Raccoon Number Eight

As mentioned in an earlier post, I suspected that my raccoon trapping days were at an end for this year. I had been trapping raccoons in our barn to prevent them from eating our chickens, barn cats, and cat food. And although Number Eight had eluded me for some time, I was determined to get that one, too. Then one day I came to the realization that perhaps I wasn’t having any luck in trapping Number Eight because the critter might not be a raccoon. Maybe we were actually attracting one of our neighborhood foxes with the bait.

When I began to suspect that the fox was our Number Eight, I set up a test. I put out kibble for the cats in our sheep barn and blocked the doorways. If it was a raccoon, it would find its way in through the open window. But if Number Eight was actually the fox, it wouldn’t be able to get in to eat the kibble. Undisturbed cat food meant that I had been trapping the fox.

Sure enough, after three days of the dry cat food test, it became clear that we had a visiting fox. I was happy to allow the fox free rein of our property as long as it didn’t eat our chickens, which were safe behind tall cyclone fencing. After I renamed Number Eight (to Mr. Fox), I was happy to move my attention along to other things. My raccoon trapping days had obviously come to an end for 2015.

In retrospect, I think I may have been a bit hasty in hanging up my live trap. Today was a hot and humid day, and all of the ewes were hanging out under the big oak tree that shades them from the hot sun. As my teen helper, Seth, and I finished up our work there, he directed my attention up into the branches of the oak tree. There about twenty or thirty feet off the ground in a crotch of the tree was a little bundle of fur. It was hard to tell exactly what it was, but I had my suspicions. As I called out and asked it to turn around so that we could see its face (with Seth laughing all the while that I was again talking to the animals), the little bundle shifted and suddenly there was a little masked face peering down at me! Aha! Here was the true Raccoon Number Eight!

Number Eight in the midst of our "conversation" about trapping and life in the Timber

Number Eight in the midst of our “conversation” about trapping and life in the Timber

New Number Eight and I had a bit of a talk (much to Seth’s delight). I explained the situation to this rascal. I told him that if he hung out in the Timber with the sheep, he would be okay. I explained that there were nuts, fruits, seeds, and various small critters out in those woods, so he wouldn’t go hungry. I also kept fresh water out there for the sheep that he was welcome to use for drinking and washing. I also cautioned that if he came into either of our barns, I would trap him and move him far away from everything he holds dear. I told him that if he valued his freedom, he should stay out in the Timber and not come close to our buildings. Then I bid him farewell and Seth and I went back to the house.

I don’t know whether I made any impression on this young raccoon. Number Eight seemed to listen to everything I had to say. Yet I somehow got the feeling that he has his own agenda. I’m not so sure that he won’t be tempted to check out the possibilities of a raccoon bed & breakfast in our barn. Based on that, it might be too early to hang up the live trap just yet. I think it might be a better idea to check the cat food daily and look around to be sure that everything is in its place. The one sure sign of a resident raccoon is that they rearrange all of our stuff to their own liking — usually scattered all over the floor. I think I’ll just keep an eye on things for a while to see whether the New Number Eight keeps up his side of our bargain.

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