Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

May 22, 2013

Country living with the critters

Greensburg — Sometimes you wonder why we’re always being dined on by insects.

We’re too big to consume in one meal, we don’t fit in doggy bags, and I’ll bet we don’t have much flavor in the first place.

As our population continues to swell and more “city slickers” seek the solitude of country living, many of these “rural folks” find themselves, probably for the first time, sharing living quarters with the local inhabitants.

Problems often arise from communal living, especially when a former big city resident has their first encounter with a possum roaming through the garage. The first natural reaction is a blood curdling scream followed by “Honey, call the exterminators. We’ve got rats. BIG ONES!” Next comes a massive supply of D-Con and a beaver trap while the poor possum struggles off and dies of a heart attack from all the commotion.

The lack of understanding between humans and country critters has resulted in the two teams changing sides. As more of us move into the sticks, more of them move into town. Maybe that’s a prime example of suburban blight and urban renewal. However, sometimes the exchange of residents can get a little exciting.

Some years ago we sat in the family room watching TV with the door to the patio open for fresh air. Suddenly, a large raccoon ambled through the door, stood looking around for a few seconds, then casually left as if it was looking at a motel room before making a decision to spend the night. We didn’t mind unannounced guests, but our dog, who was asleep behind the couch, might have had an entirely different viewpoint. A full grown raccoon treed on the back of my easy chair might have made watching an old Dracula movie a little too exciting.

Since most city folks are unfamiliar with the habits and traits of country wildlife dwellers, I think a list of the most common varieties and their usual style of living are in order. After thoroughly studying this list, start practicing rapidly shinnying up a tree or crow hopping backwards while screaming “Snake, Snake!”

Raccoons are smallish critters normally weighing between 1o pounds to 12 or 13 for the really tubby ones. They are easily recognizable by their illusion of wearing a Lone Ranger mask. They are mistakenly considered a fastidious eater because they wash their food and by all appearances are cuddly and cute. Wrong! Trying to convince one to evacuate the corn crib is like asking Adolph Hitler to put down the gun. They are highly opinionated about certain things and have no reservations about expressing themselves in a manner that will have you looking for higher ground in short order. Forget about climbing a tree as a means of escape. The raccoon will be waiting for you when you get to the first limb. Your best protection is a blue tic hound with a low IQ and a thorough knowledge of who fills his food bowl every night.

Everyone is somewhat familiar with the owls in this part of the country, but a city slicker wouldn’t know the difference between a screech owl and a hoot owl if one was jerking hair off the family cat. Nocturnal by nature, owls hunt mostly by night, thus making it difficult to see much less identify the species. The hoot owl is the largest, best known for its mournful call that gave it its name. If you have any doubts about identifying the hoot owl, rent an old Dracula or Frankenstein movie. One will show up in these eventually.

Apparently, mating owls sometimes have family problems, as demonstrated one night while we sat outside enjoying a moonlit evening. The old man must have been hanging around with the wrong crowd and his wife was waiting for him when he returned home. The squabble started with the usual hoots and then swung into a series of yelps, wails, and caterwauling that sounded like two New York cabbies trying to get through an intersection at the same time.

I started grumbling in support of the old man and Judy took favor with the distaff side. I made the mistake of hissing, “You don’t have to take that, old boy. Show her who’s boss,” and as a result spent the rest of the night sleeping on the patio deck. If you move to the sticks, don’t interfere in family squabbles between wildlife.

The one critter that draws more attention than any other is the snake. I’ve always followed the philosophy that if it doesn’t have hair or legs, give it a wide berth. That’s unfortunate because the snake is a much maligned creature, being one of the reasons we don’t find a live mouse in the cereal box every morning. Most farmers would rather have a snake in the corn crib than their mother-in-law in the living room. As for me, I assume that every snake I meet is a King Cobra. I’ll leave making buddies with them up to the herpatologists.

Some of the other local residents a city slicker might encounter are groundhogs, squirrels, salamanders and chipmunks, all harmless. That is until the lady of the house finds one in the kitchen and the man has to repair all the damage caused by the shotgun blast. Ah, country living.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014

  • Shining a light on the Federal Reserve If you are like most Americans, you probably have heard of the Federal Reserve. But, you may not know much about what the Fed actually does or the very real ways its decisions impact your day-to-day life. The Federal Reserve was founded by Congress i

    July 22, 2014

  • Expiring term heightens the urgency of lawmaker's mission INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrant

    July 22, 2014

  • fea-gb072214 Spaulding column jpg Spaulding Outdoors: The inside on Indiana's outside Free beginner waterfowl hunting workshopsTwo free waterfowl hunting workshops for beginners will be offered in August and September by the Department of Natural Resources. The focus of the workshops is on hunting Canada geese, although there will be

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thankful for our veterans' sacrifice On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 17, 2014

  • Please go away My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven’t caught up. I don’t have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 17, 2014

  • Pat Smith: Undiscovered treasures in the home Last week I wrote about finding a certificate showing that my husband had purchased 15 shares of the “Souvenir Stock of Greensburg Community Centennial, Inc held in 1959. What I found nearby was even more intriguing; at least, it was to me. It is a v

    July 16, 2014

  • What's in the attic? Shoes! Shoes reflect our personality, our fashion sense, our role in society and our mood on any given day. Without a word they say, soccer mom, corporate executive, medical technician or going nowhere, doin’ nothing’. Last year in the US more than 350 mill

    July 16, 2014

  • Road to funding Indiana highways jammed INDIANAPOLIS – If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ri

    July 15, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.