Raccoons are a nuisance. Opossums aren’t exactly little angels either — they’ll kill a chicken if given the opportunity — but we rarely blame them for messes caused by nighttime mayhem. When we wake up in the morning to find the trash can raided or a forgotten bird feeder mutilated, we’re 99.9% sure a raccoon was the culprit.

Because of these critters, Farmer John brings our hanging wild bird feeder inside when he goes out at dusk to secure the henhouse, and we’ve begun keeping a heavy cement brick atop the trash can.

It probably makes the raccoons angry. I’m assuming so, anyway, since it seems like irritable is a raccoon’s normal emotional state. We’ve spent many an evening listening to two or three of them wrestle and fight outside our open windows, all snorts and growls and screeches.

In mid-summer, when our melons are ripening, we’re forced to secure the crop with five lines of electric fencing because of raccoons. If only they chose to be polite about their nocturnal visits to the melon patch, we might be more willing to share. But no. They claw and chomp and toss things around without exhibiting any common decency whatsoever. They don’t even bother finishing the first melon before moving on to ruin the next, and the next, and the next. So we zap ‘em.

Hard squashes are occasionally targeted by raccoons, as well, yet not usually attacked so viciously. This fall, the hard squash crop wasn’t much bothered at all — which made it all the more surprising when we discovered raccoons (and we’re certain they were raccoons) had trampled sections of our 200-foot bed of Euro mix.

The animals weren’t interested in eating it (which is beyond the comprehension of all us Euro salad lovers here at the farm); they simply wanted to fight each other in it. At least that’s how it appeared and weirdly so, considering in that section of the farm, the Euro mix row is the only one kept under cover.

This means the raccoons jumped over one row of cover crop and the row of Asian greens to commence their scuffle. And a scuffle it was, for sure, one that progressed in intervals directly down that shade cloth-covered row, smashing whole sections of beautiful, healthy baby salad mix

to filthy, flattened smithereens.

Whether these portions of our Euro row will recover is yet to be seen. Our house is too far from this part of the farm for us to have heard the commotion as it was happening, else we might have been able to stop it. Because if there’s one thing raccoons are not, it’s subtle. When they’re cross or annoyed, they express their outrage — loudly — to anyone within earshot.

They’d fit in well on social media sites. A couple years ago, I caved in to peer pressure and joined Facebook (or as Farmer John calls it, The MyFace). I set up a business page for the farm, and also a personal page for me. While I do post often from the farm page, other than putting up vacation pictures and occasionally commenting or hitting the “like” button on other people’s posts, my personal page is pretty quiet.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading what others have to say. In fact, I scan The MyFace regularly. It can be pretty darned entertaining, really. It can be pretty darned frustrating, too, and was especially so during the past several months leading up to the election. It’s amazing how vitriolic people can become. Would they have said such hateful things to other people face-to-face, or can they only do it MyFace-to-MyFace?

Well, now that the votes are in, perhaps most folks will calm down a bit. While obviously not everyone is happy with how the election turned out, wouldn’t it be grand if the nasty MyFace comments would cease for good? Of course people should continue to engage in civilized discussion. Everyone has their own opinion. And despite the fact that posts are seen only by those who’ve been “friended,” there’s no denying that a certain number of most people’s MyFace “friends” are casual acquaintances, at best, some of whom undoubtedly feel differently about the issues than themselves.

So when I read one of my acquaintance’s post-election post (sorry…couldn’t help myself) claiming that anyone who didn’t vote for her candidate did so out of “stupidity,” I was afraid it was only the beginning of more online fighting.

Happily, that seems not to be the case. There’s still time, of course, but thus far it appears The MyFace is once again a fairly peaceful place to visit, one where folks are free to express their feelings yet do so without resorting to provocation and name-calling. I hope it can stay that way.

There are enough real raccoons in the world. We don’t need to start behaving like them too.

* * *

Know what’s peaceful? Vegetables! And we’ll have lots of them for you at Wednesday’s stand. Here’s what we’re planning to bring:

White cauliflower, head lettuces (Butterheads, Romaine, Red leaf and Crisp head), lettuce mix, spinach, bulk purple and golden beets, Tendersweet and Farao cabbages, bunches of chard, Dinosaur kale, curly kale, Brussels greens, bags of arugula, escarole, yellow bell peppers, green bell peppers, Nubia and Beatrice eggplant, kohlrabi, pink and purple radishes, zucchini, Zephyr squash, some tomatoes (we never have a slew in the fall, but we will have quite a few more than last week!), and some of this and that.

Thanks!
Jo Dwyer

Angel Valley Organic Farm

Farm stands:

Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and

Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)

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