Varmint update

The Varmintcam is perfect for capturing pictures of crows, squirrels, chickens, and the most unflattering views of Kevin and me I have ever seen. It’s either me bending over, or Kevin straining to lift something, or me picking my nose, or Kevin scratching that one part of him that always seems to itch. No matter what we’re doing, we always look fat.

Once, the camera caught him peeing in the woods, but that was a set-up.

What the Varmintcam doesn’t often catch is varmints. We’ve gotten some coyote pictures, and one good one of a raccoon’s rear end, but that’s been about it. So you can imagine my excitement when this one came up:

An opossum!

I have a special affinity for opossums, having had a stuffed one when I was a kid. From an adult vantage, it’s hard for me to imagine the meeting where the people at the stuffed animal company decided to make an opossum.

“How about a teddy bear?” one of them suggested.

“Nah, too cute and cuddly,” said another. “We want some realism here.”

So they went with a bad-tempered marsupial with scraggly fur and a long, hairless tail. I understand this was in addition to their line of maggots, slugs, and grubs.

However it came to be, I had a stuffed opossum. It was pretty dreadful to begin with, but after a few weeks its fur started coming out in clumps, so it looked like it was going through chemotherapy. Eventually it went completely bald.

Oddly, I remember it its being my favorite stuffed animal of all time. I named it, imaginatively, Pos, and carried it around with me until it was so shabby as to be unrecognizable. That was about forty years ago, so I can’t rely on my memory, but it seems to me that my childhood stuffed opossum looked remarkably like the one sniffing around the compost pile.

Some of the other stuffed animals that populated my childhood were a panda, an alligator, and my brother Aaron’s green pig, which my brother Jake and I used to stuff down Aaron’s baritone horn.

I don’t remember any teddy bears.

6 people are having a conversation about “Varmint update

  1. Alligators don’t strike me as on obvious choice for a child’s stuffed toy either! I vaguely remember a penguin (probably also not the cuddliest of creatures) from my childhood, but sadly no teddy bear.

  2. My eldest has a penguin (momento from visiting the Little Penguins at Phillip Island), and collectively they have a spider, a bat & a dragon (Ikea must have hired a goth stuffed toy designer for a brief time). I believe the dragon is still available, but not the others. We didn’t buy the rat for some reason, but I did buy the rat that was released with the first Harry Potter movie (needed it for christmas decorating).

  3. When I see your varmint cam pictures, I think i’ve GOTTA get one of those! I love your opposum. Can’t wait to see who turns up on the next show.

  4. Fiona — I don’t regret the teddy bear at all. I had an interesting menagerie, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

    Toria — Funny that both you and Fiona had a penguin. Although my little brother had something of a penguin fetish when he was a kid, I don’t remember a stuffed penguin. I love your assortment, though — spiders and bats and dragons.

    Jen — You GOTTA get one of those! You’d get way better varmints than I’ll ever get.

  5. hey I had an alligator too! I got it when I was five and named it Kaki. I think my parents got it for me for Christmas (okay, Santa brought it- alright?) because we’d gone to the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco and I had completely flipped out about the alligators. I used to grab Kaki by the tail and wale on my siblings until finally her head started to come off at the neck because she was tearing there. Good times, good times….

    Anyway, about your varmint! Do you read Novella Carpenter’s (of Farm City book fame) blog? Novella is farming a vacant lot next to her house in Oakland, CA. Anyway, she wrote in her book about finding all of her poultry dead because the opossum that did it felt like it, and she was so angered that she beat it to death with something handy. Then one of her neighbors, a woman, came over and offered Novella the use of her pistol, which she declined. If I remember correctly, she finished it by taking its head off with a shovel, with which she buried it.

    Opossums are bad news. Have you ever seen their teeth? They are scary, needle-sharp teeth. You might want to consider taking the offensive with this varmint before it gets your hens, or has babies. One of my sisters lives in SF near the Presidio and early one morning she saw an opossum wander through her backyard with its babies on its back. Needless to say, the first thing her husband did the next weekend was plug up every available squeeze space around the house and yard. She also had a skunk get her dog in the same back yard. You’d think that living in the city like that, you’d be free of varmints, but they don’t work like that…

  6. Paula — Thanks for the warning on the opossum. I had no idea they were a threat to the chickens. We do let our chickens roam free, in the perhaps naive view that the nocturnal predators will have the decency to wait until the chickens are in the run before they come out in search of food. I suspect it’s not the only possum we have, though — they’re road-kill pretty regularly.

    Love the alligator story.

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