Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Widow and the Window Peeper



I was prepping vegetables for dinner when realized I had a window peeper pressing his nose up against the glass door on my sun porch. I was shocked. What the heck is that? I thought. He was tomcat big, brown and fat with an slight overbite and he was only 15 feet away. When I moved closer to the door, he didn’t move. It crossed my mind that he was a monster rat but his tail was hairy and in the moment I thought rats all have flat tails void of fur. I’m not sure if that’s true but the part that freaked me out the most---after the rat thought passed---was it wasn’t afraid of me. Is he rabid? I worried. Back and forth between my dining room and sun porch glass doors he went, like he was determine to get inside. If he had a key, he would have used it, but foam didn’t followed in his wake. Nope, not rabid. Thankfully, Levi the Mighty Schnauzer was guarding the bedroom windows so I didn’t have to deal with his and my own freaking out at the same time. 

The window peeper hung around for a four-five minutes while I scared myself over how often I leave those doors wide open. Ohmygod, if the window peeper had come by the day before, he could have walked right into the house! Finally, he found his way down the steps to the dog yard where he searched for and found a place by the gate where he squeezed through the slats to freedom. I ventured out on the deck and watched him move along the lattice work at the bottom of the deck, me standing less than three feet above him, until he disappeared under my Blue Spruce. 

I hopped on the computer and located a website with videos of various wildlife of Michigan. My window peeper was a woodchuck! I didn’t see him the rest of the day and Levi didn’t get his backyard run that night. But from a woodchuck website I learned that harassment is a good way to get them to move their dens and it recommended dogs to do the harassing. Levi will be happy when I tell him that. Also under the heading of harassing techniques is to plant garlic around the opening of its burrow or pepper the area with talcum powder or blood meal. Traps, of course, and poison bait were also mentioned. It’s possible to co-exist with a woodchuck living close-by, I read, as long as it doesn’t undermine your foundation or steps---or in my case, the Blue Spruce. I’m glad I was able to identify the window peeper and it wasn’t a monster rat. If it had been a rat, I would’ve dialed 1-800-WILL-KILiT so fast the phone would have been smoking.

The idea of killing the woodchuck just because he doesn’t pay taxes where I live isn’t in my DNA and according to what I read if I’m going to harass the critter to move out of his burrow the ideal timing is now through September. He’ll still have time to settle into new digs before winter. You also can’t harass or bait them in the winter, the website said, because the females will have a litter of babies down in the burrows and it’s inhumane to kill the adults and let the babies starve. In the spring I’d have to wait until three weeks after seeing the babies above ground before I could start harassing the happy family. I have no idea what blood meal is but talcum powder sounds less Stephen King-ish so I’ll start with that. Jeez, and I thought chipmunks are a pain-in-butt for the way the taunt the dog. Wait until he sees the window peeper up close and personal. It's almost as big as he is. Operation Harassment will begin tonight when I will let Levi inspect the burrow. I hope he marks the place with pee-mail that says, “This is your eviction notice. Get out!”

It’s interesting the wide range of opinions people have about killing wildlife. When Cecil the famous lion was killed recently it was a hot topic at a debate website where I go. My husband was a life-long hunter. I understand the science of game management to protect the health and size of the herds out in the wild. I understand the ethical differences between a hunter with honor and those without---the ones who poach or take part in canned and big game trophy hunts. In my opinion, the latter categories of 'hunters' have scum-filled testicles. Sorry, if you’re someone with a dead-head from the Serengeti hanging on your wall. I’m not impressed.

Don was a hunter with honor. He followed the laws to the letter, never took a shot that wasn’t guaranteed to be a kill-shot, and he never baited game animals. He didn’t believe in those things and his manhood-ego didn't depend on him coming home with a dead animal strapped to the hood of his truck. In the last decade of my husband going out west during hunting season, he got a bigger thrill out taking award worthy photographs of wildlife using a telegraphic lens that would have been the envy of any paparazzi. It happened to my dad in his last years of hunting, too. The older they got, the less they had the heart for bringing down an animal that was minding his own business. The older we all get the more we appreciate the frailness of life and the senselessness of not co-existing with nature. If my window peeper could talk, he'd probably say that's why he moved into a widow's yard. He knew I'd be too old and soft to have 1-800-WILL-KILiT on my speed dial. ©

18 comments:

  1. I'm glad you didn't have the window open when this critter showed up. Getting them out of the house once they get in is never fun.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I had to get a bird out of the house once. I can't imagine doing it with a woodchuck, especially with the dog I have now trying to help. I don't have a lot of doors inside the house to close him off either.

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  2. I grew up with "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood..." (etc.) But, I've never known someone who had one resident. It's really kind of cool. I had raccoons for about three years. Every year the mama would bring her babies for me to see, and then they'd head back out. Oh, do I have raccoon tales.

    I've nothing against hunting -- particularly deer hunting. Here in Texas, the white tails are so prolific we have to do everything possible to keep their numbers down, and keep fewer from starving. And, much of the meat hunters don't want can go to homeless shelters, veterans' halfway houses, and so on, so that's good.

    I just finished off the last of my venison summer sausage last month. It grieved me to do it, but we're getting near the new season, so it was time.

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    1. Hunters here in Michigan have the same program of deer meat going to homeless shelters. We have a very high deer-car accident rate here in the fall, so hunting is important in some counties. I've never liked the taste of deer or antelope so anything Don go was made into salami.

      My sister-in-low had racoons living in a tree next to her deck. She had great stories to tell, too. They are so cute when they are little.

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  3. Yikes! I've had my share of run-ins with woodchucks, but I've never had one try to get into the house. Usually they are more than happy to set up housekeeping under my deck and have multiple exits into as many different parts of the garden as possible. I'll admit that going out in the morning to find a big empty space where a favorite plant was growing the day before can trigger a murderous rage in me. Happily, I have no woodchuck in residence this year, so I'm able to enjoy my plants unmolested. -Jean

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    1. I had to look up what they ate, too, and so far I have seen any damage around my plants. I've seen woodchucks in the distance before, living around the neighbors landscape rocks. Either their growing dog chased this one out on a scouting trip or one is leaving the family unit. It should be interesting but I'm wary of using the deck now.

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  4. I am not a fan of wildlife in my yard. I'm a city girl. We actually live in the heart of the city, but there is a steep ravine that runs through this area and our home is situated on it. We get critters. Our Golden Retriever apparently kept most of them in the woods and off the lawn until he died a couple of years ago. Now we see dozens of squirrels and chipmunks, deer this summer, and the dreaded Mountain Beaver. Ewww! They also look like big rats. They are said to be fairly rare and "shy", but they are bold enough here. They build deep tunnels and burrows and undermine slopes (hope ours holds!) and it is ILLEGAL to bait trap or poison them. I could call someone to live trap and relocate them, for a huge fee, but eventually more would take their place. This summer they've come right onto our patio and completely decimated the fern garden, ripping the fronds out at the base and scurrying off with the greenery to their dens. I just read about some spray that will act as a deterrent. Gonna give it a try.

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    1. They make a spray called 'Bitter Apple' to keep puppies from chewing on plants and other things. I'll bet what you read about is similar. If you buy some, wear plastic gloves. I can attest that 'Biter Apple' does, indeed taste yucky bitter. LOL It's legal to trap beaver here in certain seasons but there are a lot of regulations on the types of traps that can be used. I wouldn't want one on my deck.

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  5. I grew up with Chucks all over the yard and farm buildings. We solved the problem with a well placed shot from the .22 rifle. I DID have a rabid one once that refused to move from my front porch. I called my daughter Pam and she dispatched him with a shotgun. Did you know, Wood Chucks and Ground Hogs are one in the same?

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    1. They can be a problem on a farm, I'll bet. We sure don't hear about rabid animals much anymore but it seemed common when we were young, didn't it. I did know that ground hogs and woodchucks are the same. I wonder how it got two names.

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  6. I think they might have the two different names based on where they live...ground hogs in the prairies because there are no woods to chuck!
    We have them here too and they can be destructive, eating plants and digging. For some reason I started closing the door behind the screen at night and now I know why! I told a friend I didn't want any animals gnawing at the screen even though the only thing bold enough to be on the deck is chipmunks and all I can say about them is that they are lucky they are cute! I'm not a gun person but my neighbor is kind enough to oblige if there is a problem. He had a use his gun last week on some foxes who were digging under the chicken coop. Levi should be a good deterrent.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. While researching them I found out they are also called whistle pigs and land beaver and are related to the squirrel family. names based on where they live makes sense. Their burrows can be from 6 to 66 feet long and they each have their own bathroom chambers! I definitely don't want him to stay around. I live in the city so guns would be out of the question but I can see why a fox would have to go if around a chicken coop. I get rabbits in the winter on my deck when they can walk right up the snow piles and a rare cat will sun himself there but that's the only wildlife I've ever had on my deck. I'm not afraid of rabbits but I was of the wood chuck, who don't chuck wood according to what I read.

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    2. Yep, this is the groundhog of groundhog day. Hey, since yours is so tame and unafraid of humans maybe you can get him to come out on Feb. 2 and predict the weather! :-)

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  7. OMG, shocking to suddenly see a woodchuck right in your face. My father was a duck & pheasant hunter. Me, I never liked the thought of killing animals. My friend Al was a big game hunter and still has the head of big animal that he killed as well as black bear skin. It's silly to me. I never liked guns, small or big ones. They scare me. That's just me.
    Have a wonderful day Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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  8. Well--the Wood Chucks I have been acquainted with DO chuck wood. The wood from out buildings around the farms. They start chucking on the wood nearest the foundation of the barns and sheds and before long, they have chucked, two feet high of the wood siding. Ergo--my BIL and kids who live on said farms, have their .22 rifles and shotguns handy.

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  9. Loved your encounter with the woodchuck. I live at the edge of the Texas hill country and (mostly) love watching nature's soap opera out my back door. I've made a long list of critters who visit. On the downside, I'm not happy to see occasional wild pigs (nasty,) skunks (2 of my dogs sprayed.) and diamond back rattlesnakes. Yes, I have a gun.

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  10. We have a woodchuck/ground hog. I think I wrote about him on my blog. So far, he has stayed on the other side of the fence... as far as I know. I left the door open the other day while sweeping the patio. I later thought about snakes. Never thought about the ground hog, but I will from now on. We have a lot of wild life. They enjoy the open pasture, trees and the small pond. It's heaven for them.

    My brother hunts also, but would never, ever do what that hunter did. My husband used to be a hunter. He swears he's going to go hunting again, but I think he likes being in the woods. It's so peaceful if one of the city boys who come down every year doesn't shoot you.

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  11. You should be able to find some wildlife deterrents at either Lowe's or Home Depot -- either blood meal or a chemical deterrent. Just be sure to read the label to find out if you can use it without harming your dog.

    We had some outside cats for many years (the result of people coming out in the country to "dump" their unwanted animals) and their food also attracted scores of raccoons. Well, the cats are now all gone (we found other homes for them), but the raccoons are still hanging around, hoping for handouts. While they are appealing, especially the babies, we do not want to attract them, mainly because they can carry rabies and distemper. It's hard to overcome the temptation to put out food for them, but we feel they'd be better off to dine on their natural foods rather than "people" food. We're hoping that they'll soon cross us off their list of "restaurants."

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