Subourbon Mom


Playing Opossum (Beware: sensitive content)
January 28, 2021, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Country Living, Misc. Humor | Tags: , , ,
Peaceful, country living….what I thought it would be all the time.

Some of you may remember my old blog post about trying to humanely euthanize a chipmunk.  Well, apparently that’s a life lesson that I’m not getting right because it keeps happening. First it was a baby rabbit, then the chipmunk, and now an opossum.

But first let me tell you, my city-dwelling and suburban friends, there are a few things you have to get used to when you move out to the country:

  1. The number of guns casually (or purposefully) left by front and back doors
  2. The volume of sound that woodland insects and frogs produce from March to November; whoever called it “night music” clearly never tried to sleep with their windows open
  3. The number of leaves that drop in the fall – sometimes it can be mesmerizing, like falling, brown snow; then you remember you have to shove them all back into the woods where they belong, like the arborial warrior you are.
  4. Snuffling and coughing from those pesky Virginia allergies because you simply must enjoy hours of amazing bonfires (and because some HOA said we couldn’t have them for 15 years so, dammit, we’re burning every weekend)
  5. The number of critters that don’t care that you would prefer that they stay away from your precious piece of land: bugs, “nope-ropes,” (snakes), mice, trash pandas and coyotes, just to name a few.

Which brings me back to numbers one and five in the list, and the opossum.

One day this fall, I was watching the dogs bark at something in the woodpile.  I figured it was a nope-rope because Lily the Terrified has been bitten at least four times. Honestly, I was just happy she was outside. For weeks she and her sister Holly, Opener of Packages, had been staying inside because Lily was scared of falling acorns. 

Back to the woodpile.  

An hour later, I was pulling the car out of the garage when I noticed something lying in our gravel driveway.  It was an adult opossum. The poor thing had been eviscerated but was still breathing. This was beyond just “playing possum” – the end was obviously near.  

After I got done cussing the dogs out, who were standing by waiting for praise after their conquest, I ran through my options:

  1. Go back inside and make dinner without using butter or anything else from my list (not an option – I would never be able to leave an animal suffering out there like that);
  2. Run over the poor beastie with the car (not a chance – it was facing the wrong way, and that would have been even more cruel);
  3. Put it in the freezer like I did with the chipmunk and let it pass away quietly, but who knows how long that would take and I didn’t want Hubby making fake opossum calls to me saying it’s “C-c-cold” again; or,
  4. Whack it with the shovel and throw the body in the woods.  

I opted for the shovel.

I’ll spare you the details, but it took more than one whack for the job to be over.  I’m the world’s worst executioner.  For the record, I said a prayer, apologized and told the opossum I was just trying to make things end faster.  

Later, I called a friend who lives a few miles down the road and told her the story.  She asked, “Did you shoot it?”

Um, no…. because I don’t own a gun.  Even if I did, with my luck I’m pretty sure the bullet would ricochet off the gravel and into me.

Talk about roadkill.

So there you have it folks – before you make the brave move out into the wilderness, life will be different. But for so many reasons, and not just for critter problems, buy a shovel. There are days when you’re going to have to dig your way out of whatever adventure came that day.

*Note: I purposefully didn’t post any cute pictures of opossums because it would make the story so much worse.   



Flying Snakes and Other Animals That Freak Me Out

Every now and then God throws an animal into the mix just to mess with us. One of His favorite things to do must be to mix up combinations of animals that don’t make sense, and see what happens.  The platypus comes to mind first, and then maybe the mole, or even the jack-a-lope.

But I didn’t see the flying snake thing coming.  Apparently I haven’t been watching the right Animal Planet shows—no one ever went into some piece-of-crap hoarder’s house and found snakes soaring among the rafters in Animal Cops, Houston.

Scientists have been studying how certain snakes can fly—not just drop down onto people from trees like a drunk teenager toilet papering somebody’s house. These things deliberately jump from a tree and land on another branch, or their prey.

Now, I’ve heard of flying squirrels—shoot, our local baseball team has it as their mascot (How intimidating—“Yep, I’m a big fan of The Squirrels.  They’re pretty fierce this year.”)—and sure, I knew there were water moccasins that would drop out of trees onto their prey.  Definitely scary-movie enough to make me stay away from all overhanging trees when I’m fishing.

Sorry, if one of those things came winging at me through the air, the last thing I’d be thinking about is “Hey, I wonder how they do that?” I’d be freaking the f**ck out!

As I said, scientists have been studying the physics of how these snakes manage to fly without appendages. They used big science terms like “vortex,” and “lift forces,” but what I took away from that is, these reptiles look a lot less like dragons flying through the air than the snakes my preschoolers cut out of paper plates.

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Eeeeewwwwwww…

I’m sure Darwin would make some rational explanation about adapting and being an evolved species, but on this one I’m leaning toward creationism: I think God looked at the snake and said, “Not only are you going to make them eat the apple, little snake, but you’re going to make them soil their cute little fig leaves afterward by flying at them. That’ll teach my pesky children to disobey Me.”

So where are these snakes?  They are found in lowland areas of Southeast and Southern Asia.  That may be their natural habitat, but if Lionfish and those monster pythons can get to Florida via hurricane and pet stores, I’m not taking any chances.  I’m thinking of moving to Arizona. At least rattlers are courteous enough to warn you before they strike.



Princess and the Pee

Coming back to reality after Spring Break—a snow storm in March (Are you kidding me?) naturally sucks. Coming home to find the cats have spite-peed on your daughter’s bed REALLY sucks.

And it’s also kind of funny, in a twisted way.  Just stick with me on this one.

In my house, the pets have aligned themselves with family members.  Hubby gets the psycho kitty we nursed from the time she was 3 days old; Daughter #2 has the beast in the barn; Daughter #1 gets Isabella FATrice (Izzy), our pudgy, orange cat who treats everyone like staff; and by default, I get The Dog.  Never mind the fact that I’m the one who gets up at six EVERY MORNING to feed them and let them out. For the most part, they simply tolerate me.

If Izzy (the orange cat) were to be on the game Survivor, she would probably be voted out near the end—she’s a leader who gets things done by being vocal and acting like she’s in charge, but in the end, it’s The Dog who would win, because The Dog flies under the radar, also getting what she wants but without the attitude.

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The Dog: note the super-soft blanket and matching manicure (thanks Aussie Pet Mobile!) as she lounges on my side of the couch.

For years I’ve been secretly jealous of Daughter #1 and her relationship with the princess pussycat.  It is like being in middle school all over again.  The popular girls (Daughter #1 and Izzy) hang out exclusively, draped all over each other, gossiping and messing with each other’s hair.  If I come in with some silly request like, “Please take the sheets off your bed so I can wash them,” I am met with an irritated meow. Pushing up my glasses (these days they’re “cheaters”), I retreat to the unpopular kids’ table (i.e. my room) and sulk.  I’m clearly the lowest creatures on the social totem pole in our house (except for maybe the fish). By asking Daughter #1 to move Izzy, I have clearly imposed my presence on the popular girls’ space.

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See? She even looks like a Mean Girl!

But as I took a bath on our first night home to ease my quads that were still burning from all the Spring Break hiking and zip-lining, I heard Daughter #1 through the wall:

Daughter #1: “Oh my God! Mooooooooommm!”

Me: (silence—I was ignoring them—bath time is sacred)

Daughter #1:  “You guys, come in here and look at this!” (thumping as Daughter #2 enters the room.)

Daughter #2 starts laughing.

Both Girls:  “Moooooooom!” (still silent)    “Daaaaaaaad!”  (also wisely silent)

Me: (I sigh and get out of the tub, knowing the alternative is a visitor, and all the bubbles have gone—always awkward.)

When I got to Daughter #2’s room she is nearly in tears.  Apparently, despite having a litter box handy the whole time we were gone, one or both of the cats spite-peed in her bed—a massive puddle that told me they’d been saving for at least a couple of days. (The Dog hd been farmed out to my mom’s.)

I looked at the clock—it was late, and I was NOT going back to the store.  So, I looked on-line for what I could use in the house, and quickly made up the extra bed for Daughter #2.  (I’ve copied the instructions below, in case anyone else ever has this issue—it worked!!)

The upside of the whole event was watching the Popular Girl drama play out over the next couple of days.  Izzy was banned from Daughter #1’s presence, sitting outside the bedroom, meowing, looking miserable and triumphant at the same time, like the best friend of the popular girl who managed to steal the popular girl’s boyfriend—the victory was soooo worth the short-term social ostracism to follow.  When that didn’t work, Izzy switched “besties” and went to Daughter #2’s room. She took to hanging out there, sleeping on Daughter #2’s stomach all night. Daughter #2 was happy enough to have the company, but she’s never needed approval from the popular crowd.

Even though Daughter #1 might not admit it, Izzy’s defection bugged her. Eventually, she relented, and Izzy was accepted back into the popular girl club’s good graces, trailing after Daughter #1 all day like a remora near a shark, making mean-girl comments to anybody who walked by (me).

Now, if the cat does it again and I can’t get the stench out, the she will be expelled, or at least placed in some serious detention. But until then, I’ll just keep hovering in the social wings of our pet-centered home, hoping that maybe The Dog will let me have my spot back on the couch.

Here’s the recipe from Animal Planet for de-funking cat pee (it really worked!):

  1. Blot dry or if already dry, get wet with water and blot dry the excess urine.
  2. Soak with mixture of water and vinegar. Vinegar is great for killing bacteria. This mixture is perfect for both old and new stains. Try 1 1/2 cups of warm water and a ½ cup of vinegar. Pour this concoction over the stain and soak for about 3 to 5 minutes. Note: vinegar is not good for marble or stone.
  3. There’s nothing like good all-purpose baking soda. After the water and vinegar solution is dry, sprinkle the area with baking soda. How much is enough? A lot.
  4. You’re not done just yet with the homemade remedies. Mix 3/4 cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide (you know you have some under your bathroom sink) with 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. Sprinkle this solution over the baking soda and test a small spot. You need to do this because sometimes peroxide can discolor or bleach fabrics (source). Work the baking soda into the fabric or carpet.
  5. It’s time to let the mixtures dry for a few hours (I did 36 hours). Once the spot’s good and dry, vacuum the excess baking soda. If the stain is extremely tough, repeat the entire process again.
  6. If homemade mixing is not your thing, there are commercial products on the market that work well too. Make sure to look for cleaners that contain enzymes because they work to break down the urine and neutralize the odor (source). Make sure you follow the instructions carefully on these products.
  7. Just because you can’t see the stain, doesn’t mean you can’t smell the stain. Deodorizing must be part of the equation. Once again, baking soda and a mixture of detergent and water will help minimize odors.



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