Author: Ramos, Jean

Homeland Security

If you have ever had your property vandalized, I think you will sympathize with me. Three months ago we had our front yard re-landscaped with beautiful lush green sod. We went to the added expense of having a sprinkling system installed and decided to hire a gardener to maintain the yard so that we could be away for Bluegrass Festivals and Camp-outs and not worry about the grass dying or having an un-mowed lawn signaling to passersby that we are away from home.

Our plan worked out well for the month of May but in June we woke one morning to find holes dug all over in our new lawn. Little clumps of sod were scattered all around under the apricot tree that shades our front yard. I was irate to say the least! I went about trying to press the divots back into the holes in hopes that the bare spots would fill back in. A few days later I found more holes and the culprits even rolled back the edge of the sod like a carpet in some places. That night I slept on the couch near the front window to see if I could catch the perpetrators ?red handed.? No show! No sleep either for that matter.

My husband thought it would be a good idea to buy a surveillance camera and set it up to catch the vandals in the act, we won?t even talk about the cost! We got it home and found out that the memory chips are not included with the camera, more expense is incurred. He set the camera up and sure enough, there were three bandits caught in the act, they knew they were doing wrong because they were wearing masks! Why else would you hide your face? We decided not to call the police but to take the law into our own hands after all it was just malicious mischief. We nicknamed our nocturnal visitors, Bubba, Chub and Stub. Stub has an identifying mark, we could pick him out in a line-up if it comes down to that.

The next night, we lay in wait for them, and sure enough, they showed up again, We surprised them with 500 Watts of bright lights, they took off on the run and the last thing we saw was the south end of Stub going over the neighbor?s fence. The light was one of those motion detector types that comes on when there is movement in the yard. After a few nights it didn?t scare them anymore, it just made it easier for them to see to do their dirty little deeds.

I?ve always thought raccoons were cute, but they have quickly lost their appeal. They can do a lot of damage in a short time. We decided it was time to declare war on Bubba, Chub and Stub, the ringleader with the cropped off tail. (Somebody probably needed a decoration for the antenna on their 1955 Chevrolet).

I headed to the garden center and bought some spray that is supposed to smell like the urine of a natural predator to raccoons, two cans @ $15 per can. It didn?t slow them down for a moment. Next we decided to buy a trap to catch them, one trap @ $30, two cans of Fancy Feast Cat Food for bait, another couple bucks. The next morning, the surveillance camera showed them walking right past the trap without a sniff or a glance. Are you keeping score? So far it?s Raccoons 8, Ramos? 0. I went online to research raccoon repellents and decided to buy some pepper powder that is supposed to be an irritant should they get it on their feet or mouth. Two cans @ $16 per can. The ?enemy? seemed to think it was Essence of Emeril, they liked the extra seasoning on their food, BAM! The raccoons are still racking up the points, Ramos? are going deeper in the hole, figuratively speaking.

It?s back to the garden center, and I bought a thing called a Scarecrow, about $60, you hook a hose up to it, and when a sensor picks up any movement in the yard it shoots out a jet of water which fans out over half the yard. My husband got sprayed three times in the set up phase of the Scarecrow. I?ve lost track of the score now but I think it?s about 12-0. The raccoons didn?t like the water jet but they set it off several times each night until they found a spot where the water couldn?t reach them and they would dig there. I headed back out to buy another Scarecrow for the other side of the yard.

Now little toadstools are coming up around the tree from too much watering. We had to get up early in the morning to shut everything off so kids on their way to school or other folks walking by wouldn?t get doused. We forewarned the gardener. So now the husband decided to put the Scarecrows on a timer to come on at 10:00 PM and go off at 6:00 AM. He bought one timer for each Scarecrow. Everything in our arsenal is working pretty well now unless we get a good wind that stirs the bushes and tree branches, then we have water spraying and lights flashing and a camera taking pictures of an empty animal trap with ants crawling in the cat food bait and a stubbed tail raccoon thumbing his little nose at us.

I don?t know any bluegrass songs having to do with raccoons, but there have been songs written about other wily animals, songs like ?Old Slew Foot,? ?Rabbit in a Log,? ?Mysterious Fox of Fox Hollow,?or ?Groundhog Rootin? in my Backyard.? Well there isn?t too much bluegrass content here, I?ve been pretty busy in the war zone. If nothing else, I?ve given someone some fodder for a potential Bluegrass song.

If anyone out there in CBA land has some ideas on how to deal with the varmints, please let me know, our defense budget is now surpassing that of the landscaping costs. Homeland Security comes with a price.
Posted:  8/23/2009

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