VIOLA - Thingsare living in my house uninvited. Things with claws that scrape in the gutter as they walk along my roof and crawl up the inside of my walls. Téte barks at them all night in her deep voice, and Finnegan joins in with his high-pitched accompaniment. Only Ruben doesn’t seem to care.
I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. I want my old life back, where I go upstairs to my quiet bedroom, where the windows are open and the only sound I hear is the water flowing in the creek.
After one particular night of intense barking, with the cats screeching outside and me standing on top of my mattress, futilely yelling out the skylight, “Go away, get out of my yard, you dirty scoundrels,” I was exhausted. In the morning, I found my cactus on the deck rail overturned, flowerpots pushed off and broken, and my gorgeous green succulents uprooted and lying lifeless on the ground.
Night after miserable night, I baited live traps with smelly canned cat food, only to find them empty in the morning. My bags of birdseed, grass seed, and peanuts in the shell would be strewn about the basement with piles of poo dropped among them. The lid on the metal garbage can that contains the dogs' food would be cast aside like a child’s Frisbee, and the dog food devoured.
I got mad and I tried to get smart.
I closed the outside metal doggie door, with apologies to my cats and dogs. I placed wooden two-by-fours on top of the garbage can where I store the dog food, and a can of paint on top of the one that holds the cat food. I set the live trap strategically between the two cans. I. Was. Ready.
That evening, I fell into a deep sleep with images of raccoons, opossums, rats, and weasels dancing through my head—only to awaken to more destruction. The two-by-fours and paint can had been tossed aside as though they were light as marshmallows.
But finally, a big ol’ raccoon was in the trap. Success!
I thought my troubles were over, but the next night the dogs were barking again while critters clamored around my basement, helping themselves to anything edible.
Then one day Dane was here and went to the basement to get food for the dogs. He came running back up into the house.
“There’s a huge raccoon eating the cat food down there!”
“Did you shut the door?”
“Yes! We’ve got him now. I’ll go set the trap.”
The next day, I walked out my front door and around to the back of my house, sure that I’d finally have the troublemaker locked in the trap. Instead, I found a hole in my basement wall about the size of a large raccoon, with yellow insulation strewn about. That coon had dug right through the wall where it’s been weakened by a dripping faucet.
I boarded up the hole with wood planks and large rocks. The next morning the basement again looked like the coon had had an all-night party—but the trap was untouched.
Dane to the rescue! He baited the trap with canned cat food, peanut butter, and raisins, a smorgasbord of odors and delicacies no good coon could pass up. Next morning, bingo, another large raccoon caught!
Over the next two weeks, we trapped two more raccoons. I also had the house trimmed three feet high with corrugated steel, including the whole backside of the house—no more holes in the wall.
I’d like to say the coons are gone, but they’re not. Mr. Bigfoot is still lurking, destroying, and causing us sleepless nights. He’s managed to trip the trap almost nightly after devouring tuna, a few cans of cat food, and mounds of peanut butter.
One night we tried a new and improved trap with a better spring. When I went out in the morning, there was my sweet cat, Monkey Butt, scolding me from inside the trap.
Now, Dane meant business. He brought over six gigantic cement blocks and placed them outside the doggy door, a quarter inch away, to keep the raccoon from getting in. Next, he placed the trap in front of the blocks and brought some heavy boards and beams and other paraphernalia to stabilize it so the beast couldn’t knock it over. Once the trap was loaded with smelly tuna, Dane drove home and I went to bed. Dane assured me he’d come and get Bigfoot in the morning and take him for the ride of his life, releasing him somewhere in Timbuktu.
I thought, “Good riddance, Mr. Bigfoot,” as I drifted off to sleep.
In the morning, I phoned Dane with the news: there was no one in the trap. The ton of bricks hadn't been moved, but the metal on the doggy door had been peeled back and the door opened about eight inches high—and the basement was a total shambles.
Score another few points for Bigfoot, zero for us.
To be continued in the July 25 edition of the Independent-Scout.