Opossums, raccoons, you name it – they all like to take up residence at my place. I've chronicled my battles with big raccoons and wily opossums for months now in the "Front Porch" feature in Indiana Prairie Farmer. Those reports will continue occasionally, because the battle is not over. However, just a couple of days ago I finally broke into the scoring column, quite by accident.
For several days I had noticed that after I put the dog up for the night in the garage, taking him out of the pen, his outside heated water bowl and feeder were empty the next morning. I didn't think much about it at first – maybe they were empty and I didn't notice.
Then I started paying more attention. When I took the dog out of his pen, he had plenty of feed and water. Sure enough, the next morning both of his dishes were bone dry – completely empty. So I locked the gate instead of leaving the gate unlatched to his pen.
That didn't matter. They got in anyway.
So one night it warmed up, and I left the dog in the pen. He's getting older and when he sleeps, a freight train won't wake him. Apparently a possum won't either. Sure enough, the next morning, even with him in the pen, both water bowl and feeder were empty.
A neighbor quipped, "Yeah, they're probably saying, supper is at Bechman's tonight – come on over after dark."
He thought it was funny. I didn't laugh.
So I got a different trap; the little thieves kept stealing peanut butter and crackers out of the first one I had, without getting caught.
Before I could set it, I decided to spend Saturday morning picking up limbs. It seemed like half the pine tree inside the dog's pen had fallen to the ground during winter storms. I put the dog in the garage, and walked in the pen to cut up branches and load them up.
Out of the corner of my eye, there was a furry critter hunkered down in a hole the dog had clawed out near the house. Sure enough, it was a possum. I calmly finished my job, keeping an eye on him. As is a possum's MO, he stayed silent, hoping I would go away I'm sure.
When I was finished, I got my soon-to-be son-in-law to help me remove the possum from the pen. Hopefully he or his buddies don't come back.
That didn't prove true. I was extremely tired that evening, and slept like a rock. Somewhere in the midst of sleep I remember getting roused up. Next thing I know I was screaming for the dog to back away from the possum. He was barking feverishly, just a few inches from the possum's head, with the possum snarling back.
The sucker was in the same hole where his sidekick was, but it wasn't the same possum! For whatever reason Cowboy, our dog, a chubby basset hound with a big bark, relented and went for the garage.
That's all I remember. The next morning I woke with this image of a possum snarling at me in my head.
"Did I dream that or did that really happen?" I asked Carla, my wife.
"No, it happened," she answered. "You got Cowboy inside so he quit barking. You said something about another possum. Did you get him?"
"No, I barely remember it," I said.
"See, then it's a good thing you didn't try to shoot him," she quipped. "You probably would have shot out a window."
Probably so. He was gone the next morning, and nothing took my dog food or water last night. Maybe we put a mighty fear into them. Of course the last time I thought that, the monster raccoon that's still at large returned and tossed feed bags like ragdolls. Stay tuned!