Aug 262012

LittleBrownBearAs a very small girl, I loved for my parents to read from the now out-of-print book Little Brown Bear Goes To School. A  simplistic story about animals going on a picnic, the book featured Miss Ringy Raccoon as the prim and proper teacher. Despite loving this book, I don’t love animals big or small, and tend to run the other direction when faced with an animal encounter.

Two years ago Mother’s Day, my husband awakened me and said. “Honey, there’s more than one mother on the property today.”

At the kitchen window, we saw Mother Groundhog, Father Groundhog, and four little Baby Groundhogs. (Apparently Mrs. Groundhog is the varmint version of “Octomom” because groundhogs don’t usually have quadruplets, but are more prone to twins. History was made beneath our yard barn.)

We called in a company that specializes in critter removal, and one by one, trap by trap, the groundhog family was moved to a “Groundhog Witness Protection Program” in Kentucky. Animals have to be removed far from home or they will come back.

I had issues about separating the Baby Groundhogs from Mama, but the critter company swore they would all be kept together. (And he has a big bridge in Brooklyn to sell me also. In my imagination, I pictured the critter truck driving three houses down and letting all 6 critters out, but that’s just my suspicious nature.)

Friday we returned home from our mini-vacation and about 9 p.m. during Antiques Roadshow, I heard loud noises above the master bedroom closet.

Then the scurrying moved. Fast and furious and loud. Around the house above Son’s bedroom, my office, main bathroom. Again Saturday night and Sunday night. Same time. Same station. Same raccoon channel.

For three evenings I have been held hostage on that end of the house, broom in hand, tapping on the ceiling wherever the offending beast makes his presence known. My husband told me to stop banging on the ceiling for fear of making holest, so in following the letter of the law, I simply began banging on the walls. (Scared the hell out of the cats.)

Why do things like this have to happen after 5 p.m. on Friday? Thank you, Mr. Murphy and your stupid, predictable law.

With the help of a friend who is a home inspector I secured a varmint catcher who came on Tuesday afternoon.

Said varmint catcher went up into the attic and came down soon with the verdict that there was at least one varmint, most likely a raccoon, spending his/her evenings with us. The debris left indicated that it had merely been a short visit.

The Varmint Roper found two holes in the soffit on either end of the house and will repair them after Said Varmint is captured. Then he set a trap (with cat food as bait) on the roof of the house near one of the holes.

He educated us about raccoons – this is their mating season – if he catches a female, he will re-bait the trap, because he said where there’s a female, there will be a male. (Ever the love story.) Baby raccoons don’t generally arrive for another month, so if the Beast is a she, she’s probably just scouting a new home. The Varmint Roper also said raccoons have a four to five mile range, so she may have several “hotels” she travels between.

(During the writing of his article I asked my spouse how to spell “varmint” and I happened to mention that I hoped I would be able to take a picture of the creature trapped in his cage. He said, “That would be good. Then you can at least document that you aren’t just a crazy middle-aged woman who thinks she has animals in her attic.”)

So now we wait. The trap is on the roof and we are vigilant and waiting. A night has passed and all was quiet on the attic front. My broom stands in the corner near the bed. Has the varmint moved on to another location? Did the smell of the human up in the attic drive her away? Is she on spring break in Daytona? Stay tuned.

March 15th —  The house has been unbearably quiet for nearly 24 hours since we drove the College Boy to the airport in Louisville after his spring break visit with us. We had such a nice time and we are seeing a growing maturity in him that is delightful. And he’s just fun to be around.

But the house may not be quiet for long.

The Critter Roper still has not caught the Varmint living in our attic. And the sneaky animal hasn’t been around for a few days. Or nights.

DSC00815So the Roper set a little trap. He “duct-taped” (duct tape is the Handyman’s friend) the suspected opening in the eaves of our house, knowing that Yon Varmint would probably rip right through the tape. Right now we don’t know if the beast is in or out, and why he isn’t taking advantage of the tasty treats set out before him (and right on into the trap on the roof?)

I am ready for this evening. I have my long handled broom ready to tap on the ceiling. (What this does I’m not really sure, but it makes me feel better.) Bring it on, four paws!

March 17th —  As I write this, my new friend J, the Critter Roper, is back on our roof. The Beast snuck into the trap, ate the cat food, and dragged the can across the roof. Now the Varmint has a new hole in another part of of the soffit. That Varmint really, really wants to get inside my attic.

The Roper can’t figure it out. He says, “This is my most sensitive trap.”

I’m not nearly as fond of this house as the Varmint is. The house is too big for us now and the yard requires too much maintenance. Air hockey, foos ball, and poor white trash above-ground pool have gone unused since Son went to college. We might give the Varmint a good deal if we had not just refinanced.

I really don’t want to sound elitist but we really don’t want the Varmint or his family here. We are hoping he/she doesn’t yet have a family, and can move on to a Singles Pad for raccoons. I’m starting to think this isn’t very funny. Stay tuned.

March 19th —

DSC00825About 1 a.m. my  husband woke me up because he heard a terrible racket on the roof. Sounded like Santa Claus had landed the sleigh with a double team of obese reindeer.

Sure enough, when we went outside and husband shined his Mag-lite up on the roof, two beady, yellow eyes stared back.

DSC00828As you can see, all the racket was made by this young raccoon, who looks adorable and cute (but in your attic, not mine). We are happy to see him go.I named the Varmint “Scott Farkas” after the yellow-eyed boy in “A Christmas Story”. When the Critter Roper came today, we learned that the raccoon is male and so the name will stick. “Scott Farkas” has been relocated to a Witness Protection program, probably somewhere in Kentucky.

The Critter Roper assures us that it is a long way away and that the Beast won’t be back.

However, there’s a catch. There may be others.

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