For the past 25 years or so I have lived on a small farm in South Rockdale County. It is South Rockdale County, y'all. I don't live in the boondocks. I can drive 2 miles in any direction and get a Confederate flag tattoo or a hair weave or buy a lottery ticket. So why in the world do I feel like I am living at Lion Country Safari? We have wildlife coming out of the ying-yang and the species are getting more and more exotic.
One morning a goose flew down my chimney. I was reading the newspaper and having a cup of coffee and all of a sudden it sounded like my chimney was being torn apart brick by brick. Suddenly a very dazed and confused goose, of the Canadian variety, emerged from the fireplace and flew all over the living room -- leaving soot and ashes everywhere it landed.
I did what any self-respecting Southern male would do. I opened the door and screamed for my lovely wife, Lisa, to come chase it out with a broom. Another time I was sitting at the kitchen table, again, reading the paper and enjoying a cup of coffee, when the ugliest dog I had ever seen wandered into my yard. Upon closer examination I realized that I wasn't looking at a dog at all, but a coyote. That was five or six years ago. Since then coyotes have become commonplace on our property. I often hear them howling in the distance at night and one disturbing evening a pack of them showed up in our front yard. Two of the critters started throwing themselves against our front door.
Maybe they heard we kept ducks in the house -- or perhaps a roadrunner.
Naturally we have more than our share of rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. You might think Chip and Dale are cute the way Disney draws them but try keeping them from burrowing in your front lawn and see how you like them.
We have raccoons, too, from time to time. Unless you are in the Davy Crockett hat production business you don't want a passel of raccoons hanging out in your yard. They get in the trash and eat the cat's food and make a general nuisance of themselves. They are kind of cute to look at, with their ringed tails and little Halloween masks and all. In fact, they are so cute that our dog treed one once, right off the back deck and I called my brother-in-law over to shoot it. You have to understand, my brother-in-law has hunted all his life and can shoot a deer at 300 yards and field dress that sucker before it gets cold, but even he couldn't bring himself to look that coon in the eye and pull the trigger.
We are overrun with deer. They might look like Bambi but they are a real nuisance when they eat all the vegetables it has taken us three months to raise. We have found possums on our back porch -- they just lie there and play dead until you poke them one too many times. Then they hiss and spit and generally try to scare you to death.
We've had hawks, owls, foxes, skunks -- and don't get me started on snakes. They are everywhere, and some of them look like harmless rat snakes, but I know they are all deadly cotton-mouthed-water-rattlers in disguise. In general, our little slice of rural America looks like the place Noah emptied the remains of his ark once all the big animals had disembarked.
But this week we got a brand new one. My mother-in-law, who lives next door to us, shot an armadillo -- not in her pajamas, but on her patio. An armadillo. In Texas they call them possum-on-the-half-shell and I have seen a few of them on the roadside with their feet in the air lately, but never thought for a minute that they had encroached on our little plot of paradise.
My mother-in-law is a better shot than Annie Oakley and has sent more than her share of squirrels into the great beyond. She makes great squirrel dumplings, by the way. But I am fairly certain she had never even seen an armadillo, much less contemplated shooting one. I asked her why she didn't just chase it off the patio with a broom instead of shooting it. She said the thought never crossed her mind. "Besides," she added, "if I had run him off he would have just come back, and I was scared of him."
Not as scared, apparently, as the armadillo should have been of her. I asked her if she got him with the first shot. She said she shot him with her shotgun first. When that didn't faze him she got out her .22 and sent the unfortunate creature to meet his maker.
In case you are wondering, she said armadillo tastes just like chicken. And for you folks who are against shooting armadillos -- don't tell me, tell Bitzi. Or maybe you should tell the critters to stay off her patio.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.