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Raccoon Invasion

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From the American Heritage Dictionary: vermin n., pl. vermin 1. Any of various small animals or insects that are destructive, annoying, or injurious to health, as cockroaches or rats.

Contrary to a Disney version, there’s also the saying, “nature red, in tooth and claw” hinting at a darker side, at least from the human view. Although I do think a gazelle on the African Savannah being pursued by lions might agree with the tooth and claw part.

I had my first encounter with raccoons recently – the first time in 18 years living at Chez Nous Farm. Accustomed to leaving various doors open in summer, I awoke to three juvenile individuals wreaking havoc on the breezeway early one morning. Though quite traumatizing them with a good deal of yelling and the nearest broom I could grab, I knew they’d be back and that the flower garden and two greenhouses (especially those precious raspberries!) were all at risk of significant damage.

Forthwith, I learned how to repair and operate live traps thanks to help from my more experienced next-door neighbor. And once captured, knowing I would have an unpleasant chore to do, I borrowed a .22 rifle from my contractor. Right off, one of the three coons was trapped and dispatched, and the trap has since been untouched. This might not be the end of the story yet…

One of the harsh realities of a farm is that death is not an uncommon visitor, and this ‘ole pioneer woman has steeled her nerves to do whatever must be done. I have buried horses, dogs, cats, chickens, and goats. Nonetheless, I do have a squeamish side, and a tender spot too, having rescued certain spiders or barn swallows fallen from the nest…

Lastly, any conscientious person who eats meat must morally reconcile oneself with the death of an animal. My view has been the lesser of two evils: unlike factory-farmed animals who lived horrendous lives if that could be called life – the ones raised locally with species-appropriate diets, fresh air and water, and good pasture – had the best life they could get until the last day.

Caroline McColloch
Chez Nous Farm

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