Raccoons and Other Things

As far as small varmints go, we see mostly possums and armadillos, particularly in the back yard.  There are lots of other varmints around, we just don't see them frequently.  Raccoons live in this area but we don't hardly see them at all.  We had a happy family of raccoons living in our attic when we lived in Simonton and we worked hard to encourage them to find other lodging without the use of poisons or harsh tactics.  This morning I went out to feed the animals and found a young raccoon dead in the ponies' water trough.  We have been very long without much rain, despite the .2 inches we got yesterday evening, and all the animals are working hard to find water.  I'm sure this little guy thought he could get out of the water trough or he wouldn't have decided to jump in for a drink.

Our house is built on pier and beam with a fair sized crawl space underneath.  When we moved in there was nothing to keep all manor or varmints out from under the house.  We were most concerned about skunks making a home under ours.  They are obviously stinky but they also carry rabies and since we live in rabies central for this county it is even more of a concern.  We have dog(s) and cat(s) and we don't want to provide an easy home for things that could do them harm.  We solved the problem by putting a stack of cement blocks into the access points around the house.  This allows air movement and also allows us to get under there if needs be without having to tear down a more permanent structure.  It works well to keep the skunks and possums and raccoons out, not so well for the snakes.  We still see them moving into and out of the crawl space but we are willing to live with that.  They may be poisonous or not but they don't smell like a skunk and wouldn't smell much at all if they were to die under there.

We have a large live oak in our back yard and surrounding it is a large fern garden.  It looks wonderful and the dog loves to play "jungle hunter"  by running around in the ferns looking for whatever a hunter dog looks for.  It's also a happy place for snakes which is why the whole "jungle hunter" thing makes me slightly nervous.  Sadie has already been bitten once by a poisonous snake but hopefully has figured out these snakes are a bad thing since she hasn't been bitten since.  They are mostly copperheads, by they way, not the water moccasins and coral snakes we had in Simonton.  We also have rattlesnakes here although we've never seen one.  One of the goats was bitten several years ago and the vet decided it was rattlesnake based on how the bite looked and how the goat's reaction to the bite progressed.  I'm not sure if he was right or not but it goes a long way towards explaining our NO BARE FEET rule.

I am afraid we have lost one of our cats.  We found Keeper on our doorstep the day we moved in here 8 years ago.  She was a tiny kitten that grew into a beautiful long haired calico cat.  She drove our other cats crazy when she was a kitten but what goes around comes around.  She was morally outraged when we got two new kittens several years ago.  She decided she was happier staying outside most of the time and letting the kittens have the inside territory.  None of the cats have been willing to come inside since crazy Sadie joined our family back in February.  Ron sits out on the porch with the cats each day while they eat.  They love him and he loves them.  Unfortunately we haven't seen Keeper in nearly a week now.  I prefer to believe she is living the high life with one of our neighbors.