Our backyard is now the Official Lover's Lane for raccoons. They are courting and fornicating like rabbits! Never saw that in the seven years they’ve been hanging around our home, so I guess that means our yard is now the number one safe place to raise babies.
The raccoons born last year are now on their own, and show up after dark for their supper. They huddle by my porch door and peek in through the windows, looking for me. Last night Herman was nose to nose with one who was craning his neck to look around his royal floofy-ness to find me. When I stepped outside with a bowl full of kibble, the youngster stood on his back legs and walked toward me with his paws outstretched.
I don’t hand out sugary treats as a rule. A couple summers ago I had a young raccoon named Sugarman who turned into a sugar freak. He ignored the kibble and ate only cookies, twisting them apart, licking out the crème center, and tossing the cookie part aside. Yikes! Instead of foraging, he stayed in my yard all day long, his chin resting on his paws, waiting for me to step outside. He would see motion in the windows and run to the porch and tap at the door. Double Yikes! So now sugary foods are reserved for special treats.
Ray occasionally brings home food left over from meetings. Muffins, bagels… A container of pancakes from a breakfast meeting. When he arrived with a huge pan of rice, and another of Chinese veggies, I said the rice would be eaten, but not the veggies. He put them out anyway. The next morning the rice was all over the yard. It looked like it had snowed. But the veggies were still in the pan, untouched. By the following morning even the rice was gone thanks to the two possums that live in my yard: a male that looks about #15 and a female half his size. I assume we will play host to baby possums along with baby raccoons in the near future.
Earlier this week it was super cold when I fed my outside cats. They greeted me at the door and escorted me to the tented portion of the porch where they live during winter. As I stepped inside, I saw the male possum standing on the large carpet remnant, hunkered over a plate of leftover kibble. When he saw me, he stopped in mid-chew, but didn't move. He’s shy, of course, but it was cold and he was clearly hungry. I said, "Hello, Handsome," like I always do when I see him. I then put the cat plates down by the door. As the cats gathered around the plates to eat their dinner, Handsome resumed eating his kibble, his bare toes snuggy-warm on the carpet.
And finally...this morning we watched a squirrel stuff damp leaves into her mouth and carry them up the 100 foot high hickory tree. She returned again and again for more. She must have found a great notch in the tree to build her nest.
Watching the wild life prepare for spring makes the cruddy days of February and March almost bearable... as long as I play host to raccoon, possum and squirrel babies, and not kittens. No (please God!) no kittens this spring!