The Bear, the Racoon, and the Skunk

Have you ever made a plan to do something, and then when the time comes you completely disregard everything you planned and went in a completely different direction? Yeah, me neither.

Which is why it was such a surprise when I started writing this post. I mean I am the most on-point, on-task, single-minded person I know (and if you believe that I have some beautiful land in sunny, swampy Florida I’d like to sell ya!). But alas, for whatever reason my attention went in this direction and because I am so single-minded I could not deviate.

Living a rural life

If you have read my about page, you may remember that I live in Cushing, Minnesota. Cushing is a small town located between two slightly larger towns, which are between larger towns over 25 minutes away in either direction. We rent our home, which is slightly odd as we also own homes that we rent out to others, and have lived here for the past ten years. We absolutely love it here. Our landlords are great, our nearest neighbors are a mile away or more in either direction, and Camp Ripley is right across the road from us which means… lots of wildlife.

We have seen deer, turkeys, muskrats, coyotes, wolves, skunks, raccoons, bear and I’m pretty positive I’m missing some, but you get the picture. While most of them do not come close to the house; over the years a few in fact have. The bears especially as they have figured out there’s some good eating around here. A few years back there was one particular bear who knew the garbage route. Our pick-up was on Wednesday, so every Friday or Saturday he would show up and start ravaging through our garbage can.

Come Monday or Tuesday he would disappear and while we thought it was quite odd, we didn’t really put much thought in to it. Until the day we were talking to a DNR friend who shared the bear moved on over about 5 miles from us and raided garbage cans during the week. Funny thing was he then disappeared over the weekends. I still am trying to figure out if he had visitation rights on the weekend with his cubs and that’s why he was at our house, or if he really was just that smart.

Coyotes are quite the nuisance, and when they start yipping and shrieking at 11:30 at night, it is an eerie sound. They do come close to the house sometimes and so my husband devised a plan. He brought up some old bottle rockets he had from years past and starts shooting them off when the coyotes are around. It’s very effective and does exactly what he wants it to do – scare them away.

‘Hubby’

In fact, it was so effective that one night when there was a bear attempting to steal our garbage, he started shooting off bottle rockets and at 2:30 in the morning my daughter and he were running around the yard in their pajamas attempting to put out all the little fires he started in the long grass. My poor daughter had scratches and cuts all over her arms and legs from the thorns.

Where was I you ask? Well that was about the time I was undergoing chemo and the thought of running around the yard in the middle of the night was definitely NOT on my radar. As soon as I realized the house wasn’t going to burn down (it was nowhere near the house actually) I went back to bed. My thought was “idiot”.

You would think we would learn, wait a minute, why the heck am I saying “we”? You would think he would learn his lesson but apparently not. Yeah, can you believe it? There’s more!!

Learning a Lesson

Last summer we had a problem with all of the cat food disappearing. We have two outdoor cats, that my husband believes need to be fed otherwise they are going to starve to death. Even though we supposedly took the kittens so that they would become mousers. Hint – why would a cat go chase mice and eat them when they can just go into the cat condo (yes, you read that right – a cat condo…two stories, heat, air conditioning, only thing missing is a toilet) where dinner is waiting… that’s right. They don’t. And thus we have two very chubby kitties.

At the same time my dog Harley, was acting really weird over by the cat condo. Running from shed to shed, trying to get underneath them, trying to climb trees, he was definitely letting us know there was something out there. Hubby finally decided that we needed to go get a live trap, and when he got home he read up on how to capture raccoons. Amazingly you can use cat food! Who would have thunk?

Fast forward to about 3:00 a.m. and all of a sudden we hear a tremendous racket out by the cat condo. Well, I did anyway. Hubby, whose idea this was to get the live trap, slept through it all. As it was dark, and I couldn’t really see anything and hubby was fast asleep, I too returned to my warm, snuggly bed and drifted back off to dream land.

Harley

Come morning there was… yep! A raccoon in the cage and that poor little guy/gal had broken the cage attempting to dig its way out. Hubby, feeling sorry for the little guy/gal, decided he was going to take the raccoon and re-home him. Yes, you read that right. He drove the raccoon about six miles directly west from our house and let him go. Not like he would come back or anything right? I mean after all, I can’t think of a single animal who would turn away free food, free water, and free lodging.

Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden Harley started acting like something was living out by the cat condo again. But then I realized it probably was not the raccoon as Harley, and the other dogs I dog sit for, started smelling realllllyyy bad. Like when you smell a dead skunk on the road bad. Which in a way was a good thing for hubby, because if it had been a raccoon he never would have lived that one down.

I started to get really tired of the dog smelling like skunk, and so did my Search and Rescue Unit, and well anyone who came near Harley as they all said “EWWWW – what is that smell?”. I insisted hubby get rid of the skunk and the next thing I know, the live trap has been resurrected and set. Wanna take a bet as to what he used to bait it? Yep – cat food. (I’m starting to think those two are more of a hindrance than a help.)

Next morning there sits Pepe Le Pew trapped – fantastic! Now maybe the dog won’t smell anymore.

However, there is now a bigger problem. Wanna take a guess?

Yes, that’s right. How do you remove a live skunk from a live trap without getting sprayed?

Don’t worry, their won’t be a test because honestly I don’t know because what we tried DID NOT WORK.

First I attempted to get close enough that I could get a blanket over the skunk and trap. Huge fail. Luckily, I was far enough back, and the blanket caught the majority of it that I walked (ahem ran) away without smelling too bad. Hubby and I spent quite a few moments attempting to figure something out when finally I told him I don’t care what you do. Shoot the dang thing for all I care.

Which he did.

Do you know what happens when you shoot a skunk and it doesn’t die right away?

It sprays.

All over.

We “fondly” remembered that skunk for weeks.

And now a year later we are still fondly remembering Pepe. Why you ask? Well because when I reminded hubby that he had to remove the dead skunk from over by the cat condo, he put it in the wheelbarrow to dispose of it.

A few weeks later I notice Harley is over in the tall grass going to town digging and rolling in something. I immediately called hubby and asked, ever so sweetly, “where exactly did you get rid of the skunk?” To which he replied, “Oh, about 2′ into the tall grass over by the edge of your garden.”

Yes, my hubby will re-home a live raccoon six miles down the road, but when I ask him to get rid of a skunk he dumps it 50 yards from the house so we can relive this experience for a lonnnnngggg time.

Embracing the Ups and Downs

While there may be a lot of ups and downs living in a rural area, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. These bumps and blips along the road are what makes life interesting and fun, and presents opportunities to tell funny stories for years to come. (Check out my last post on 4 Ways to Move Beyond Anxiety and Fear where I share how funny stories can help!)

I know life is chaotic right now, and scary, and full of the unknown. If we put all of our attention on that though, that is exactly how we will live our life – in chaos and fear. Rather, I focus on the good I see and if you can see past your fear there truly is a lot of it out there….. hearts on windows, hundreds of people lining up to make homemade masks, people coordinating meals for those who are working incredible hours, medical personnel fighting the battle of their lives, and people doing what they are asked to by staying home.

I was listening to author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on Instagram the other day, and she spoke about how humans were resilient and adaptable to change. And that’s so true. From stories I know it happened during WWII, I remember it happening during 9/11, and I see it happening now.

Out of the ashes, a phoenix rises; and so do we as human beings.

Until next time, capture your life!

Myra

P.S. Be sure to visit my website and fill out the sign-up so you never miss a blog post!

P.P.S. Just wait till I tell you the story about the Mountain Lion in our yard.

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