A few people have questioned the wisdom, and the safety, of feeding wild animals in our yard. Let me just assure you that although I enjoy it, and benefit from it, it wasn’t my idea! The animals were already roaming this hill before I came here. The skunks, opossums, coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, mice, stray cats, and dogs were scrounging this section of land for bits of food before I showed up with that highly prized gourmet delight- garbage!
That is what happened at first. The animals raided the compost heap and the garbage sacks. They left a trail of coffee grounds and egg shells all over the ground. They tore up any paper they came across. They licked cans. They generally just made a mess! Then I noticed the raccoons and opossums finishing off any cat food left on the porch. Then the raccoons started climbing the posts and trees to raid the bird feeders I hung. One night Gary and I saw a program on television about a man who feeds the neighborhood raccoons dog food. I thought that was a great alternative to bird seed and cat food, especially if it allowed me to dictate where they ate it.
I admit that I foolishly let the raccoons eat on the front porch last fall because I wanted to watch them and photograph them. That terrified the stray cat that eats out there, and it probably just wasn’t a good idea to let them get that accustomed to being near the house. The opossum still eats the leftover cat food, but I don’t think I care what that ugly thing is doing…sorry. Ick. The skunks no longer approach the yard. I’m not sure why, but I’m grateful.
Anyway, I’m rambling in my own defense, but I wanted you to know that this summer things are perfectly perfect. I feed the raccoons in the backyard under the security light where I can usually photograph them through the window. Since I started giving them our vegetable and fruit leftovers plus a cup of dog food, they don’t raid the compost heap or the garbage. They seldom bother with the bird feeders. They just eat and go back to the woods.
I did figure out that the female has her babies in the woods, not under the house. I think the few times that she went under there she was just exploring future options! Anyway, I’ve seen her arrive dozens of nights by the same trail from the corner of the pasture, and last night she brought her little brood with her. Yep! Three tiny ones followed mom to dinner. Unfortunately it was too late and dark for pictures! Mom usually arrives by 8:15, but I’m sure it took her a while to get the little ones organized and they are probably a tad bit slow at this stage in their lives. They didn’t show up until nearly nine. I hope tonight they are a little earlier so I can get some decent shots. They are so very cute!!
So…I just wanted you to know that I didn’t arrive up here and decide to put out the welcome mat for all the neighborhood critters. I just like to live in harmony with my neighbors and they like to eat. As long as I remember that they are wild, and respect their ways, I think we will continue to coexist. Of course the big brown field mouse that showed up at the bird feeder last night better remember that there is still a mouse trap under my sink! I have to draw a line somewhere!