14 May 2008

I'm Turning into Elly Mae!

I feed animals. Inside ones and outside ones. I started out just feeding stray cats. Then I started feeding the birds, which of course brought the squirrels. Then we noticed that we would also occasionally have raccoons and possums (opossums?) in our yard. And of course we always smelled it when Mr. Skunk would make an appearance. We have a fence around our backyard, so we don't see too many bunnies. (I guess they don't like to dig under fences). We used to have foxes before they started doing construction in the field across the street. I liked the foxes.

Now before you think I live in the boonies, let me assure you, I live right in the middle of a fairly populous suburban town. (about 35,000 people). There is shopping and a major roadway 5 mins from me. But my subdivision is one of the oldest in our town, so these animals have had about 50 years to establish themselves.

Which brings me to yesterdays and today's happenings. We realized about a month ago that a small possum had taken up residence under our deck. We could see right through the slats (we have an old deck), there he'd (it could have been a she, but we'll refer to it as he), be all curled up, fast asleep as we went about our backyard business. I feed a stray cat that has also taken up residence on my back deck, so occasionally there will be a bowl of food on the deck, that said stray never finished. Mr. Possum would wake up and come onto the deck and eat. He was very cute, if you like that primeval look in your animals. Didn't care for the tail too much, but cute overall. This isn't our possum, just a picture to show you how cute they are.

So anyway, said possum has/had been hanging around for the past month or so. Over the weekend, I noticed he was not in his same sleeping spot under the deck. Instead of in a corner up near the house, he had moved out into the center of the deck. I could see him, he appeared to be sleeping, I thought nothing of it. Monday while outside, I realized he was in the exact same spot. I got down on all fours and really peered down through the slats at him to see if he was breathing. I didn't see movement. How well can a possum play dead? I didn't want to poke him, I was afraid he might wake up and I didn't want to be face to face with a mad possum. (Wouldn't you be mad if someone woke you by poking you with a stick?) So I just watched him a while. Looked pretty dead.

I told DH. About 10 years ago another possum decided to die under our deck. We didn't find out about him until he began to smell. So I figured we were at least ahead of the game on this one. He wasn't smelly yet. But it still wasn't a pleasant experience pulling a dead possum out from under ones deck.

By the time DH got home Monday night, we forgot about Mr. Possum. So last night we knew what we had to do. Or I knew what DH had to do. We/he had to pull up 3 deck boards just to get to where he was at. That's when we realized he was actually wedged under a lower deck support. I think he didn't realize he was a growing possum, and went and got himself stuck and died. I feel badly that he probably died of dehydration/starvation under my deck. Why didn't he scream for help?

Anyway, removal was not easy. We/DH (when I say we I mean I was there for moral support and to offer helpful advice when needed. Of course DH would tell you my advice was never needed.) Oldest DD was there with her video camera and made a movie of the entire episode. It was kind of like a tragic comedy. Maybe we'll post it to you tube.

So DH was finally able to pry poor possum out from under the support board and grabbed him by his rat like tail and flung him into an already prepped garbage can. See picture below. (Possum is barely visible dangling upside down over the garbage can).

The homeschooling mom in me came out when I realized he would be the perfect specimen for a dissection! Of course it was only for a fleeting second, because I don't think I could really do it.

May poor possum rest in peace, and may the rest of his kin not be so stupid as to think they can fit under my deck!

Today's' tale started with my oldest yelling from her bedroom that Cal (see cat story in archives for picture of Cal) had a mouse. I went running (bad leg and all) into DD's room. Said mouse is now nowhere to be seen. I decide to let the cat try to find it again, as DD's room was not exactly clean enough to go mouse hunting. About 15 mins later DD calls again. We can hear him digging in her closet. Well, her closet is full of crap! I close one side of the closet, so I know he only has one way out, and I'll see him if he tries. I slowly start taking things out of the closet. Hats, bags, clothes, comforters, books, toys, stuffed animals, an old loom, old shoes, a plastic sword (which actually came in handy. It prevented me from actually having to touch something that may have a mouse hidden in it. While I do like small rodents, I don't like to be surprised by them, kwim?) He did run around few times while I was removing stuff, but he was never in a position to throw a box over him, which was my plan.

Finally I had everything out of the closet and poor little mouse was huddled in the far corner. My youngest got me a Cheeto (did you know mice like Cheetos?) and a peanut (which we have on hand for the squirrels) which we dipped in peanut butter to make it particularly fragrant and pleasing to delicate mouse sensibilities. I placed the Cheeto and peanut butter covered peanut right in the center of the closet. Oh mice are stupid animals. After a few minutes he walked right over to the bountiful buffet we had laid before him. He didn't even notice the shoebox getting ready to come down over his head. Ah ha! I had him. Luckily DD's room was still a mess because there happened to be a clothing box just laying there from Christmas time! I ripped off a chunk to slide under the shoe box. But the shoebox and cardboard base were still too flimsy to pick up, and I was afraid Mr. Mouse would escape and there were 4 cats ready to eat him if he did. So I slid him on the floor, down the hall all the way to the front door. (That's fun to do with a bad back and leg btw). When we got the front door, I needed to get him over the threshold. I slid an old record album (Rick Springfield actually. I knew he'd come in handy again : ) under the box to make it sturdy and picked him up and put him outside. Both DD's were ready with their cameras to take his little picture as we gave him his freedom. Here he is, isn't he cute? He's a Deer Mouse.

So one dead possum and one live mouse later, I am wondering what animal will befall us next? We have had squirrels in our house, we have had birds in our house. And obviously we have had mice (this was not the first time). At least we didn't up end up with a dead possum IN our house. And I saved a mouse, I did my good deed for the day. And my karma is back in order because I didn't hear the calls of a poor, stuck possum.

~“Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.”~
—Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2416


Stephanie said...


That is a link to our possom adventure.

We used to always attract the strays and we still do get some critters here and there.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Our interaction with the animals in our lives, is one of the greatest clues to our true natures.