May, 2014: Life gets messy and 7owm9c##^!bbb;…

Ah, Spring…when a young homeowner’s fancy turns to thoughts of…destroying all the pests that try to invade his house all day long from every direction! (Panting, wheezing)

The local woodland creatures seem to find our home an immense source of amusement. I found large piles of poop on our deck recently, but they were too big for our cat. Puzzled, I finally put two and three together (and got 4!) when I scared a raccoon off the deck several nights later. Apparently, he had been eating the cat’s food. He must have been REALLY hungry to go that far. We don’t spend any more money on our cat than absolutely necessary; his food is bottom of the line. Maybe the ‘coon thought he’d rather have bad food than catch something. “I know a place where you can eat dirt cheap, but who wants to eat dirt?” Woodland creatures, that’s who.

Our cat disappeared for 4 days. When he returned, he had a tuft of fur missing from behind each ear, and a cut on one ear. He didn’t say where he’d been. I’ve told him to quit clubbing and get a new hobby, like killing mice. We have used traps to kill four of them in the last few weeks. I have even resorted to the more exotic traps: the disk with a hole in the side that rotates shut when the mice go for the bait inside; and the half-pipe, that slams shut on the mouse after it sticks to the glue paper. Really. Neither has been productive, but at least they were cheap, I keep telling myself. Like dirt.

While the cat was gone, a pair of wrens built a nest in our garage/basement, and hatched at least three young ones. They laid, hatched, and learned to fly in the time the cat was AWOL. They were all grown and gone by the time he got back. I think God was involved in the timing, and enjoyed it.

After the cat returned, the birds left, the mice were gone, and the ‘coon found other amusement, a snake decided to join our little menagerie. I found him in our garage/basement among the toy weapons, helmets, and sports equipment my sons play with almost daily. He backed up immediately when he saw me, and I spent the next twenty minutes searching the tubs, moving the stuff, and telling my sons to get on shoes and stay out until I was sure it was safe.

Now, I like to think of myself as a reasonably brave, somewhat tough guy…kinda sorta, but I had no idea what I would do to kill this snake. My only thought was to chop him with a hoe on the concrete floor, but God had other ideas. The snake had backed himself behind a massively heavy sheet of something or other, amongst some smaller pieces of the very heavy substance. Once I knew he was there, I blocked him in, lifted a smaller piece, and dropped it on him. I wiggled the gigantic shard back and forth, and severed him into three pieces. Brilliant! But not my genius; God gets all the credit for the perfect snake trap. And I am grateful.

My sons all wanted to play with the snake carcass. They poked it, stroked it, mashed it, and began to pull it apart. Then we had to go in and wash up for dinner. We didn’t eat snake, in case you were wondering. But we did get a good look at the maggots that ate the carcass the next day before breakfast. Then we threw it away.

With all the other creatures going nuts, I should have expected the ants to join in. They have commandeered one of our several laundry lines strung from trees in our front yard. Now this line connects two trees, and other lines are connected to these lines, but the ants have spoken: only the one line is worthy of their tourism. They form convoys to travel from the Big tree to the Short tree, laundry or not, and many have found themselves suddenly flung into oblivion, crushed by fingers, or furtively spirited away in a laundry basket with the clothes they were traveling over in their pilgrimage to the Short tree. Makes me wonder if they know something about that tree that I don’t…Hm. Nah.

And that’s just the animals. The plants are sending out sorties and missions to populate and conquer in every area they can find dirt. Thankfully, my riding mower and weedtrimmer are in good working order, although my pushmower is proving difficult to keep running. I have even rigged my own choke (don’t tell the manufacturer) after the hair-thin metal coil controlling it broke (Ahem! Outdoor power tools should not be dependent on anything that small!), but no dice yet.

We have asparagus and lettuce and sunflowers and peach trees coming up, a pleasant surprise beyond our wildest hopes after the chickens invaded accidentally and tore up all the raised garden beds looking for grubs. But at least they lay eggs. I even saw one nearly snatch a red wasp out of the air, but it got away. More’s the pity.

Our berry patch has spread, again surprising us, and the new plants seem to be going along with all the growth. I encourage you to go get some plants and see what you can grow. Use plenty of water and fertilizer, but stay away from raccoon poop or all your plants will smell like cat foo88sp-‘]#^%

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