Because we operated a small family farm with livestock as well as sprawling gardens, raccoons were and still are the bane of our existence. This phrase is probably a cliché but I simply cannot force myself to change the wording; it describes these pests perfectly. Their exploits are so extraordinary, that a city dweller might think I am exaggerating. However, every word is the unvarnished truth.
An abbreviated mischief list:
- We removed one small pane of glass in a window six feet above the ground to help ventilate our meat-bird barn. One morning we discovered 50 chicks missing with only a few feathers left. Only raccoons, with their sharp claws can climb that high and carry off chickens.
- Raccoons love to pull down corn stalks, destroying the entire plant, to eat only the largest, sweetest corn cob.
- At night, as raccoons gather to celebrate their corn feast, they make a loud, piercing sound that can only be described as a cross between a crying human infant and a screeching cat.
- These thieves steal eggs, terrorizing the hens who make such a racket that one of the male members of our family runs out with a gun, no matter what the hour.
- They are garbage specialists, opening lids, toppling garbage cans that should protect the green garbage bags from them. Raccoons are not content to simply eat the food waste, they delight in dragging trash all over the shed.
- Mother raccoons hide their young in hay barns. Accidentally stumble upon her and she turns vicious. One huge, enraged mama raccoon chased one of our sons out of the barn, causing him to scream,
"It's a bear. There's a huge bear in the hay barn coming after me!"
He was terrified.
- One afternoon, our wonderful guard dog chased three raccoons up a hydro pole. One blew the transformer, electrocuting himself, as he tried to climb down later that night. He died instantly and cut off our electricity. We need power to even use water or flush the toilet because we run our own pumps in three separate wells.
The electrical crew, who had arrived in a long cherry picker, argued whether they really wanted to go up and rescue the remaining two raccoons.
"Do you want to go up there George?"
"Who me? No way. Why don't you do it Harry?"
They turned to me and stated,
"Tell you what. We'll turn your power on and just come back tomorrow after they blow the transformer again."
David, my son, decided to simply open his upstairs bedroom window, aim carefully and take the raccoons out of their misery. The power stayed on.
The only good thing I can say about raccoons is that they did clean our property as they scoured the yard every night for any tidbits of food dropped by our kids.