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Life is wild in the backyard

By Merrill Ogden - | Apr 17, 2024

Backyards are an important part of life in Sanpete. Many of us spend significant amounts of time in that “private park” behind our homes. Many Sanpeters live out in the country away from structured towns. Their entire property is like a backyard.

Backyard space is more than a “park” or “playground” for most of us. Even though those functions are important. When kids are growing up, the playground function might actually be the most important one.

Backyards are also gardens, orchards, clotheslines, dog runs, basketball courts, and, in Sanpete, “wild life preserves.” At least that’s how it is in my backyard.

I’ve shared here before about “close encounters of the skunk kind” some of which have occurred in my backyard. Recently, the smelly evidence of a skunk was in the night air. I was wary when I went outside, but luckily had no encounter.

Skunks aren’t the only animal visitors we get in our backyard. No, I’m not going to tell you about “animals” of the neighborhood children variety. I’ll save that topic for another day.

You’re probably thinking that I’m going to talk about deer now. Well, why not? I’ve got lots of stories. Everyone in Sanpete has deer in the yard stories.

We do get our share of the “muleys” in our neighborhood. Some of them act like they own the place. But when it’s time to run away, they sometimes forget about the chain link fence.

They seem almost embarrassed (it’s really “dazed”) when they pound into the fence and then have to gather themselves up to trot out to the street. I feel like they’re thinking, “Geez, I hope no one saw me do that klutzy thing.” (Just like I feel when I fall down)

The other night I had four does grazing in my front yard. I shoo’ed them away. There’s no garden in the yard at this point. So that’s not a worry. But there are some ornamental bushes that need protecting with a commercial “deer away spray.”

However, even without a garden, there has been some deer damage the past few months. The deer have gnawed the bark off and broken two new, little peach trees in the backyard. They were planted last fall.

I know. I know. It’s my fault. I didn’t build a “prison fence” around them like smart people do. I know I should have.

All of this has made me think of a memorable night years ago when I noticed rustling in the garden corn. Four raccoons were at work doing an early harvest. I clapped my hands and three of the little rascals scurried away. The fourth ‘coon paid no attention to me.

He was standing up tall on his hind legs leaning into a corn stalk having a late-night meal. He was a big boy.

I’m pretty sure this garden raider was a male. A girl raccoon would have had more manners than this punk. He kept right on munching on a cob of corn. I gave a yell. No response.

I figured this brazen beast deserved what happened next. No – I didn’t have a firearm handy. What I did was pick up half of a brick that was lying by the side of the garden. I went “raccoon bowling.” I underhanded that brick, lofted it, and caught that trespasser right in the chest.

The noise he gave upon impact sounded like I knocked the breath out of him. He picked himself up off the ground and looked at me as if to say, “What did you do that for? And, who do you think you are, dork?”

I clapped my hands again and “invited” him to leave with some appropriate (or inappropriately appropriate) language. He finally took the hint and scampered away. (Please don’t sent this column to PETA)

Sometimes sharing the garden, young trees and shrubs with the varmints gets frustrating. But I have to remember that it “comes with the territory.” I love country living. And country living means sharing space with wildlife.

I hope you have as much fun in your back yard as I do in mine. Fun is where you find it. And sometimes you just don’t have to travel very far for it. — Merrill


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