August 13, 2014

Of raccoons and relaxation (or, the summer of surf and turf)

Way too long since the last update, so just gonna pretend I didn't miss a beat, and share a few recent stories of our goings-on... 

Before. Pure bliss. 
The renovation process in our house finally came to a conclusion with the finishing touches of the landscaping. We put in a new flagstone path that wraps around the side of the house, built some big garden boxes for veggies, and, as a piece de le resistance...insta-lawn, baby! 400 (or so) square feet of thick, lush greenery, tying together all the pieces of our now-complete backyard oasis. My sister and her family, who were visiting from the UK, were among the privileged first few to lay eyes on all its unscathed perfection. Wait, unscathed? was there a scathing?

Enter... the raccoons.

There is no debate about their intelligence. There is no debate about their brazen approach. The only debate is whether I admire them or loathe them completely, after what they did to my pristine green, flat, weedless back lawn.
After the carnage... round #1

We had seen them in the yard a few times in the evenings. Two healthy, fat bumbly adults and three adorable babies in tow. For the record, I hold the kits free of any culpability; they just watched as their parents did the dirty work, far as I can tell.

The raccoons adapted nicely to our schedules. If we saw them, we hollered, threw things, sprayed them with the water gun... I even procured a vintage--and battle tested--slingshot from a colleague who spent days of her youth taking out squirrels in the boonies outside of Kamloops. But the raccoons learned pretty quickly not to come around if there was any sign of light or life in our house. And so, in the cover of night's darkeness and silence, they slipped into our yard and wreaked their havoc upon our sweet oasis, neatly rolling back freshly laid sod in search of the sweet worms and grubs they presumed to be beneath.

No, please, ignore me and drink up. 
You must be exhausted after all that tearing my lawn apart.

This whole issue had a real due date for resolution, as my household was going on vacation. What protections could we offer, what lawn could we replace, with no one really around?

Defences had to be established.

One bottle of coyote urine, a handful or rags, a trip to the home depot and 400 square feet of ski fencing and bird netting later, we had our best attempts in place. On hands and knees well into the night, we covered our new lawn completely, tacking it down as well as we could into the soft soil beneath. Soaking the rags in coyote pee, we placed them strategically at the perimeters. This is about the best one can do, to deter the critters, through scent and barriers to access; after all, raccoons cannot read--nor would they care about--a 'stay the f**$ off my lawn' sign.

I was hopeful to be able to use the slingshot against them--not to kill them, just help them associate my lawn with pain, is all--but those adorable vermin are now wise enough not to show during the day or dusk, as previously mentioned. I'm still waiting for my chance, but at this point, I think we're in the clear (I say with hesitance, perhaps). 
Defencing fencing... I think we're winning...

We came back from our vacation, and our sister in law, who has been living with us as she's knuckled down for med school exams--reported relatively positive results. The grass has mostly taken root, and any evidence of overnight visitors has evaporated.

If anyone needs a complete raccoon repellent system, please inquire within.

And, as for that vacation part? well, I won't type out many of the details. I'll let the video do the talking. long story short, a week plus of family and good friends in Quebec and Ontario respectively, lakeside accommodations, swimming, more swimming, train rides, plane rides and some half decent weather to boot.

Next up, school year starts again all to soon... presuming our teacher's strike in B.C. ever comes to an end... say, I think I just thought of the next blog post. But for now, more summer!