Slaughter of the innocents
I live in the woods. I expect the pitter-patter of tiny feet, four at a time, and the occasional rattle -thump when those four-footed nocturnal visitors fossick through the pots for grubs. I only object when they move into the house, although even then, if theyâ€™re polite and donâ€™t actually run across my feet or fill the place with poison gas, my general inclination is live and let live.
But something has been eating my motherâ€™s plants (my mother lives in a house at the far end of our deck.) Sheâ€™d like to think the culprit is some cute and fluffy scalawag, some misled squirrel or chipmunk that soon will see the error of its ways and move on. I, however, am pretty sure itâ€™s not cute, not unless your heartstrings are tugged by scaly tails, yellow teeth, and pointy noses.
Still, even rats have a right to do their thing, and once Iâ€™d hacked back the overhanging trees and they stopped doing the samba across the roof at night, they werenâ€™t bothering me too much. I did wish they would find something to eat other than my orange and lemon trees, which they denuded back to the trunks so that my deck has a lot of weird, modernistic sculptures sticking out of it, and I really wished theyâ€™d leave my motherâ€™s treasures the hell alone, but even that only made me buy sprays and powders guaranteed to slow them down at least five percent.
However, we now have reached the point where the Cycle of Nature is beginning to enter the equation. And since the way we humans live these days isnâ€™t exactly natural, this takes some adjustmentâ€”normally, as I say, on my part, but the time has come to ask Nature to nudge back a bit.
It was the bobcat that did it. Or rather, the two bobcats, one small (probably female) but one the size of a coyote, and neither of them in the least shy. They stroll across the lawn (in broad daylight, nothing nocturnal about these cats), they stare at you when you clap your hands at them, they only mosey off when you begin to throw things in their direction.
Theyâ€™re not going to attack anything as big as a human, these arenâ€™t mountain lionsâ€”and if they felt cornered or had their young threatened, well, even a cute and fluffy squirrel could be forgiven for attacking under those circumstances.
But theyâ€™re here during the day, and our cats (which we already lock up at night, for fear of providing the coyotes with dinner) might begin to look juicy to them.
Now, before you get all het up, Iâ€™m not proposing to trap, poison, shoot or otherwise harm a bobcat. Theyâ€™re gorgeous, and they have the right to live in the woods.
But I can discourage them from hanging around. Which means make them nervous about being here, and take away their food supply.
The first of those is a thing called a scarecrow motion activated sprinkler, which you put on the end of a hose and, when it senses motion, lets off a burst of noisy water on any deer, dog, cat, or unsuspecting human who passes in front of it. Great fun.
But the second is wholesale slaughter, cold-blooded murder, vicious entrapment.
In other words, Iâ€™m killing the rats. If thereâ€™s no prey for the bobcats, and if every time they wander through this thing jumps out at them and flaps and shoots out water, pretty soon theyâ€™ll begin to stay down at their end of the hill, hunting mice in the neighborâ€™s vineyard, and my own cats will again venture outside.
Thatâ€™s the theory. Iâ€™ll let you know how it goes.
(And now when you see me at an event or a conference, youâ€™ll think to yourself, Gee, that King woman doesnâ€™t look like a vicious killerâ€¦.)