Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is that a raccoon?

Since the raccoon attacks Wren has become very anxious around the house.  Heather noticed it first, yesterday, when he was afraid to be alone in a room and followed her everywhere, including to the bathroom.

When I asked him about his fear he said: "I had a bad dream about a werewolf that jumped out at me and it keeps coming back."

I told him that I thought he was really scared about raccoons and that he did not need to be because they do not attack children.

"Do they come in the house?" he asked?

I had to admit that they do, sometimes, but "they only come in the kitchen.  They don't come into the bedroom."

He decided he would be safe if he was not in the kitchen.

Josh said I should not read him a scary children's book called Lon Po Po - a Chinese version of little Red Riding Hood and Granny vs Wolf.

This afternoon it was hard to get things done because Wren was so scared at home.  He would wail and scream if I was out of sight (to do the laundry, fetch clothes, put things away etc).  He was particularly scared of Kitty.  Yes, Kitty Haiku whom we have had since Frost was 2 years old and who is the kindest most long-suffering cat in the world.

Whenever Kitty Haiku came into the room he would shriek, look at her and ask "Is that Kitty Haiku?  I don't want to SEE HER.  Go AWAY!"

Is this a raccoon?
I sat him down and asked whether he was still scared of raccoons.

"I think that Kitty Haiku is a raccoon!  Remember my Werewolf Dream!  It is still coming all the time."  He also told me that he doesn't like Raccoons at all because "They look like the Tailypo and that is too scary."

Its true, the Tailypo has a very raccoon-like tail in the library book we read last week.

When we played with Playmobil this morning, the raccoon was the Bad Animal and it ate the pirates raccoons.   I am hoping this fear is transitory and does not cling like Wren's concern about dogs and waves and ominous noises.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mum has left but not the boletes

Mum has returned to Australia and the cold wet weather continues.  We have the orange porch light up for Halloween and a healthy spread of spooky bones hanging around the yard.  Tomorrow, Frost has planned a party for some of his old school friends and on Sunday we are trick or treating with Isaac and Alex. 

Frost's Zombie Skeleton costume arrived just in time for his class party.

Dropping Frost off at Jaxie's for a playdate I was excited to see many crops of mushrooms in her yard.  I have identified 3 species - one being the edible birch bolete ( Leccinum scabrum) which I plan to eat.
There have been many more mushrooms popping up with this cold rain and I am hoping to participate in the Arboretum Mushroom Bioblitz on Saturday! 

I am excited about doing more botanical drawing of fungi.

Leccinum Scabrum from under birch in Jaxie's yard

His face as fat as a bolete
Tomorrow, Wren and I are going to go for a walk in the park and also run some errands to get dry ice and supplies for the party.  Blogging to now resume with regularity!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I can't even believe I am writing this but New Chicken has been killed.   I returned home from dropping Mum at the airport and was sitting in the living room with the kids when Ruby (our Rhode Island Red) flew wildly up at the window.  The window is about 10ft above the ground so I rushed out the house to see what was going on.

It was around 5.20pm, about an hour before sunset and still light.

As I ran around the corner I saw Ruby landing on the woodpile while a raccoon was killing New Chicken.

I ran towards it and in my panic I didn't see where the raccoon went.  New Chicken was still alive and struggling her legs and trying to stand up.  For a moment I thought I was going to have to kill her and wasn't sure if I should go and get a knife, hit her with a rock, wring her neck or what.  After some inspection of the amount of brilliant red blood and the damage to her head, I soon realized she was dying fast and her movement was probably mainly nerves.   I sat on the ground and stroked her until she was dead and still.   I said sorry and wished that I could kill the fucking raccoon.

The kids watched from the living room window.

At about that moment I realized the raccoon was waiting right next to me - about 2 feet away on the other side of the gate.  I could have touched it if the gate wasn't in the way.

I was so mad.

A raccoon (for you forinners) looks like this.  Picture courtesy of
who saved their chickens from a daytime attack.
I grabbed a big chunk of firewood and threw it at the raccoon - dropped it on it over the gate.  I missed.  I threw another and hit it so it climbed the small tree by the gate.  I yelled at it and threw another log (from 5 ft away) which hit it but it just turned and stared at me.   I was so crazy to hit it that I missed the next and kept wishing Mum was still here because she said she was a great shot with a rock.

I threw another big log and ran and yelled and it dropped to the ground.

I kept throwing logs until it was gone down the steps to the street.  It was still really day, a moment before the chickens had been scritching in the dirt, they hadn't even started to come to the back door for me to take them to their night perch in the garage.  It was so early!

I returned and put dead chicken in a paper bag in the kitchen.  In my fantasies the zombie raccoon returned and dragged New Chicken away to eat it, maddened by the smell of blood.

I retrieved Ruby from the back yard and put her in the kitchen too.  Frost and Wren were crying.  Frost was in his bed, crying because of the chicken being killed and it being "traumatic" seeing the dead chicken and the raccoon and me throwing things and shouting at it.

Wren was crying because Frost yelled at him to get out of his room.

Ruby starting walking up on down on my xylophone which was a bit amusing.  Thing was, I was still super mad at the raccoon.

I went back out into the street carrying two logs and a rock.  I hunted for the raccoon.   All the working people who come by bike and walking from the bus were starting to drift up the street and I was stomping around with a brutal expression and some heavy implements.  I really wanted to find that raccoon and thump it.   I was not in a highly evolved mood.

After a while I realized I wasn't going to find the raccoon and returned home.  I washed down the path with the hose and all the clots of blood and feathers went down into the crack by the fence.  I wished the chicken a safe journey and apologized again.

When Josh came home he googled Animal Control and Raccoons.  We are not sure what we are going to do about it.  There is a raccoon out there that has developed a taste for chickens.  At the time I would have killed it myself but now I wonder about trapping and taking a raccoon to the vet to be killed.

I will put the word out among our chicken-loving neighbors but after this I am going to give up keeping chickens.  We are looking for a home for Ruby (an 18 month old Rhode Island Red who lays once a day and is lovely and clever and sweet with people and kids).  She needs to be safe.   A friend of Tara's may take her but we have not yet heard for sure that it will work.