Monday, January 11, 2010

Temperate Azure Chicken In Instant Rescue Caper!

If you've been visiting 'Paul' awhile you know that I've had ongoing problems with my next door neighbors.

Big sister, while usually a quiet type, occasionally goes prowling around her yard at night growling and screaming. She also has some kind of ongoing conflict with the pear tree back there, which has lead to several loud disagreements with same. Mom and Big Brother are harmless, if quiet, furtive and unwashed. Actually all of them are harmless and generally pleasant folks (unless you're a pear tree)and its not them specifically I've had the issue with; its the overflow animal problem.

At first it was just cats. Sis collected cats. White cats, when we first moved in, although as they had kittens that changed rapidly. Over the past ten or so years I've had these cats die in my compost bin, have kittens in my flower pots, barf on my front porch, climbing my trees, digging up my plants, and crapping everywhere they damn well pleased. Now, that last issue is just not normal cat behavior. I've had cats. Even the feral ones are usually cool enough to take a dump in an out-of-the-way place. These things were shitting on the hood of our pickup truck. They shit in the middle of the porch. They shit in the middle of the lawn. They built big volcanoes over their butt nuggets in the middle of the driveway. I have no idea what that was about. They shit in my potted plants, in the middle of the steps, just any damn place the urge struck. And these cats were host to some downright frightening intestinal fauna too. Huge squirming clods of it. This was not, as my grandson would say, beautiful OR propriate.

Now as time went on the neighbors' property became overgrown to the point that you could not make out the house behind all the underbrush. That was fine with me. It was also fine with the wildlife. I enjoyed the various native and migrant birds the thick brush and tall trees invited. In the summer evening three different types of bat flutter and chirp overhead, venturing out and returning in acrobatic loops to the immense Scoulers willow in their front yard. I even got a kick out of the big old boar raccoon that used to amble around in the evening, fat jiggling, in no hurry, like he owned the place.

Until he started living under my back deck.

And climbing up the lattice on the side of my house, right next to my bedroom window.

In the middle of the night.

Did you know that raccoons make noise? They do. They make lots of noises. Not just 'throwing your garbage all over the driveway' noises, or 'going through the toolbox in the garage and throwing sockets onto the floor' noises. They also make creepy yipping, growling, barking, screeching noises. At night. They have lots to say, turns out. All of it at night. Outside my bedroom window. I have no idea what its about, or why they're doing it; I didn't ask. They probably would have told me, though. I should have.

Turns out there were a lot of raccoons living over there. Lots and lots of them. Enough so that they were sending out reconnaissance squads to my place. They've blazed a permanent trail, bare of grass, across the lot and straight into my back yard...From there it goes around the garage, the shed, the raised beds, around the side of my house and right up onto my front porch. How do I know it's raccoons? I've seen them. Bold as fuck. And they leave footprints, too. They aren't big on wiping their feet. They come right up on my front porch, go right up onto the bench out there and look in my window. Oh look, the fat broad got new curtains.

Now, right from the beginning when we moved in, there were rats. Not in the house, mind; outside. Regular field rats; of course, this is farmland so you simply expect field rats. Not a big deal.

A couple of years later, the Norway rats showed up.

Well, OK, you know, Norways are a part of life. What are you going to do? Again, theres a lot of farms out this way, lots of manure ponds and grain silos and silage tips. The fact that you'd see them in broad daylight was a little worrisome; but I'm no rat expert either. I figured they came from the surrounding farms, and they'd gotten a little bold from smelling the presence of people all the time or something.

As time passed this all became so much a part of everyday life it went without notice.

Then last summer the animal population around here just exploded.

I had raccoons running around on my roof every night. I had raccoons going through my garbage, looking in my windows, barking and yipping from the top of my umbrella tree, dragging boxes around the back of our pickup truck and tracking dirty footprints all over my car. Cats everywhere, crapping in my garden, wandering up and down the sidewalks, yodelling from the top of the shed, squashed into little cat pizzas all over the road up and down the block.

And rats.

Oh yes.

...and rats.


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