I called him back to the patio, I realized I had failed to give him a 'place' setting. I went back inside and emerged with more kibble (and a few marshmallows). While talking sweetly, I managed to convince him to stay there at the corner of the patio while I gently tossed him some food. The little fella cringed a bit each time the kibble landed at his head, but he stayed his ground, seeming to grasp the fact that I was sending him food not throwing things at him. I tossed a bit to the two adults near him just to let him see that they were unafraid.
Before I left, I tossed a marshmallow to each of the adults and one to the kit. What an adorable little fluff ball he was. I didn't stay out there very long, not like I used to, but I did enjoy my moments with him/them. At some point Heidi cast me that, "Don't you have other things to do inside?" look, and I left them to eat in peace confident that other kits would surely be joining this one very soon. (Sadly, I STILL need to mow the back lawn so I can get out there. One day.)
You'll never live that one down. It was one of those adorably cute moments here at DG.
Incidentally, the other night when that cute little one came out to interact with me a bit, I came back inside thinking that I need to take the camera with me and get a pick of him. I'll be needing a new cover pic soon anyhow.
Thank for all of the wonderful birthday wishes. I totally understand about missing birthdays. It seems no matter how many times I look at the birthday announcements, I invariably seem to miss the days when my DG friends' names are listed.
I had a nice day, no huge celebration but nice. Most days in lieu of lunch I grab a quick bite at my desk and keep working. That works for me as I get more done, don't get stressed out fighting traffic, and don't loose speed and enthusiasm by breaking for a long lunch - lunch often leaves me lazy. Since I end up 'donating' that extra time to the company, I don't feel guilty when I need to take some time to run an occasional errand during the day. And since I don't often take a real lunch break, once in a great while when I do go out for lunch it's a very special treat.
Yesterday, I took myself out to lunch (there are just no ladies here with whom to lunch) as a small part of my birthday 'celebration'. It was nice out, sunny, a gorgeous day, mid 80's so not too hot, and I left shortly after 11AM to avoid the traffic. I haven't found a lot of restaurants near here, but recently when I went to renew my license I found an area very close to work where the fast food chains are quite upscale, not at all the norm. I grabbed a Coke and a huge and very delicious hamburger with lots of crunch lettuce, onions, and the like. It was very nice to get out, and since I don't do so often, I allowed myself the freedom to take my time w/o worrying about getting back on some schedule.
Although my burger was 'to die for', about 1/2 way through it I was too full to eat another bite, at least not w/o being miserable. I hated to throw it away, but I've learned that large, juicy burgers don't often keep well as the contents tend over time to soak into the bread leaving it all wet and 'doughy'. Plus there is no easy way to reheat such a combo of cold and hot ingredients w/o making a mess. All in all, it's just best to start over with a new burger if you want one. So rather than waste all that great meat, I rolled it back up in the packaging, placed it in the bag, rolled that up, and stuck it in my purse. I knew someone at home would be thrilled to have it.
As it turned out, Widget and Kitty shared the loot, and watching them eat with enthusiasm I knew I had done a good thing. Before giving it to them, parcelled out in small bite size pieces, I removed the onion as that can be quite bad for them . I also removed the lettuce, pickles, and tomato figuring they wouldn't like that stuff. I gave Kitty 1/2 the meat, and gave Widget the soggy bun along with the rest of the meat. All were thrilled.
As for pain, I've been doing quite well lately on that front. Sometimes I lack for energy and enthusiasm. I figure that's probably a combination of hormones and pain pills, the side effects of which likely do leave me tired. Lately, I've been able to mount great enthusiasm while at work, and I'm very happy for that, but I come home tired, wanting only to nap and veg out. I try to get the essentials done and otherwise go easy on myself.
Glad you treated yourself to a leisurely lunch for your b-day. Even happier to hear that your pain has been better! I'm sure that Widget & Kitty vote that your should go out to lunch more often! Enjoy your long weekend!
Last night I turned on the patio light and there on the mat and huddled against the door were a yearling and her 2 kits. These were the same kits I had seen previously, same yearling. Of the group, aside from Heidi, she is the most comfortable near me of all the yearlings, but even she often hides when I 1st walk out, only to reemerge cautiously moments later. The tiny creatures on my door mat caught me by surprise. They were so adorable, but I knew they would scatter as soon as I opened the door - and they did.
The kits and their mom moved away from the door as I walked out, food in hand. They didn't run away immediately, but as I began leaning down to pour food at various 'stations', they did finally scurry under the shrubs and disappear. It doesn't help that their mom gets a bit anxious when I walk out. As I mentioned, she often hides momentarily only to reemerge again. Thus, from the perspective of people wanting to interact with the kits, she doesn't set a very good example. Her lack of trust makes it unlikely that these kits will ever get very close to me.
I put out cat food and some marshmallows and left. A few minutes later I returned to the door to check on them. Sure enough, there were the 2 kits sitting right out on the patio amidst the kibble and eating. They were almost too cute to be real. I wanted to take them a cookie, but I knew they would just run away again, so I turned off the light and left them to eat in peace.
After years of great enjoyment feeding my winged friends, I ultimately decided to put away my bird feeders. Having an endless supply of sunflower seeds out there day and night really did attrack rats - big time. At the time I didn't have a cat. I started to see a rat here and there, always outside. It didn't help that my backyard is adjacent to the forest. Then one day I went outside to find a really weird looking squirrel sitting on the feeder muching away. I did a dbl take and realized that, OMG, that 'squirrel' was actually a RAT. I was horrified. I had never had rats on my property before. Then I saw a program on how fast they multiply. The last straw was when the copperhead took up residence in my backyard, having no doubt come for the smorgasboard of rats to fill his dining pleasures. It was after a few run-ins with the snake that I decided the birds feeders had to go - at least for now. Someday I may try again, but for now I'm happy to be rat free, even though I do miss the birds. (I have to young indoor/outdoor cats now, and while they would likely do a great job of dispatching any rats who might think of moving in, they would also eat the birds, so I still can't feed the birds.)
People often comment that my neighbors probably 'hate' me for feeding the raccoons, but actually that couldn't be farther from the truth. First off, I didn't bring the raccoons to the community by feeding them. They were here long before I started doing so. In fact, I tried for years to find a non-violent way to get RID of them before finally accepting them and learning to share the land and any surplus I may have with them and even enjoy doing so. (On that note, recently I stopped off at McD's for Latte a few mornings on the way to work and grabbed some pancakes, too. I ate the pancakes, but saved the syrup for the raccoons - I know I'm weird. Who eats pancakes w/o syrup? But, I've been doing that since I was a kid. Anyhow, the raccoons LOVE to sip syrup from a McDs syrup packet. I just pull the top off and hand it to them. They hold it in their two hands and sip it like coffee from fine china.)
Even though I know the raccoons were here before I even arrived, nonetheless, one day not so long ago I asked my next door neighbor if he ever had any problems with raccoons on his property at night. The mere look of confusion on his face as he said, "Raccoons?" said it all. It was clear he could not even imagine why I would ask such a thing. He went on to say that he had never seen the 1st raccoon in his decades living there. I should mention that my backyard is enclosed by a 6ft privacy which keeps my raccoon friends safely out of sight of prying eyes. As for the neighbors, apparently, since I feed them quite adequately, the raccoons have little incentive to go pilfering around other homes, even those right next door. Despite their comfort around me, the raccoons are still quite terrified of ALL other humans, running for the forest the minute anyone speaks in an adjoining yard. With a bounty of good food and friendly service at my house, they don't seem to see the need to endanger themselves by going to other houses where people (and dogs) may be less friendly.
On an unrelated note, I don't think I've mentioned it lately, but while the yearlings are a bit skittish when I go out on the patio, sneaking out timidly from behind flower pots (but still coming w/in 1-2ft of me) and then running back when I go to pour food for them, these days Heidi walks right up in front of me, a mere 1-2ft from my toes, and stands upright waving her hands in excitement and walking backward (on two legs) as I approach. It as though we are briefly locked in some weird waltz, me walking forward, food in hand, Heidi standing upright at my feet, moving backward in lock step with me.
I have no doubt Heidi's pre-dinner greeting would terrify most people who would undoubtedly interpret such behavior as aggression. A few years ago it would have terrified me, too, before I got to know and understand her. But she actually is not being even remotely aggressive, and has never, ever tried to grab the food or anything of the kind. This behavior of standing upright in front of me as I approach is fairly new, and I'm convinced it is her way of trying to communicate with me her excitement and appreciation for the coming meal. In years past Heidi was much more reserved around me, but now that she has loosened up a bit, this is the result. As I approach with the meal she acts almost like a cheerleader, standing upright (to get closer to my face, the communicating end), waving her hands int he air, and practically clapping to show her happiness. I think she wants me to know that she appreciates the meal. After that she resumes her more concervative behavior. It's one of the few moments when I get to see Heidi let her hair down, so to speak.
She does another think that is very cute. Just last night I was thinking I need to try to video record it. As I am inside scooping up kibble for them, she watches me through the glass door. But she doesn't just sit watching non-stop. What's cute is that she looks in for a few seconds then disappears back into the darkness only to reappear at the glass door ever few minutes to look in again. It's like she's checking on me, checking my progress, making sure I'm still working on the task of preparing her meal. By now she knows the routine very well, so between going back to check on the kids, hide out in the shrubs, and share the progress report with the others, she returns every other minute or so to look over the bottom door panel to check up on me and guage my progress - and you can see very clearly that is precisely what she is doing.
Sorry that you haven't been able to find a form of wildlife that you can enjoy without disturbing the neighbors and or encouraging rats. (Oh, on that last note, I try not to give the raccoons more than they will eat before leaving. If they do leave any, the opossums are usually waiting nearby on the back fence for their turn. Between them, they rarely leave a crumb. Still, I imagine a rat or mice must get a crumb here and there, but with 2 very active felines predators patroling the grounds, any rat crazy enough to come to my house will soon be found dead by the front door, offered up as a gift from my feline friends. Other than these rare gifts, I never see any sign of rats or snakes around my house now.) Give it time. Who knows what creature may show up one day just as Heidi showed up in my life/yard. You just have to be ready and have an open mind. As with Heidi, the animal that shows up may not be the one you were expecting or hoping for, but it may be the one for you, just the same.
I appreciate the sentiment - I have had my share of critters show up - I have been in animal rescue for years and even as a trial attorney did what I could on a pro bono basis until it all took its toll. Actually, now that I think of it, I suppose an animal did come to find me. A neighbor lady in the next block has a goat in her backyard (!) which I discovered this spring. My Lhasa died in December. She wouldn't or couldn't walk that far. My other dog and I passed this house and saw the goat - I thought the goat was new. Actually it was just we hadn't walked around the block in a long time.
I left a bag of sweet feed for the lady and a note saying how cool I thought it was that she had a goat in her yard. She in turn, left me a thank you note on my door which said to come over any time. She probably didn't expect me to take her up on that offer, but I went to visit and discovered that she didn't feed him very nutritious food, he was tethered and occasionally his chain would get wrapped up around the stake in the ground limiting the amount of "slack" he had, once it got hot the flies and the mosquitoes, no shade, no clean water. The woman means well. I am not sure if she is a hoarder, per se, but she has a tent full of "fancy" pigeons out back (they are really beautiful!) she feeds up to a dozen neighborhood cats, she has ferrets inside, 3 large-ish dogs, God knows what else inside.
So I've adopted the goat in a way. She and I have had our growing pains, her coming home from work to find me in her backyard EVERY DAY was probably irritating at first. I felt conflicted about it, but her pouring out apple jacks or several slices of white bread, or several lengths of bamboo didn't seem like a balanced healthy diet. I was walking around the block initially. One day I discovered he didn't have water so I came back in the car with a gallon jug. Started walking with a gallon in a canvas bag. Soon it was 2 gallons. Now I have a bag of alfalfa forage and a bag of mare and foal pellets in my Ford Focus hatchback. I drive over there with 4 or 5 gallons of water every night because usually the birds and cats outdoors need water too.
It takes me about 30 minutes. Sometimes I take bulk seed to the pigeons from the natural food store. I read that pigeons like dried peas(!), hard wheat, and barley - things they would find in the fields if they were out there naturally. The pigeons are all white with brown/black eyes. They have feathers down their legs and look like clydesdale horses! :)
Well it's time to go and do some more Zoo Chores. The goat (his name is Billy) likes his butt /back-side scratched. He backs up to me as a sign. Sometimes when I am next to him scratching his back looking towards his tail, he will turn and rub my backside a little with his horns. HA! Going to give him a good butt-scratching.
Thanks. What's funny is she says she's found a "home" for the goat (assuming one not on a chain with acres to roam) but she decided that I was the best thing for the goat and that now I am his surrogate mother. :D
She doesn't know that I can't hardly afford to feed the goat (I purchase alfalfa forage and mare and foal horse pellets for the goat from the feed/mill store, Southern States), but I will continue to do so as long as he's there/I'm here. I was sort of hoping she would give him to someone with pasture, but looks like we're stuck together. I'd take him in here, but he'd destroy my garden. I understand the city had some hearing about the goat (?). I'd assumed there was some ordinance against having a goat in the middle of the "city" but apparently the ordinance speaks specifically to cows and chickens, but not goats.
Under the law, if you include something specifically and do not include something else, then that something else is deemed to be excluded. Since the ordinance speaks to cows and chickens but not goats, it's apparently okay to have goats in the city of greensboro - who knew?!
The goat is funny as hell - has a personality - I feel a responsibility to him, and it's hardly an effort to go over there everyday. Besides, I'm down to 1 dog, 3 cats, an iguana, and 4 tropical fish. That's down from 4 dogs, 6 cats, 200+ gallons of fish/critter tanks, and a multitude of other critters and creepy-crawlies. So I have love and energy to spare. ;)
Maybe I'll start a goat thread somewhere else on DG. I have learned a lot about rearing them! Thanks for your kind comments.
p.s. This photo was taken in March or April - he looks a lot better now!!! :)
I need to start new threads. I'll post the links to all of them here, hopefully this afternoon.
I'm afraid we all for the most part missed the Heidi tales this summer. I just didn't get around to going out there to spend time with them. Just the other day I was thinking, with a huge sigh, that this will be the 1st crop of kits who will grow up w/o knowing me since I 1st met Heidi so many years ago. It was just a bad/difficult year for me. Getting back to work was a lot harder than I ever imagined. For the 1st month I was really in a fix. I had to wear knee braces at work (very attractive look) and by the time I got home each day it was all that I could do to limp pathetically around to feed the cats before falliing into bed in agony. It really was awful back then. In the months that followed, things improved considerably over those 1st few weeks, but I still had a good bit of pain, especially in my knees. Walking up and down even that tiny step at the back door was sufficiently painful that often I would decide to skip it. Just taking care of Widget and the cats was a huge challenge in those days. I fed the raccoons sporadically but not dependably during that time. That was before the arrival of the kits.
In addition to the difficulties due to pain, I found that I also had tremdous difficulties with my energy level once I started back at work. When I was out of work last year, I could work around the house cleaning and cooking and so forth for an hour or two and then when I got tired I could stop for a nap before doing more. At work I don't have that option to take a nap when I get tired. Working 8hr+ 5 days a week was quite a challenge (and still is). Even now I have sometimes have great difficulty making it through the day. I don't know whether it's due to the Big 'M' or lack of sleep (since I often don't sleep well at night) or my pain meds or perhaps a combination of all of these things. Whatever the reason, I struggle to get through the day (sometimes, not always) and 'stumble' home exhausted. Often I literally go straight to bed, without dinner even, as soon as I finish feeding the cats. I did this all last summer. Consequently, I missed the raccoons more often than not. I would go to sleep before dark and thus before they arrived. If I woke up at all it would be around 2-3AM, and they would be gone.
Hopefully, next season will be better. This season, between my struggles with pain and with very low energy I just did not get out there to see the raccoon very much. To be honest, this past summer I've had difficulty meeting any of my obligations. The housework has fallen behind as has the yardwork. Even the cats sometimes have difficulty getting inside to eat. Since I tend to go straight to bed after work, if they aren't at the door when I get home, they don't get in. Poor kitties. I think this also plays a part in some of Cocoa's 3 day absences. Poor fella just can't get in. I wish I knew the source of and solution to my low energy levels. I did post to the Heidi thread some over summer but nothing like I usually do. Anyhow, I'll post the links for you this evening when I get home.
I am so sorry to hear of your struggle to have a comfortable life. Although I am all too familiar with the difficulties you describe. On the rare occasion that I have a few days in a row full of commitments, it takes a couple days of rest to recover. I am very blessed to be on military pension + SSD.
You are blessed to have your life arranged in such a way that the need to work to support yourself is not an issue. It doesn't make your pain any less real nor eliminate countless other struggles in life, but it does remove one huge source of stress and anxiety.
I'm doing pretty good right now with respect to the pain, but that tends to be a constantly changing situation. Any day, at any moment, the pain could ramp up with a vengeance, and probably will at some point. Knowing this and knowing that I must somehow manage to keep working is always on my mind. Just lately, I'm having difficulties sleeping. Many night I will be awake all night long, but I still must go to work. It's hard. very hard. Yet, I know, that I too am blessed in many ways. At least I have a job and a good job, as many do not. Anyhow, I'm hanging in there. It's a day to day thing right now, but I'm hanging.
Oh, as you can see, I didn't get to make new threads yet. Like I said before, in the mornings I'm always overly optimistic about what I will get done after work. Hoping to get to that soon.
I've not been feeding the raccoons the last few weeks. Just too much going on right now. However, one night last week I put out some leftovers. I had warmed one of those large, family size, frozen entrees, a chicken & rice dish from Stouffers. As far as frozen meals go, I find them to be of higher quality than most - except for the healthy & vegetarian types like Amy's, that is. The dish was full of large chucks of white chicken meat, enough to have chicken in pretty much every bite, but, while impressed with the chicken, I wasn't that fond of the dish. I ate 1 serving and decided to toss the rest. I hated to send all that rice and nice chicken breast meat to the landfill when I knew the raccoons and other night creatures would love it. Thus I decided to set it out on the patio, sill in the folded paperboard dish it came in (and cooked in).
Later that night, I heard some noise out back and went to the patio door to get a look. There at the door was one of the youngsters, a yearling. She was too cute standing there, so I went out to give her some cat food. The large, paperboard dish that the chicken/rice came in lying there on the patio where it was already totally empty and opened out flat, now just a piece of heavy paperboard, no sign it ever contained food. The noise I had heard had been the raccoons out there arguing over the last of the food. I put out several small piles of cat food, said 'goodnight' to the one yearling who was willing to come near me, and then went back inside. I haven't been out there since, but seeing how quickly they found those leftovers it's clear that they still come by here each night to check.
I can't even recall the last time I saw a raccoon at the feeder, until tonight... I do believe it was a different one, as when i saw Buddy in the window, it seemed a bit uneasy.. plus this one is much larger then the mother i used to see. there was the few times i saw mom and kit, or a few [once i thought i saw 3 lil ones together] but again... it's been months.
water is Off in the Park [we are seasonal - 6 months on 6 months off...] this is considered the Off Season -- we go home on Thursday...
i miss seeing the coons... but i think i have saved a bunch not buying so much BOS. a few time i tossed chx bones in a bags and tossed them under the deck across the street... just knowing someone would come and get them... but I have had no sightings in months. Plus... DH would not approve that i feed the critters... birds and squirrels are enough, but not coons. so I do it on the sly... I ran out to out something in the "burn pile", and put out a small bucket of BOSS, I'll see in the AM if the raccoon came back for it... when i went out, it had left the feeder... but i did hit the leaves being rustled, as something was running up a tree.
Glad to hear you still have visitors... certainly hope Heidi makes it another winter.
I hope Heidi makes it through another winter, too - AND Cheryl! It's the 'and Cheryl' I'm laughing hysterically over, of course. I'm quite somber when thinking about Heidi and the risk that sooner or later she won't make it back. I sure hope it will be a long time before that day comes. I fantasize about moving away, moving to another house somewhere, moving for some other reason, perhaps to downsize both my house and my bills. Then in a Schrodinger's cat sort of way, Heidi would live forever. She really wouldn't, of course, but in my mind she would. What I'm saying is if we never actually see her go, never witness the event, then it didn't really happen. Right? If she were still alive and well when I moved, we could go on forever believing she was still alive. Unfortunately, I can't move in this financial climate. I would loose my shirt - and my pants - in the sale. The good news is the old girl seems quite healthy still. She really seems to be hanging in there.
Lately, I've been so caught up in Cheryl's issues that I forgot all about Heidi's age. I guess I should get back out there and feed her through the winter. That's the one thing I can do to try to prolong her good health and strength.
As for hoping Cheryl makes it through another winter, I found that to be adorable. All my problems and complaints not withstanding, I think, short of an unanticipated event, I think I can probably hold out another year. lol.
Truth be told, I'm really worried about my sister. She's a good 10yrs younger than me. I always thought of her as the healthy one, but lately she's having some serious health problems. I've been wanting to tell you guys about it but just havent had time. Now it seems the longer I wait to tell you, the more things keep getting piled on her list of ailments. It really is getting scary. Hopefully this weekend I'll find time to make new threads so I can tell you about that on the OT thread. Gotta run. work becons.
I have kept your sister in my prayers. That darned infection debilitates and weakens the whole body. My cousin had it in his leg 18 months ago and still has not gained his health back. I had teased him for the last 20 years about his being the oldest living member of the family (he is 64 now) and now that he really looks bad, I can't say anything about it. Well, he noticed that I had to admit to being afraid that he was too ill to tease... I am sorry that your DSis is in the same boat as he is.
The oldest living member of your family is only 64? Wow, you might be in the same boat as my sister & me. I think our oldest living family member may be 50 something, and mid 50's at that. It's not encouraging as to the life expectancy of our DNA. Better to have a couple of family members in their 90's and still going strong, I think. Ouch. Sorry to hear your cousin realized your were feeling too bad for him to even tease him anymore.
Actually, my sister's finger, that's where she had the infection that time, did finally heal. The finger has some lingering nerve damage, but the infection is long gone. But now she has something ELSE which may be worse. It's like I can't let her go out of the house at all w/o her getting some horrible malady - and she is only like 40, btw (don't tell her I gave that away), not nearly old enough to be having all these problems. She still has a kid in elementary school for heck sake. I don't know what I'll do with her when she gets older - not that I'm doing all that much better. I'm telling you, we don't seem to have the good genes for longevity.
LOL, Cheryl, I'm so glad that you saw the at my problems are not a look around to see the humor in my last post, as it was meant. Sometimes I have to really take really that big compared to so many other suffering people. We'll be fine, just keep your chin up (wonder how that saying got started?)
Hugs & prayers,
Sheri & my house full of quadrupeds & fish (lg aquarium)
Oh, did I tell you that my new pup is a Maltese-poodle mix named Harmony. Those round dark eyes and black button nose really tug at my heart. She is pretty smart too, knowing the correct name of many of her toys when I ask her to find whatever.
Almost forgot to mention. Last night I had baby back ribs for dinner. I gave Widget one cleaned bone to gnaw on. It's like a baby's passifier for him. I put the rest of the bones outon the patio with meat and fat still on them. I left the sweet BBQ sauce on them, too, and left the sauce in the bottom of the container. It was about an inch deep in sauce. I considered putting the sauce down the disposal and just giving them the bones/meat, but then I remembered how much they always liked sweet things and decided to leave the sauce.
I was a little concerned about the patio floor, not wanting all that sauce spilled all over the place, but I needn't have worried. When I turned the light on later to check up on them, every drop of the BBQ sauce was gone, and the bones were all stripped bare. True to their usual tidy nature, they did not spill even a drop of the sauce. I keep forgetting they are not dogs though. They enjoy getting the meat and fat, but do not gnaw on or eat bones. Well, they do eat chicken bones, but I guess that's because cooked chicken bones just crush easily under the pressure of their sharp teeth. For them eating chicken bones is like eating crackers, just crunchy food. They could probably have eaten some or all of those small rib bones, too, but it would probably have taken a lot of gnawing, like what dogs do, and raccoons don't seem to have time for that sort of thing. They come. They eat. And they leave, no time for things like bones and rawhide, the things dogs love to chew on.
What I wanted to tell you though is that I turned on the light to find that one yearling out there, the one that often comes up to the door and stands upright asking for food. She was there with one kit. The kit was getting up in size, like maybe equivalent to a 10yr old but still very noticeably smaller than even the smallest adults and still very, very cute. They were both out there finishing up the ribs and looking around for crumbs. The kit saw me 1st but didn't run away. I was at the door, on the other side of the glass. The kit lifted its head from the now empty dish it had been licking and just stood staring up at me. It was only about 5ft away.
After a minute or so the mom saw me. She came right up to the door and stood upright looking in at me clearly hoping I would see her and give her something. When I went out with the food, she and the youngster hid behind nearby shrubs just as I knew they would. She has always been that way. She spent enough time around me the previous year to feel very comfortable coming up to the door to ask for handouts, and she is the only one of that group that will do so, but unless Heidi is around to enbolden her, she always disappears when I go outside but comes back minutes later to eat what I left.
Yes, Maltese do have adorable, little faces. Glad things are going well with your new little one.
Unfortunately, I could not read the 1st paragraph. I think keyboard problems took the meaning out of that one. Check it out, and you will see what I mean. I know you are having issues with your laptop keyboard and that you are waiting for a model/design change before cashing in on your warranty, but I think I have the answer to your problem in the mean time. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Check it out. All you need is a USB keyboard. You can get one for under $20. All you have to do is plug it into one of the USB slots on your laptop and start typing (w/o the problems posed by your current keyboard). Wouldn't that be great? Here is a link showing one: http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-920-002478-Keyboard-K120/dp/B003ELVLKU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319592419&sr=8-1
And here's a quote from that same page: "Wired for simplicity. Simply plug it into your USB port and start typingóworks with Windows-based PCs. " (It works for Linux, too, but I know you are using Windows.)
There are plenty of others on this site, and they are also available from virtually any store that sells computers. We use these at work all the time, so I can't believe I didn't think of it before. You don't have to know anything. No setup required. Just plug it in and type. Unplug when you want to put the laptop away. Just be sure to get one that says "USB keyboard". The "USB" is very important. You may or may not be able to plug a 'regular' keyboard into the laptop, depending on the types of connectors available, but USB will be much simpler to deal with. What do you think?
I was so excited to think that I had come up with a solution and so eager to tell you about it, I neglected to notice that really your typing has been much better lately - most of the time, except for that one paragraph. If you aren't even looking for a solution, please overlook my post. Most of the time I'm able to read your posts fine lately - except that one paragraph. I know at one time you indicated that the keyboard was driving you mad and keeping you from posting as often as you would like. If you are looking for a solution, I think the USB keyboard would be it. If not, just ignore my suggestion.
That's what we use them for at work - and why I can't believe I didn't think of this idea sooner. We use mostly laptops these days, but most people prefer a regular keyboard and mouse to the laptop keyboard and the trackpad. For the most part laptop keyboards and trackpads are not ergonomic. Designed to fit a lot of stuff in a small space, ergonomics get compromised. I prefer to use the laptop input mechanisms only because I am habituated to them, but management and colleagues often hound me about it trying to get me to use the separate keyboard and mouse. I'm too lazy, plus I'm used to using my laptop at home in ways and places where a separate keyboard and mouse would get in the way. I do use my optical mouse sometimes at work. I've been using the trackpad so much over the past 5yrs or so that I have a sort of carpal tunnel thing going on in my thumb and index finger from trackpad motion.
Sheri has, or at least at one time had, a problem with her laptop keyboard. As a result of a liquid spill in the keyboard, many of the keys were sticking and producing unexpected characters and actions when she tried to type. Thus I thought a separate keyboard would be a perfect fix. Previously, when discussing the problem we had all been focused on the need to fix the laptop keyboard and the difficulties thus involved. The typing does look much better lately though.
The one way that I will reliably use external devices (keyboard and such) at work is when I have a docking station, the kind where you just sit the closed laptop on the dock, click it in place, and then use the keyboard, mouse, and monitor(s) that remain constantly attached to the dock. That way there is no need to plug things in and unplug them again to carry the laptop home. You just pick it up from the dock and walk off with it - and instantly it becomes a 'laptop' again. The next day you sit it on the dock again and it becomes a desktop. I had that setup before and loved it. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't make a doc like that for the Mac. It's the one thing that I find missing with the Mac. They do have a system where if you buy the Apple monitors (flat), you can plug the keyboard and other things into the monitor. Then all you have to do is plug/unplug one cable into the laptop to come and go. You don't need an A/C adapter, nor do you have to plug the laptop into the wall socket for power. The one cable from the monitor does it all.
I guess because of the way I use mine, I like to keep it portable. That plus laziness makes me reluctant to plug/unplug keyboards constantly. But if you leave the laptop on your desk most of the time, using it like a desktop, then the external keyboard is not a problem. That is how most of the people at work use them.
I so agree on that last statement. It is definitely not for the faint of heart by any means. MacBook Pro keyboards are also backlit. You can customize many aspects of that behavior like the lighting level and whether it stays lit even when closed. You can also turn it off/on entirely. My guess is you can probably also get external keyboards with that feature albeit at a higher price.
I did google them once [full key boards, back lit ] bout a hundred bucks.
my kid, you know Alex -- he's been goign to school at an art school... they are very heavy into Macs...
he's been asking about them... *sigh* I'm not ready to drop that kind of cash on a computer for him.
If he gets a J O B -- then maybe.
I'm behind you all the way on that JOB thing, Terese,
I see so many retired and retiring parents out there struggling to provide everything their kids want, no matter what. They seem to forget that those kids, especially the one's who have graduated high school can work, too. Kids have a lot more stamina, too, at their age. It won't hurt them to work a few extra hours here and there to get things. It will probably even make them feel better about themselves and make them appreciate things more.
As you know, I'm BIG on the Mac, but while I like the look and feel of Macs and the way they work, when you get right down to it, there is nothing you can do with a Mac that you can't do with any other computer. Macs just do it better and easier, in my opinion. But you are NOT holding him back in art class by failing to by him a Mac.
On the other hand, most working artists also seem to be Mac fans. I read this in art magazines, not computer magazines. I'll be reading an article about this or that artist and it's amazing how often they mention taking photos on sight (along with sketches) and then working from the photos displayed on a Mac they keep near their easel. Some use just the MacBook Pro but many use a separate, large iMac monitor. The resolution on those large iMac screens is unbelievable. I had one of those giant iMac billboard monitors at work a while back and the difference between a high res photo displayed on the iMac vs a windows laptop (a multimedia laptop at that) was amazing.
All that said, as a student, he is probably adequately served with a regular laptop. When he is graduates and is older, more mature, and more skilled in his field, then he will have more need of the Mac setup. You know what I mean? We always want the best of everything, if we can get it, but students don't really need the most professional grade products and equipment while they are learning and practicing. Atleast, that's how I see it.
When I was 17 I convinced my Mom to buy me a small box of 24 Grumbacher pastels, a decent brand but far from the top of the line. She also bought me a basic set of Grumbacher paints and brushes. I took one semester of lessons (in high school, not private) from a guy who normally taught private lessons but who was for some reason 'slumming' at the school that one year. He taught us how to use the products, very basic skills. He liked my work and brought other teachers and friends around to see it. He showed me how to sell my work. Over the next 2 years, armed with only that little box of pastels and a few basic tubes of paint, I went out on my own and created and sold some 30 something paintings plus a number of pastels.
Today, I have a $1000 box of very high end pastels imported from Germany, one of the top brands used by professional artists. It contains hundreds of colors/shades. I also have boxes of a number of other brands, each considerably larger than that little box of 24 and each a much better and more professional brand. I have all manner of paints, oils, acrylics, watercolor (100's of tubes of watercolor). I have more supplies than anyone needs, and all excellent quality products, the ones used by the top artists. Funny thing though. Despite all the paintings I produced and sold with that tiny, almost inadequate box of pastels and a handful of tubes of paint, I've not produced (much less sold) a single painting since I aquired all these fabulous supplies.
I also have a Mac, a high res camera, 100's of photos, and almost every art book in print in the past several decades, I had none of these things going for me when I was producing and selling paintings. Oh, and now I have just about every kind of support there is, all manner of watercolor and pastel paper, all kinds of canvases. Back when I was so productive, I could only afford cheap pastel panels. I did my pastels on typing paper. But I did them just the same, and I sold them as fast as I finished them. Sold the last one online to a gallery. Sold several to a Dr, one to a nurse, a few to the mayor.
The point I'm trying to make here is that while it's nice to have quality products, they are not the deciding factor. I was far more prolific when limited to the most meager supplies plus a whole lot of energy, determination, and heart. Now I have the money to buy what I want, but have produced NOTHING. Giant goose egg. And limited supplies didn't stop me from selling my work, either. Bottom line, productivity and creativity are in the heart and in the head, not in the purse. If he has it in him to be a good artist, lack of a Mac will not hold him back, and he will have plenty of time to get that Mac when he is on his own and supporting himself with his work.
Well, you didn't ask, but that's my 2 cents - and you know how I feel about the Mac.
yes i know.. and I sort of knew i'd get a long response when i mentioned the MAC.
When Alex asked about them a week or so ago, i mentioned yours.
he's got the talent, the school [Institute of Art] will help him sharpen his skills and hopefully help him get a J. O. B.
have to admit, though i don't like to.. he taught himself to do tattoos... and he's quite good at it.
Just never really wanted to say, My kid is a tattoo artist... something about the stigma of that.
Wonderful suggestion Cheryl. I do still spend much less time typing responses or comments. It is really challenging at times to go back and figure out what the gobbledygook that I typed was intended to be. I quite often just erase it and do not comment. I'm gonna give your idea a good try.
The comment RE "a long response...Mac" caused me to do a half snort in lieu of laughter. If anyone heard me they are probably wondering if I'm laughing or choking.
RE tatoos, they don't carry quite the stigma they once did. I was shocked 2yrs ago to find that one of the government engineers in SC (that's triple conservative, btw - in behavior and ideals not politics - gov, eng, sc, all very conservative) had, no kidding, a very intricate, near full body tatoo, flowers and stuff, starting just under his chin and terminating at both wrists. I couldn't see where else it may have terminated due to socks, shoes, etc. But for the tattoo he was a very attractive guy - I'm not pro-tattoos. He was also one of the more important and well liked people in the group. I was shocked that the gov had hired him for such a concervative/professional position, since the tattoo spilled out beyond his shirt sleeves and collar, such that it was basically impossible to conceal it. And in SC, no less. I might have found it more believable if he had been hired to work in CA, but Charleston, SC? It was clear, however, that he was well liked and command much authority. The tattoes did not appear to have hurt him professionally.
I thought about it, the whole tattoo thing, and concluded that subsequent generations will probably be very accepting of tattoes having all grown up with them. I think by the time this next generation reaches the job age tattoes will be so common place and so normal that no one will even give them a 2nd look. When that happens, the negativity currently attached to them will also be gone. They along with nose (and other) rings will just be as natural as clothing and jewelry. Think about it. By that time the people making the decisions will be the same people who grew up amidst a plethora of nose rings and tatooes.
I rethought the Mac thing. The price has come down a good bit, you know. The last time I checked, the 12" was around $1k. The 15" around $2K, maybe less, and the 17", I think, about $2.5k. When I purchased, the 15" was $3k. I'm glad to see the price drop. I just hope they didn't sacrifice quality to get it there. Anyhow, the 12" would be very doable, but he probably wants the 17" to display photo references - or maybe the 12" with the giant billboard iMac flat screen. That used to be several thousand, too, but I don't know what the price is now. That iMac is awesome for a painting reference.
Super. I'm glad you like the idea. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. I think you will be happy with it once you try it out. Incidentally, the one at the link has very close to a perfect 5star rating based on several hundred opinions. Looks like a very good choice. I saw another one for only $8 and was considering suggesting that one until I noticed that it had a very low rating; people were having problems with it, but this one looks good.
The great thing about USB is that you can plug it in and unplug it w/o having to reboot the computer. Also, you won't need to worry about installing software or anything like that. Just plug and type. I figured you would like that - I know I would.
The only thing is you should check to make sure you have a USB connector on your computer. I can't imagine a scenario in which a newish laptop would fail to have at least 1. Most have several these days. Do you know what a USB connector looks like or where yours are? They are sort of flat or thin and retangular. They are usually marked with a 3 pronged symbol (above or beside them) that looks a bit like a pitch fork or bird's foot. The center prong is longer than the 2 outer ones.
Good luck. Hope that works for you and gets you typing and talking again like old times. ; )
It is SO good to see you again! I missed you, too. Oh...and I just love the line "***Note to self...lighten all Cherlys photos of patio to "remove" all bbq sauce possibly left behind." That is just adorable. It brightened my day with a big, big smile.
Actually, the raccoons are amazingly careful dinner guests who rarely ever leave even so much as a drip or a stain out there on the patio. I tell you, they may be better in that respect that many human diners. I have trouble eating ribs w/o getting sauce on something, so I find it quite incredible that they managed to pull ribs out of a dish an inch deep in BBQ sauce and eat everything ribs and sauce included without spilling the 1st drop, but they did. (But YOU can lighten the photos if you like. I'm just that happy to see you back.)
Now about that incident that started it all - with the photo lightening thing - I sure hope you didn't really feel bad about that. I didn't. I found it quite hilarious. It was just too ironic that moments after I decided to post the photo w/o lightening it, this to conceal all the mess on the patio, and moments after I had reassured myself that it would be ok to do so because in the darkened photo no one would notice the unkempt patio replete with trash bag and other signs of disorder, I looked again with disbelief to find that the same photo had been reincarnated in a much lighter version, every leaf, twig, and trash bag now fully exposed for all the world to see - AND that the culprit had done so under the guise of 'helping' me. Oh, Debbie, that was just too, too hilarious for words and too adorable. But I was never really upset, just rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. So, again, I sure hope you didn't really beat yourself up about it. Having all of my messiness laid bare for all the universe to see was no big thing really. ROTFLMAO!
Yep, that one will live forever - and you will never be permitted to live it down. It was just too perfect. In a world replete with strife that moment was, in its innocence, just way too downright hilarious to ever be forgotten.
Cheryl, no, I didn't take it badly...I was chuckling, but I did feel "OHHH should have asked first". That is something someone would do to me with my pictures.
I have had a health issue going on for about seven weeks now, and although reading, not able to post much. A brief synopsis: Went in for surgery to have an ovary removed...came out unable to move my legs or walk. Was in the hospital for a week and transferred to a rehab facilty. Came home in a wheelchair and using a walker. Making improvements daily...but sure is a long process. I had severe nerve damage done. THere is a forum on Prayers I think it is two threads now...about the ordeal. BUT...I am improving, can wiggle toes now and getting improvements on moving around.
Sure am glad you are back to posting...and YOU take care of yourself also!
Oh my goodness, Debbie - we don't know each other, but I sure hope you are coming along after your surgery. My BF just commented on Andy Rooney's death how more gets wrong with people after going to the hospital. :/
Thanks also Cheryl for explaining the photo lightening comments as I have read it so many times I have just taken it for granted. ;)
Oh, I am SO sorry to hear about all of this - the surgery and everything. How terrifying that must have been for you. My greatest fear - down right obsession really - when given a spinal block for surgery was that I might end up paralyzed, that the feeling might not come back to my legs. Getting my legs working again was all I could even think about from the time I got that spinal block until I could stand up again. How horrible it must have been to actually come out of surgery and find that you could not walk.
I had no idea about any of this. Since I went back to work I've been too caught up in my own difficulties - nothing nearly as bad as your own, mind you, just having difficulty getting back into the swing of things and having the energy to get through the day and still get things done at home -- but I've just not been able to find the time to keep up with my own threads, so I've not been getting out and about on DG.
I am so sorry to hear about the difficulties you are going through that, well, honestly, I feel like I must be in denial right now. I just can't accept this news. It's just so wrong, so unfair. You've had so much bad stuff on you these last few years, and now this? I feel like I want to get down on the floor like a little kid and kick and scream and throw a tantrum. Forgive me for being so dramatic, but that's how I feel. It's just not right.
I'm also sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Honestly, the news really hit me hard. I had to take some time to wrestle with it, to try to wrap my head around it and accept it. I just couldn't respond right away. I'm still stomping my feet, refusing to accept it.
I'm glad that you seem to be handling it well though. Above all, I'm especially happy to hear that you've seen improvement. I'm keeping you in my thoughts & prayers, hoping for a complete recovery. Like they told my sister, it may take a while, and you may have to be patient, but, hopefully, it will all work out well eventually. I sure hope so.
In case I didn't mention this before - and this is something, a family trait of some kind, my sister and I discovered while reminiscing after Mom got sick - but I/we handle bad stuff by going into a period of suspended animation of sorts, the duration and depth of which is related to the severity of the problem. We discovered that this is something we both do. It was somehow comforting to realize that, maybe because it meant we were not alone in this seemingly peculiar behavior. Neither of us could understand the origin of the behavior either, as we never saw either of our parents or even a distant relative do this, and yet both she and I use this same coping mechanism. Strange.
Basically, when faced with something bad, something upsetting, we retreat for a while to process it. If it's bad enough to be upsetting but not overwhelming, we may continue to function more or less normally while processing the information in the background. If it's so bad as to be momentarily overwhelming, like learning that Mom had Alzheimers or like loosing my job during the recession while I was also having disability issues along with the big 'M', I/we take to the bed and sleep for a while, maybe a day, maybe even 2 or 3 days depending on the size of the problem. It's like the overwhelming problems require such intense processing effort as to require 100% of our faculties thus requiring that we temporarily shut down non-vital processes while wrestling with the problem (i.e. sleeping all afternoon or day). It's a coping mechanism. It's how we process bad news. We retreat. We process the information. Then we return/resume.
We don't go into a deep depression and stay in bed. When the problem is bad enough to require it, we sleep a day or a weekend, however much is needed to process it, and then we actually get up and become very actively engaged in doing what needs to be done to handle things. Totally the antithesis of depression. It's just very odd that we both do this. I never, ever, ever saw my Mom in bed except at night, never even saw the woman take an afternoon nap, much less take to the bed for a day over bad news. Same with Dad. If this is a learned behavior, it's a mystery where we learned it. If it's genetic, it's equally mysterious that others in the family did not manifest the same behavior. Strange.
At any rate, if you hit me with bad news, and I disappear for a day or 2 or 3, this may be why. It may not be bad enough to cause me to take to my bed to process it, but I may need to retreat into my world for a while to process it while otherwise going about my life as usual. Sometimes I need to do some 'processing' for a while before I can respond. It's weird. I know. Like I said, it's some kind of weird family trait.
((((Cheryl))))) Thank you for your kind words and responding.
I think right now, I am so confused as I did NOT have a spinal block or block of anykind. BUT...I am doing better. Every day seems a bit better, and I am so much like you. I crawled into a shell at first. Put the "gag order" on DH and kids...do NOT tell anyone!!!!
Didn't even tell my kids the first 24 hours...as I was sure it would be better. I think we have a "processing" gene...that makes us crawl in the shell...process all this mentally, and then build some coping stragety.
You know, I can't explain this...but I have been so "calm" since this happend. As I told a dear friend, it is me...not my kids...so I will deal with it as I can, one day at a time.
AND...lets enjoy your Heidi thread, hear about the kitties and YOU. Sure hope work is going better for you, and you are able to get more rest once getting home.
Last season I lamented the fact that I really didn't find the time and energy to spend with the raccoons. I hated letting so many of you down. I also felt a sadness at the realization that this year for the very 1st time since I 1st met Heidi, the newest members of the group did not have the opportunity to get to know me and feel comfortable around me, a fact which may effect my future relationship with the entire group for years to come. But, alas, it just wasn't to be.
I haven't seen a raccoon out there for months, not since the last time I posted about it. Several times I put food out, especially when I had left-overs or bones which I thought they might like. I also put out entire packages of bread and/or rolls a time or two after finding the 1st tiny spot of mold. I know from prior experience that a little mold does not stop raccoons. Still, any time I looked out there hoping to see an old friend or friendly face, it never happened. A few times I did see an opossum out there chowing down but no raccoons.
Tonight I rushed home, tossed something in the microwave to heat up, and set about undressing and winding down. Some 10min later I was on my way back to the kitchen to eat. Just as I was noticing the intense and yummy aroma permeating the room from my dinner, I heard a very distinct noise at the patio door, a sort of clanging sound. Something was clearly clanging something around the back door. At 1st I thought it might be Cocoa although he has never done anything of the sort before.
I arrived at the door and threw on the light to see one of the [now older] kits. Older now, but still noticeably smaller than an adult and still very adorable, she appeared to be alone out there in the darkness. She was standing on the raised door facing (some 5in above the patio), her body pressed lengthwise up against the bottom of the door. I opened the door expecting to see her flee in terror, but she stood right there on the door facing even as I looked down upon her back through the open door. At 1st she didn't even seem to realize that I was there (or that I had opened the door and was now only inches from her). Then, spying the gap in the door but still seemingly unaware of me standing there just over her body, she moved as if to come inside. There was a brief interval in which I really thought she was coming in.
It was at that moment that she appeared to realize for the 1st time that I was standing there. She turned the other way, got down from the door facing and made her way back across the patio. She wasn't moving particularly fast. A little less than 1/2 way across the patio, she stopped to look back at me. Instead of running away afraid, she stood up on her hind legs and clasp her little hands together at about chest height, a bit below her face. She stood in that position looking up at me for a few minutes, looking so demur with her hands clasp in front of her that way, She was about 5ft away. Given that I had not taken the time to get to know the kids this year, I was surprised that she did not seem especially afraid as she stood there looking at me.
She seemed to know me as the provider of goodies and to be waiting and hoping that I might give her something. So taken aback was I that I didn't even utter a sound, not even my characteristic, "It's ok." I just stood there looking back at her, stricken momentarily with how incredibly cute she was.
After a few minutes, she turned away from me and walked the rest of the way across the patio disappearing behind the large plant pots there leaving only her large fluffy tail exposed. It was at this moment that I spoke to her for the 1st time, although I don't recall what exactly I said. Although I was certain she would not reemerge, I, nonetheless, called out to her in hopes of cajoling her out of her hiding place.
Much to my extreme surprise, her furry little face reappeared sticking out from behind the pots. She was looking directly up at me and listening intently as I talked. I could not believe it. Here despite my failure to spend time with them last year was this lone youngster very clearly interacting with me. She understood my purpose as the supplier of food and was waiting, hoping that I might offer her something now.
The only sense I could make of any of this was that she must surely be that one tiny kit with whom I had actually had some interaction last summer. She was not Heidi's but was the daughter of one of the yearlings who had been out there with Heidi last summer. She was one of only 2 kits I had seen that summer and was the one very brave kit who had been on the patio a time or two when I was out there putting out food. I had even giver her cookies and marshmallows a few times back then. I recall at the time how, after seeing that her mother, Heidi, and the other adults were not afraid of me, she had come out from hiding last summer to take her cookie. Now here she was, hungry, and hoping for a treat. What amazing memories they have as she had been a tiny thing back then, and I had only seen her a mere handful of times.
I closed the door and went back inside for some kibble which I placed on the patio. I could no longer see her. I put the food down and left. About 30 min later when I came back to the door expecting to get a look at her out there eating, I found that both she and the food were gone.
I have no idea what she had been doing out there to make that clanging sound. A quick check after she was gone did not reveal any sign of problems, although I do find it a bit daunting to think she may have been messing with the house or door or otherwise trying to get inside. I'm hoping I'm wrong about that. She may have been messing with some of the junk out there, I guess, although it's really quite unusual for a raccoon to make noise that way. They are usually very stealthy creatures, little ninjas really, knowing that sound will reveal them to predators. Strangely, it was almost as if she had been knocking on the door, rapping on of those door clanger things (which I don't have, btw) to summon me to the door to feed her - but that couldn't be, could it? No, surely, she could not be that smart, could she?
Regardless, no harm was done. She was an absolute darling, and I enjoyed the opportunity to see her again.
Awww - thanks Cheryl for the post. What a precious moment for you and the kit. :)
The crow I rescued over the summer and released back into my backyard comes every morning now, CAW-ing for breakfast. He hangs out with his buddies, 3 of the crow babies that were raised this summer by a neighborhood murder (bunch of crows is called a murder!).
Anyway. They all must have ways of trying to get our attention. If they really want it. ;)
Oh, I know you must be very happy to see him (the crow). A few years back I helped to save a severely injured raccoon, and it was so nice to see her the following year when she came back and, on one occasion, even lay on the rug at my backdoor nursing her tiny babies. I thought, "wow, now that is trust."
I used to have a 'pet' bird or two myself back in the day. I finally had to give up on feeding the birds - for now - but back when I was doing so my tiny backyard was overflowing with all manner of lovely birds. They brought such joy into my life. Even had a bluebird family (rare in this area now) and an indigo bunting (who also visited frequently and brought his lady friend).
By chance have you read my Mr T thread? It's an older thread. I think it's only maybe 2 threads long. Mr T was a tufted titmouse who for some odd reason decided to destroy my house starting with the window screens which he sat and patiently 'unzipped' as though his beak were a can opener. I started the thread to ask for advice on how to deter him from his obsession. People offered all manner of ideas and tried many of them. Soon I had windows adorned with frieghtful owl eyes, trees festooned with dangling CDs, and even a motion activated hose testing the water tightness of my siding each time T flew by, and yet there amidst all that stuff sat T noisily pecking at those window screens. It became quite a riot.
Most incredibly the following summer, after Mr T finally got over his fascination with my window screens (after destroying a few), he still came to see me. He began to swoop down from the trees and dive straight for my head every time I went out back to work in my floor garden. He would flit about in the air inches above my head, fly away, return. Then one day he landed on my head. He did that several times. For a while there I could not go outside w/o Mr T finding me and landing on my head. I even got a picture of him up there. Crazy bird. I have cats now (indoor/outdoor types), so I don't get to see T anymore. I miss that crazy bird. Glad you still get to see 'yours'.
ha ha - love the Mr T escapades, no - I have not read the thread. I think I was just browsing the Wildlife forum when I found this thread it took me so long to read I couldn't browse any further. :D
I read the story about your nursing the racoon back to health - was it Bear? Can't remember it's been so long since I read, but it's clear that wild creatures are so misunderstood. In fact, they were here first, and it's a wonder they let us stay.
I have made a number of pals in a variety of the forums and threads here on DG. Funny, a woman who shall remain nameless has been going on about how dangerous the racoons are at the back of her yard and feels they have appeared because her dog died recently. I sent her a link to this thread and of course said you were crazy. I said to her, "I think YOU are crazy" in the kindest way, of course.
If you're crazy Cheryl, I'd rather be crazy than sane. Tried living the sane way and it did not agree with me. I quit my real job (corner office lawyer - HA!) and stopped full time in 2007. I've had a number of odd but fulfilling jobs since then, in school now for a master's degree in environmental assessment at NC State. Long story there, but they all are, aren't they? If we can't find joy in our own backyards - as we are all here apparently for our love of the outdoors/garden - where ever can we find it?! I for one would love to have a yard full of racoons or possums for that matter, but it's location, location, location.
I am content with the crows. I stopped feeding the birds this summer completely which saddened me, but in feeding the crows we discouraged the hawks (that was a deliberate decision as they compete for territory). I didn't like them preying on the mourning doves that gather here in winter. I took a photo last year of over 40 doves right on the ground outside my backdoor.
In any event, favoring the crows and ground feeding birds brought me a rodent problem. My yard was literally teeming (and I don't use that word lightly) with brown rats. Cute buggers, but when you talk about dangerous . . . oh I'm sure they're as harmless as they can be. But anyway . . ..
Even had the health department in my driveway one day over the summer because when I stopped feeding the birds naturally all the critters went somewhere else. Apparently I was to blame for "feeding the rats." Well surely that was an unintended consequence. When the health inspector dude came to my house (and only MY house) he said "this neighborhood has a rat problem." I said, "Yeah, I've noticed." He said, "people are going to have to put out poison." I said, "You are not going to put poison in MY yard." He looked at me like I had 6 heads. He repeated himself. And so did I. Then he said, "Well something has got to be done." And I said, "Good luck with that."
My BF said the health inspector was probably used to people freaking out because there are rats hanging around. Me - I was like, "the hawks seem to be taking care of the problem" and that's why he looked at me like I was full of shiza.
Yeah, well. I thought I'd share that little vignette even tho' there's a scant precious amount of daylight left.
Enjoy - hugs and kisses to all of you who care for the critters.
It seems that the racoon sagas have diminished greatly (due to many factors). I miss the stories, but understand lives change (especially with medical and employment issues).
In my own case the racoons have simply stopped coming over the last 3 months - before that I had at least one every night for about 2 years. Now - nothing. I don't know if neighbor dogs barking have caused this - the dogs bark but do not come onto my property because they wear electric collars (which distresses me, but is beyond my control). They stay on their property which is at least 100 ft from us (and wooded, although we can see them now because the leaves are down). They just bark - could this have alarmed the racoons so much that they don't come from the more densely wooded areas on all other sides? If so, I hope time will solve it as the racoons may realize the dogs are not real threats. I hope so - I miss the little furry guys (and gals) although "everyone" kept warning me "how dangerous they are".
Sorry, yes, the story has been largely missing lately, but hang in there. Depending on how things go, I may be back in spring.
As for your bunch, a few things. 1st of all, in all likelihood, all of the adult raccoons that visit your yard are probably females. Males tend to remain deep in the forest, and are rarely seen in backyards. 2nd, those females are MUCH, much hungrier early spring through late summer, because during that time they are gestating, nursing, and later looking for enough food for them and their kits. Those nursing moms are eating machines. This time of year, their appetites are quite noticeably diminished, enough that sometimes they can even find enough food in the forest, and thus may not make it to your yard on their dinner trek.
Mine don't show up as reliably in winter, and some years they don't show up at all for 3-4 months in late fall/winter, but they always come back again as soon as breeding season begins. If they do show up here in fall, they hardly eat a handful before they are full and leave. The difference between summer and winter is quite noticeable.
Another thing to consider is that raccoons don't tend to come out in search of food when the mercury drops too low. Even when mine are coming daily in winter, they fail to show up on nights when the temp falls much below freezing. We don't have snow (maybe a dusting every 10yrs), but I've read they tend to hibernate when it's very cold out & when there is enough snow on the ground to make it hard to find food. Raccoons are distant relatives of bears, and while they can't actually hibernate all winter like their long lost cousins, in colder areas they do 'hibernate' for shorter periods of time (forgot the name for this right now) during which their heart rate drops to near 0 as does their need for calories. Depending on how cold it is there, this may also effect your bunch.
As for the dogs, it is possible that barking dogs might scare the raccoons for a while, and with good reason, since, sadly, dogs a primary source of injury and death for raccoons. If the dogs have been there for years, and/or if the raccoons were coming to eat previously while the dogs were around, then I doubt that is the reason. On the other hand, if the dogs are relatively new and if you haven't seen the raccoons since the arrival of the dogs, then the dogs may be a factor. That said, I strongly suspect that when spring comes around and their appetites shift into high gear, the raccoons will be back. At 1st they may hang back and watch the dogs, but raccoons are very smart, and I suspect, when they get hungry enough to take more risks, they will probably figure out that the dogs can't get to your yard. They may, especially in the beginning, only sneak over to your yard when the dogs are sleeping (i.e. late at night).
If they don't show up on their own in spring, you might try putting a small amount of food out close to the forest (depending on concerns about attracting large predators, not sure what you have there) and then slowly moving the location a few feet forward every week (only if they are eating it) to entice them into the yard by giving them incentive to take the risk a little at a time.
If all else fails, you might consider erecting a pseudo-fence. Even a short length of fence along that side of the backyard & attached to nothing at the ends would probably do the trick to help the raccoons feel safer despite the dogs. My backyard is fenced, and the raccoons still came here even when my neighbor had a barking pit bull actually tethered to the fence. If a length of fence is not an option, how about a row of dense shrubs, a living fence, something 5 or 6ft high?
Thanks for such a quick response - in spite of all your problems, you are apparently watching your threads. The dogs are new, but I think the racoon drop off began before the dogs started up. Maybe you are correct and part of this is just natural reduction for the colder weather. We will see as spring comes around. I know that I used to put out food every night and it disappeared. Then in November what I put out just stayed until I moved it myself - as though the previous eater had moved away. Maybe that will change in the spring, as you suggested.
As far as a physical barrier is concerned, there is actually a strip of woods between us and the dogs. In the summer it is quite dense and the dogs cannot be seen - only heard. Now that the leaves are down, I can spot them, but they are not really close. Although they could come to the property line, they appear to stay close to their house. They are not bad dogs and do not bark hysterically - just in response to interesting stuff they see and hear. Once they have alerted that something is moving around, they quiet down. So they are not a bother to us - but maybe are distressing to racoons.
Thanks for advising me. I will hope for the return of the critters in the next few months. What we seem to have most now is deer munching on the shrubs. I find their tracks every morning and occasionally see one standing the garden looking for goodies. Fortunately, I prefer the wildlife to perfect flowers (I say fortunately as it would be hard to actually prevent them). Give me the life here in the woods to being up in town any time - I consider myself very fortunate to live here and enjoy helping the wildlife as much as I can. Even the snakes are welcome (within prudent limits, of course). Thanks again.
I have had that same experience with the raccoons here where sometimes in late fall I will put out food and, for the 1st time since the spring feast began, I will find the food still sitting there untouched the next morning. It doesn't happen every year. Seems to depend on the availability of food in the forest in fall/winter. Other years I may find the food partially eaten the next morning. That is my cue to decrease the amount of food I put out in fall/winter, because even if they are still coming by to look for supplemental food, they will only have a small fraction of their usual summer appetites.
I believe you will see them again in spring, just as soon as mating begins in your area. Here it starts in Jan/Feb. I will be very surprised if your bunch doesn't show up in spring as hungry as ever. The kits arrive 9wks after mating. That's when the mom's diets kick into overdrive such that they eat like a horse and are almost never full. Around here when I sit out with them, the nursing mom's will often eat all they can hold and then lie down in the grass nearby to let some of that food settle before getting up to eat some more, a behavior not unlike that of humans at a large family feast such as Thanksgiving. (My father, grandfather, uncles, etc used to eat until they had to loosen their belt buckles. Then they would retire each to a different room to sleep it off a bit before coming back later for another go at that turkey, ham, etc, etc. I find so many similarities like this between animal and human behavior.)
They'll be back. It's almost impossible these days for raccoon moms to find adequate food on their own in the forest while nursing. Also, when you provide food for them at that time, it makes it possible for the moms to eat quickly and get back to their helpless infants much sooner than would be possible if they had to trek miles across the forest in search of enough food. By helping them get back to their little ones faster, you help to minimize the risk that some predator will find the kits before the mom can get back to protect them.
Ha ha - Cheryl you likening the racoons to your male relatives at big holiday dinners makes me laugh at my own memories of Thanksgiving and Christmases past. Good to hear from you and learn more about the critters.
LOL. So that holiday ritual was also practiced by your family, huh? At least the raccoons, being nursing females who only get to eat 1x/day, have a good excuse for their gluttonous behavior.
Who knows. Maybe if I continue feeling this good (since I've been on new meds), I'll be able to get out there some this coming spring/summer - which isn't as far away as it may seem, since it begins in Jan/Feb.
One night last week I heard a ruckus out back. I hadn't seen any raccoons out there in quite some time, not since the last time I posted about it here. Now suddenly I could hear raccoon sounds, strange emanations I'd never heard from them before. Angry, fighting sounds like a cross between warring cats and that trilling sound kits make. This was the 1st time I had heard the trilling vocalization outside the context of kits calling Mom, but now it was mixed with shrill screeches, both in the same 'word', like "trill-screech, screech-trill-screech, screech."
Fearing one had caught up with my cat(s), I ran to the door and turned on the light only to find Heidi out there on the patio looking fairly calm - except that she turned and left. I went back to what I was doing, but the sounds continued. They were directly behind the house for a while.
Finally, checking my mind's calendar and recalling Ruth's description of the 'matrimonial event' in raccoons as sounding a lot like a cat fight, I realized what this was. After all, Heidi usually shows up heavy with kits some time in Feb, and here it was the end of Jan. They were 'cavorting' out back behind my house. I had never heard any of this before. Wondering why Heidi would have brought this 'stuff' to my house for a change, I thought perhaps she was hungry.
I put out a bowl of kibble. The next morning the kibble was gone, and so was the noise.
Of course, I don't know her exact age, since she was already an adult when I met her. The best I can do is to make educated guesses about her age based on certain observations. I'll need to check, but I believe the Heidi chronicles has been running for some 7yrs now (give or take a yr). She was already a 'seasoned' adult when the story began. By that I mean that she was not a yearling by any means even then. Thus, at an absolute minimum she would have to be no less than the age of the Heidi Chronicles + 2 - and that's an extreme minimum because there is ample evidence that she was really older than 2 at the time.
For starters, when the story began her knowledge and wisdom were well beyond that of a 2yr old. Also, she had 5 kits that year. As we know, yearlings start out with 1 or maybe 2 kits. Two year olds probably have 1-3 on average. Only a seasoned adult in the prime of her child bearing years has 5. Nature seems to allot kits based on the ability of the mom to carry and raise them. New moms, even second year moms, are not entrusted with the lives and futures of 5 kits. Thus to say that Heidi was AT LEAST 2 at the start of the story is to voice an extreme minimum. In reality was surely older than 2.
Again, I need to double check the date on which the story began, but assuming that it has been running for 7yrs now, then Heidi could not possibly be less than 7+2 = 9 years old. That's not her age but rather her absolute minimum age. I had actually seen Heidi one to two years earlier. Some of you may recall the story of her in the backyard one sunny, summer morning around 10AM when she was eating seeds from under the bird feeder - in broad daylight. That was definitely her, and that would make her another year or two older than the Heidi story, since she was an adult at that time and not a yearling.
So, yes, I would say that Heidi must be at least 10 by now, and very likely older still. I had a few other occassions to observe her around my yard in the years leading up to the start of the story and going back to around 2002/2003. When looking at her from certain angles, I can also see that Heidi is quite old. She also looks old in comparison to the other, younger members of the group, and one can see a definite age progression just be going back to view some of the pictures and videos of her over the years. It is surprising that she has lived this long. The avg age for a wild raccoon is something like 6. She must be close to doubling that by now. She had done well, but then she's a very smart lady - and I like to think that we have helped a little by providing her with good nutrition and a steady food supply especially while raising her young.
Whew! This is one LONG thread. Clearly, I have been delinquent lately with thread maintenance, and I apologize for that. It's time now, past time even, for us to move to a new thread, a thread to officially open the 2012 season in Heidi Land. I have started the new thread here: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1248138/