Living with critters has been a way of life as long as I can remember.
The roll call (exclusive of birds and pets) in my childhood neighborhood included horned toads, other lizards, red ants, tarantulas, terrapins, toads, crawdads and rabbits. Though we were in a suburban style neighborhood, it was near the edge of town with a big field backing up to it.
The nearby creek’s population of crustaceans was greatly reduced through the use of string and bacon.
Other encounters over the years have included a snake and a skunk in our North Miller Street yard in Decatur and a family of raccoons dining on our dog food in Duncanville. As I recall, that skunk met its demise at the hands of the DPD somewhere over by Allsup’s. We had a second run-in with a skunk in Henrietta and had reports from neighbors of deer and rattlesnakes but never witnessed either.
So it was no surprise that the wildlife log at our place a few miles north of town would include a couple dozen turkey, a few deer, at least one roadrunner, raccoon and jackrabbit, plus some cottontails, coyotes, an assorted variety of lizards and snakes (including one young copperhead so far in almost three years) and the requisite variety of spiders (including black widows and brown recluse), ants and other bugs, including one of my favorites, the scorpion.
I’m particularly partial to their pincers and stingers after being bounced out of the top bunk one night at summer church camp.
And that copperhead led to a heightened desire for cats or guineas.
We’ve also seen a few mice and trapped a few moles whose destructive tunnels got too close to our gardening efforts. And then there’s my wife’s favorite – the armadillo.
She’s accosted him with a garden hoe and wants to trap him and remove him, or just shoot him.
Since I’m averse to firearms near occupied housing and don’t much care to get into the armored mammal relocation business, I’m OK with not having to aerate the yard. He’s doing it for me just fine. If we could get some decent rains, he would mostly leave us be. But with the last two summer’s dry spells, we’ve got about the only green going nearby, and our organic procedures surely help with a healthy crop of whatever he’s digging up.
Maybe the first time I suffer a twisted ankle in one of his holes, I will change my attitude. Since he’s nocturnal, we rarely see him. I think I had one early morning encounter last year but haven’t laid eyes on him this year.
Perhaps my time around Austin in the ’70s, when the armadillo was one of the ubiquitous symbols of a memorable era, makes me a little nostalgic and not too anxious to see him meet his demise. My fellow gardener doesn’t share those memories, or sentiments, so the debate is ongoing.
But just in case, if anyone actually has a desire to house one of these modern day mini-dinosaurs, give me a call, and we’ll make a deal.