This situation started out innocently enough. It always does at Texotic Farms. It is my love of all animals that creates situations that never occur in normal people’s households.
It was mid-year 2020, the period remembered by all as the “year from hell” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was sitting at my computer trying to get inspired to write a report when out of my window I see four or five fat gray squirrels and several red male cardinals feeding on the smorgasbord of food in the glass feeders attached from bars on the contemporary 10-foot stand. Suddenly, like an explosion, fur, feathers and food all went airborne and the stand was empty.
The culprit: a 25-pound, ring-tailed, golden-gray fur tipped racoon that was now strolling across the grassy yard, strutting with the confidence as if it was “king of the estate.”
Upon reaching his/her destination (I have no expertise at sexing coons), it stretched its full body upward (three feet) to reach the delicacy of sunflower seeds that still remained in the stand’s containers. If only the story ended here, but it doesn’t!
The question of the racoon’s sex was revealed later when, the now named, Rhonda arrived a few days later with four half-grown babies. She moved around the yard with her family, stopping to instruct them on how to balance on their hind legs and steal food from the squirrel’s stand. She continued her family adventure with “exercise hour,” where the group chased each other on the Macaw parrots’ 8-foot by 10-foot wire aviary. The parrots were not amused!
Their nest was discovered (but left undisturbed) later in the barn, tucked away approximately 25 feet up in the rafters, right over the llama pens.
I was so entertained with the little family of bandits that I decided to try feeding them dog food and any leftovers from dinner on the breezeway on the side of the house, right outside the back door.
Rhonda was smart, agile, sociable and determined. In no time, she not only brought her family to the house, but also invited Peter the Opossum.
It is now one year later and we are on the second family about to move from their barn nest out to my back door. This year, Rhonda energetically created her nest as a cave under the barn foundation. Where does she find the energy with four babies?
Like clockwork at 5 p.m., she comes around the porch, passes by my office window and proceeds to gorge herself on the squirrel’s sunflower seeds. Punctually at 9 p.m., she appears at my backdoor with Ricky the Racoon, the assumed father of the kids. If the food isn’t out, she lets me know by scratching the door. Her tricks don’t stop there, however. Yesterday while swimming in the pool, I look out at the aviary where I’d just fed the Macaws and there she was…inside the totally contained wire cage eating side-by-side with the birds!
Rhonda is very sociable, perhaps a bit too much. Last night I glanced out on the porch to see a real party going on. Rhonda had invited six skunks to join the feast.
So, let this be a warning, NEVER INVITE A RACOON TO DINNER!