Listen, just ’cause I drank one bottle of wine and sang a Christmas carol about my power tools does not mean we’re done talking about the holidays around here. Oh, no. I’ve got new tools to fawn over, Christmas pictures to share, and all kinds of nostalgia and big plans for the new year to talk about.
But I’m going to interrupt the slew of holiday-related posts for just a minute, to talk to you about a little fun-filled adventure that I like to call Saturday-Morning-with-a-Tequila-Hangover-and-a-Pissed-off-Raccoon-and-a-Pickup-on-Ice.
So, first of all, let’s address the big
elephant tequila bottle in the room, which is this: I am actually sober most of the time. But, you know, holidays. Plus a friend’s birthday thrown in there for good measure. And, yeah, so what happened was that during the Friday morning feeding I noticed my stalwart guardians of the barn– yes, these guys…
…who are usually rightupinmyface when I’m putting the hay out for them– wouldn’t come within ten yards of the barn. About the same time I noticed this, I heard a small scratching noise directly above my head. This prompted me to look up, at which point I noticed a
small bear, uh, raccoon staring back at me from the hay loft.
Then that raccoon defied all laws of physics and managed to wedge its considerable bulk into this little space next to the straw.
Turns out that I own a live traps that can catch all manner of animals– chipmunks, squirrels, opossums– but, none, apparently, that can catch a bear. So, most of my Friday was spent locating, setting up, baiting, and obsessively checking my brand new
bear raccoon trap. Since the varmint was up in the hayloft, I figured that would be the best spot to set the trap.
Anyone see any issues with this? No? Well now let’s picture it the next morning, post-tequila, like this…
I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised at this point. What hadn’t occurred to me, but became very quickly evident even through my hazy brain on Saturday morning, was that now I had thirty-pounds of pissed off raccoon in a cage. And I had to get him down a ladder.
Carrying a cage of angry raccoon down a ladder is infinitely more difficult when that little shit can stick his hand through the wire and grab on to you.*
This whole scenario was a lot for me to process after, you know, The Tequila. And I’ve got to be honest, I had to think long and hard about how to get this little guy down from the loft. And by “think” I mean “repeatedly climb up the ladder determined to pick up the cage, only to beat a hasty retreat when Ricky the Angry Raccoon blinked at me.” (Well, blinked and/or hissed. There was a lot of both.)
So, let’s pause at this point in our story for a Moment of Truth. Here it is: A very large part of me—the part that didn’t want to have any of my fingers forcibly removed by what appeared to be an angry, hissing, overstuffed teddy bear—really just wished I could rely on some big bearded dude to take care of this for me while I went back inside and climbed under the covers. On a daily basis, there are zero minutes in which I have a problem with being single or doing things on my own. Clearly. But every once in a while there are moments, like this one, where I’d play the “girl card” and let a man deal with tough stuff if I could.
And I would laugh it off, or tell myself it’s okay to let someone else do this one thing, because Hey! Look at all this other stuff I do! Except this isn’t something I can’t do. It’s not something I’m physically incapable of doing without help. It’s something I don’t want to do. It’s something I’m a little bit afraid to do. As much as I don’t like to admit it, even to myself, I have these moments.
I have these moments, and in them I do dig deep for a little bit of courage or ingenuity. I do tell myself that this is what I signed up for when I took on this farm on my own, and to put on my big-girl Carhartts and get the job done. And I believe those things. They sound good when I’m saying them to myself, and they sound good when telling the story. But I also know that a lot of what motivates me to do-the-thing-that-I-don’t-want-to-do is simply that it needs to be done, and there is no one else there to do it.
So if you’re ever wondering why—despite my undying love for boys, and beards, and flannel—I haven’t gone out and found a big strong dude to live with me on the farm in the last couple of years, this is it. Because sometimes I am only strong by default, not by choice. And it’s not in my nature to accept that. One day I might invite someone along on this adventure of mine, but not until I’m sure that I can walk the path on my own.
And in the meantime, I used earplugs.
Yes. Once I resigned myself to the fact that a bearded man in flannel was not, in fact, going to materialize miraculously on the farm to help, earplugs were the thing that allowed me haul Ricky the Angry Raccoon down the ladder and into the truck by myself. Well, earplugs and a sheet. Because when you can’t hear the angry hissing, or see the claws reaching out to get you, then it’s actually just another thing to haul down the ladder, and lord knows I do plenty of that every day.
It’s perfectly legal to relocate wildlife where I live, provided you don’t move it into another county. So I loaded Ricky up and hauled him to a large wildlife preserve that’s some miles away from the farm. Getting him there and letting him out was rather uneventful…it was just a few hours into the morning, the ground was covered with snow, the sun was shining. And I was still in my pajama pants and a hoodie, because this whole adventure was supposed to take, like, fifteen minutes, and then I was going to crawl back under the covers.
But the problem with a beautiful morning where the snow is on the grown and the sun is shining is, well, the snow starts to melt. Not all the way, just enough to get packed into a two-inch thick sheet of ice covering the entire uphill driveway out of the parking lot of the preserve. Guess what doesn’t do well on a two-inch thick sheet of ice going uphill? My truck, apparently.
This is when you know, without a doubt, that you are being smited by the gods of Tequila.
I spun my tires in various ways/directions for a good fifteen minutes and then this was the point I finally called for help. My dad was all, “take whatever you’ve got in the back of your truck and stick it under your tires to help get some traction, and keep a couple of bags of kitty litter in the back for next time.”
I tried the rubber floor mats.
I tried a piece of plywood arranged under both tires.
And then I got the brilliant idea to try the piece of plywood long-ways under the tire that was spinning the most.
Yep. My truck literally launched that thing out from under the tire with such force that it rocketed across thirty feet of snow and ended up in a cornfield.
The good news about all of this is that I now know without a shadow of a doubt that I built a raccoon-proof chicken coop. And I also know that I need to keep kitty litter and emergency tire chains in the back of the truck. Plus, uh, lay off the tequila.
It seems that 2013 wasn’t going to let me go without teaching me just a few more lessons about life, trucks, and working the farm. And I’m certainly grateful for that.
*If you’re wondering why, at this point, I didn’t just dispose of the raccoon, I’ll say this. I don’t take life lightly. I don’t kill a wild animal that is just doing what it does– looking for a warm place to sleep and something to eat on a cold night. I don’t kill something that isn’t an immediate threat to me or mine, and because I built a strong coop, he wasn’t. And I certainly don’t kill a creature who is trapped and frightened because it would be easier.