Some little furry animals decided our barns are a Hilbert Hilton Inn Winter Resort, offering not only warm sleeping quarters well-insulated with hay, but unlimited meals and beverages anytime. Of course, they expect us to provide these lavish accommodations free of charge!
A few weeks ago, about the time our beautiful fall weather turned into a typical Kansas cold winter, Bill noticed the water in the cat’s dish in the old barn was disappearing. Our cat, Molly Bolt, gets fresh water at the house so doesn’t usually drink much in the barn. His food bowl was also being licked cleaner than usual. Molly Bolt loves his food, but doesn’t lick every minute trace of it from the bowl. We put his supper on top of a tall grain bin enclosure out of reach of most critters. Or so we thought.
Bill set a live trap in the barn, baited with—what else?—cat food. The suspected culprits were opossums or raccoons. A couple of mornings later, he found an unhappy opossum in the trap. He loaded the trap in the back of the truck, drove a mile or so down the road and relocated the critter to a new home. When he came home, he reset and re-baited the trap in the barn.
About the same time, we were loading firewood from a lean-to at the old barn to bring to the house when we discovered evidence a packrat had set up housekeeping in the wood pile. The furnishings/food supply included small potatoes and onions, walnuts, corncobs, small twigs and swatches of burlap sack. I suspected the last two items were for curtains and rods.
Time to go shopping for more live traps. Bill came home armed with a raccoon/opossum model and a smaller packrat model. He set and baited the traps and we waited.
One morning when Bill was feeding the three bottle calves in the newer barn, Cricket found a possum in the trap and it wasn’t “playing possum!” Bill heard her barking and growling and something else hissing and growling so went to check it out. Another possum went for a ride.
Over the next few weeks, he caught nine possums between the two barns, no raccoons and no packrats. The possums were relocated to the new colony Bill established, “Possum Hollow.” The latest arrival sprinted out of the trap so fast after Bill released the door that he nearly missed the photo op! Didn’t know possums could move that fast.
He wasn’t as lucky the second time. The skunk was seriously ticked off and launched its natural hazardous chemical warfare! Bill threw a tarp over the trap to keep the noxious gas contained while he loaded the prisoner into the back of the mini-truck and transported it to the newly-established skunk colony.
The bottle calves weren’t very pleased about the odor in their dining room and bedroom. Bill opened the double doors at both ends of the barn to air it out.
To date, Bill has relocated nine possums and three skunks. The packrat is still at large.