Friday, September 22, 2017

A Stinky Situation?

What do you do when you have a colony of ground squirrels living on the backside of the property up on the hill away from the house, nowhere near anything you are using? You leave them alone.

Now what do you do when one comes down the hill and takes up residence underneath your shop? This is when you panic, ground squirrels are viscous little creatures and I really don't need one tearing up the foundation of my shop by building squirrel tunnels and inviting all of his friends. I have never heard of this before but I don't want to be the first guy to get the lower leg of his jeans ripped to shreds by a pesky squirrel that is squatting under his shop.

Wire live animal trap sitting on top of empty flower pots
My live animal trap
The solution is a live animal trap, this way if I catch the squirrel then I can deal with him, and if I catch one of Cindy's rabbits then I simply release it, no harm no foul.

The squirrel had been spotted running out from under my shop and munching on the little cottonwood tree saplings that are springing up in the garden area. My idea was to set the trap right in the middle of a batch of these trees; I also had some concrete hard dirt that I had dumped out of the pots from our failed tomato-growing excursion this summer. I placed the dirt shaped like a flower pot next to the trap to semi hide it, and then covered the top with some of the tree saplings that I had pulled up.

Perfect, now I have created a secluded dining place for the pesky squirrel. Within a couple of hours I had the varmint captured.

After "relocating the squirrel" I set the trap once again, the very next morning when I went to let the chickens out, the trap was sprung, inside was a half grown rabbit, I opened the door and watched him scamper to safety.

Yesterday morning our little dog Dixie and I went to let the chickens out and again the trap was sprung. Another half grown rabbit. I think it was either the first ones twin, or the same rabbit again. I opened the door and Dixie chased it all the way to the fence. The rabbit got to the fence long before Dixie did, with Dixie being fourteen years old, the rabbit had a good chance of out running her.

I decided if I had another rabbit this morning that I would just release him and put my trap away. As Dixie and I made our way to the Chicken pen I could see the door was once again slammed shut on the trap, I went by and opened the door to release the flock for their daily routine, then I looked into the trap. I slowly backed away...

Skunk caught in live animal trap sitting in between cottonwood saplings
Skunk in live animal trap, taken from a distance.
What do you do when all of a sudden you realize this is not Bugs Bunny but instead Pepe Le Pew?

The first thing you do is remain calm and slowly, I said slowly back away, I had to grab Dixie because she does have a history with skunks. We had to take her in for a de-skunking at the groomers after her last encounter.

I really didn't want she or I to be forced into a de-skunking this morning, so I took her back into the house. Cindy asked me, Did you catch anything this morning? I said, Yes I did. Another rabbit? Nope a skunk...

She had the nerve to laugh out loud, she laughed so hard that her face turned red, she was literally bent over and slapping her knee. I didn't think this was all that funny, not laughing out loud funny. One time my brother in law came up against a skunk, I wrote about it in Jest Shoot Em if you want to laugh at a skunk story, I thought this was funny even though my sister didn't.

I asked Cindy if she wanted to walk out with me to go and see the skunk. No way she said. I bet it really stinks. He didn't spray, I told her, we just have to remain calm and move slowly. What are you going to do with him? She asked. I'm just going to release him, you and I are going to place a tarp over the trap so he won't see us, and then I will open the door and let him go. Good luck with that, she said, because you are on your own Bud...

I gathered my shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, in preparation for dispatching Pepe back into the wild.

Red broom handle and green tarp lying on a concrete driveway
My red broom handle and trusty green tarp
Actually I grabbed a tarp and a handle that I had saved from an old push broom, the handle was to push the tarp down and around the trap, not to poke the skunk because I was really trying not to get myself sprayed.

I folded the tarp to the approximate size I needed and held it in front of me as I approached the trap, I was also holding the broom handle, which caused me to lose grip of the tarp and drop it from my right hand. I froze for just a minute while the tarp unfolded at my feet and watched the skunk, I'm looking at him and back to my tarp on the ground, he is basically ignoring me, so I re fold the tarp within a few feet of the skunk, he is busy digging up dirt and destroying the vegetation near his enclosure.

With my newly folded tarp I approach the trap, I slowly place the tarp against the side of the trap and this is when I hear a drumming sound, this is a warning that skunks give when they are getting ready to spray, I froze right there doing my best mannequin selling a tarp impersonation and allowed Pepe Le Pew time to settle down.

Green tarp covering live animal trap containing trapped skunk sitting next to a fence
Tarp actually covering live animal trap the skunk was caught in.
I gently laid the tarp over top of the trap and used the handle to press it into place all around while leaving the trap door accessible; I waited for a minute and then pulled the door open latching it into place. This is when I slowly backed away as quickly as I could, picture me now running backwards in slow motion.

The skunk emerged from his makeshift cave and looked out at the field and definite freedom, I was expecting him to scamper away in that direction, But No! He instead made a right hand turn and squeezed underneath my shop.

I did the only thing that made sense for me to do at the time, I picked up my green tarp, red broom handle, and live animal trap to put them all away, and then I went back to the house for a cup of coffee.

Cartoon character skunk Pepe Le Pew
Pepe Le Pew (Source)
What do you do when a skunk goes underneath your shop after being released and not spraying you? You leave him alone...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Down it came

It was fifty nine degrees early this morning and Cindy decided that today is the day to take the pool down for the season, I had just shocked it and added chlorine so needless to say the water was looking really good, crystal clear if I say so myself.

12 ft round above ground pool sitting in front of a small leaning tree.
I said to Cindy that I wanted to get in the pool at least one more time, but there was a slight leak coming out from underneath and to patch it the best thing to do would be to drain the little pool, but it wasn't like the major leak the other one had, I just know that we can swim once more I said.

Look at the temperature Jimmy, Cindy said to me, it won't be that hard and we will be better off taking it down now before it gets colder. Yes but it's not winter yet! I contested. No it's not but it is almost October, she replied. I want to use it one more time, I demanded.

I should know better than to demand anything by now, we have been married over twenty years for goodness sake. So you all know exactly what happened, yes down it came.

The rest of the day I drained the pool and draped it over the poly carts to dry, the tarp that I had the pool sitting on was stretched out on the driveway and hosed off, but before I could do that I had to do something with the dirt that the pool water had washed down the driveway right where I wanted to place the tarp.

Needless to say this little "let's just take the pool down" job started before breakfast and lasted until after supper.

Our little mini poolio is now boxed up and stored away for winter, and after all of the draining, stretching, folding, packing, sweeping, and shoveling dirt, I notice that as the sweat runs down my back that it's really hot out here.

Jimmy floating in above ground pool wearing a straw cowboy hat
I'm thinking this.

Bare spot where above ground pool was sitting before removal, small leaning tree in background
But I'm seeing this.

I say to Cindy, It sure would be nice if we were floating in that pool right now.

She says, Let it go Jimmy, just let it go...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dancing with dogs

You always hear stories about dogs and their interactions with the mailman, the postman rings twice but is then seen being chased down the walkway by Fido.

I know dogs have an aversion to postal workers, but from experience I can attest to the fact that Meter Readers are right there at the top of the list also, in fact anyone who is wearing a uniform shirt with their name over one pocket and the company name they work for over the other is fair game for dogs.

Fido lies in the front yard sleeping with his buddies until an opportunity arises. With one eye open Fido tells Fluffy, hey look it's Ole Jimmy from the Water company coming down the sidewalk, just keep quiet and watch this. Fido quietly creeps across the grass and hides next to a shrub that sits next to the water meter box, and just as Jimmy is kneeling down to read the meter in the ground.

Fido gives a low growl and jumps against the fencing right above Jimmy's head, barking furiously. Jimmy falls backwards dropping everything in his hands. Fluffy joins into the barking frenzy, Jimmy composes himself and reads the meter visibly shaken, as Jimmy walks away, Fido and Fluffy high five one another and laugh their little doggie laughs, and go back to lie in wait for their next victim, possibly the mailman.

I always got along with most animals that I ever came into contact with, but some animals, especially dogs can trick you into their little game.

When I first went to work for the water company, I read meters in the morning and drove around town passing out reminder notices in the afternoon. My first lesson on dealing with dogs came while I was still being trained.

Fred was training me, and we pulled up in front of a house that had a reminder notice due, I had three options, knock on the door and give the notice to the person, hang the notice on the doorknob if no one was at home, or hang the notice on the gate if you couldn't gain access to the yard. Just hang it on the gate, Fred tells me. It looks like they are home, I said. Yes but there are dogs in the yard, Fred replies. I see that, but look how friendly they are.

I opened the gate and two medium sized dogs ran up to me, one was carrying a ball and dropped it in front of me, I threw the ball and patted the other dog on the head, I knocked on the door and ended up hanging the notice on the doorknob.

Walking back down the steps with two dogs bouncing around you is a trick, but throw a ball bouncing at your feet into the mix. I threw the ball several times for the dog while making my way back down the walkway, when I got to the gate I told my new friends that I had to go and grabbed the gate handle to go out. This is when the ball was dropped and both dogs bared their teeth.

I was instantly attacked and the bottom portion of the denim jean material on my right leg was literally ripped off as I fought to pull my leg through the gate, I had to use the gate to keep the dogs inside while I was trying to get out.

I got back to the truck and said to Fred. Man did you see what those dogs did? He said, yeah I saw it, next time I tell you to hang it on the gate I guess you will do it.

After this whenever I approached a customers closed gate with a dog in the yard, I simply hung the notice on the gate and went about my business.

On one such occasion as I approached the gate a boxer came running to meet me, I always liked a boxer having owned a couple in the past, but wasn't going to be tricked like before.
I walked up with a rubber band already attached to the notice, with the intention of attaching it to the top of the chain link gate, the only problem was every time I tried to attach it to the gate the dog would jump up and snap at my hands with his teeth.

So here we are the boxer jumping up and down on one side of the gate and me on the other side holding the notice in one hand and the rubber band attached to it looped around the thumb and index finger of the other hand, moving my hands together from the top of the gate to up above my head over and over. I was trying to time it to where I could attach the notice without the dog grabbing my hand. But instead it looked like we were doing some weird synchronized meter reader/boxer dog hokey pokey dance.

I finally timed it to where she was on the ground and right before her next bounce I snapped the rubber band on the gate, I threw both hands above my head in victory and yelled "Yes!"

Next thing I see is the dogs back feet on top of the gate, I take a step backwards just as her front paws hit me right in the chest, I start zig zagging backwards towards my truck and the dog is zig zagging in front of me, lunging and snapping as she is forcing me backwards. Kind of like a we are now doing the two step, the only problem is I am not the one leading, and I really didn't go to this house to dance with this dog, but here I am making moves I didn't know that I could make.

My handy dandy meter key (Source) Tools of the trade
Up against my truck I reach into the back and grab my trusty meter key, now I have the boxers attention as we play Zorro, I slash zees through the air and the boxer does what boxer dogs do, she bounces on her back feet and throws her paws in the movements that gave this breed their name.

I worked my way to the drivers door and jumped into the truck, the dog bounced back over the fence and we sat there staring at one another, no blows were ever exchanged, so I suppose this bought could be called a draw, unless you want to give it to the dog for form, she did fly through the air briefly.

One of my customers was a motorcycle mechanic that was late on his bill frequently, a big guy who deep down was a good man, I always liked this guy. He knew exactly when his reminder notices were due and would chain his German Shepherd dog on the front porch making it impossible for anyone to get to his door.

Whenever I went to collect I would walk up, pat the dog on the head and knock on the door. He would open the door, laugh and say, Hell Jimmy I knew it had to be you because you are the only one he will let on the porch.

I had a newly appointed female supervisor, and one day she decided that she was going to ride along with me to see how well I knew my job. I had been a Customer service representative for a while and was doing collections on this particular day, she followed me up to each persons door and stood behind me to listen and take notes.

Before we ever got to the motorcycle mechanics house I told her, you need to stay in the truck and let me collect this one by myself. She responded, if you are going to the door, I will be right behind you.

I stopped in front of his house and told her. You really need to stay in the truck. She wanted an explanation, so I pointed to the dog.

First thing is I don’t think you can get past the dog, second thing is he is a pretty big dude and will answer the door in his underwear which will embarrass you, he will either pay me or he won't and if he doesn't I will shut off his water, simple as that. She told me there was no way I could know this and that she would be going up to his door, I just grinned.

She opened her door and started to get out of the truck. I said, for the last time you need to stay in the truck, she looked at me and said, you are forgetting who the boss is here. I replied, just remember I warned you.

I leaned on the truck and watched her strut up to the house, then I tried not to laugh as she ran back down the walkway with the German Shepherd barking at her heels, he chased her to the end of his chain.

She was yelling for me to call animal control, I didn’t say anything and walked right past her up to the dog, I patted him on the head and knocked on the door. Mr. Motorcycle Mechanic opened the door in his tightie whities and grinned saying, who's the gal in the truck? I told him it's my boss, she came out to see if I know what I'm doing, he laughed and said, I see she couldn’t get past the dog. As I said before I always liked this guy.

I guess the German Shepherd showed her who was boss, and no I did not call animal control, this dog liked me.