You can’t face the daily media blitz — newspapers, TV, radio, internet sites, device messages — without having some sort of conflict dumped on your mind.
Saber rattling around the world between nations sometimes seems to resemble the constant squabbling among siblings in most families because, well, kids will be kids. Thefts, assaults, shootings, arrests and sadly, sometimes much worse, are reported multiple times daily. They result from issues as diverse as serious crimes of intent to silly neighborhood squabbles. Some days, I’ve just heard enough and simply push the “off” button.
Of course, the Scriptures remind us that there will always be wars, and rumors of wars. And the hourly reports of happenings around the world underline the fact that none of that is likely to ever change.
Actually, right here on our farm, we have daily conflict as well. Ours is more of the two-legged versus four-legged type of petty disputes, or sometimes two-legged versus two-legged, or four-legged versus four-legged.
Just this morning, I spotted two of the young steers I’m feeding going at it. Like a pesky big brother, a somewhat larger steer was ramming his head into a smaller one, for seemingly no reason, except “just because.” I wasn’t about to shinny over the head gate to separate the pair, since both outweigh me considerably. So I did what most moms do under the circumstances.
“Knock it off!” I yelled at the larger steer. ... You know how much good that did. More effective was the delivery of a giant armful of fresh hay, a diversionary tactic which rarely fails to distract cattle.
Meanwhile, our feisty Leghorn hen was pecking at a couple of cats, chasing them away from a container of morning-feeding milk. “Pecking order” isn’t apparently just an in-species attitude.
From there, I trudged to the first pond to check the status of my latest assault-attempt on a furry, four-legged, masked intruder. The raccoons that have taken up residence in some of our old outbuildings are destructive, creative, relentless, and, like cats, seem to have nine lives, which help them survive attempts to eradicate them.
After one disposed of two of our tame, gentle hens, I’ve been saber-rattling at the resident raccoons, which repeatedly make a complete fool of me and the catch-traps I’ve repeatedly set. I’ve set them in various spots around the old barn and the calf nursery, where they continue to break into the closed, cat-food containers. And, we’ve yet to snag a single raccoon.
One recent evening, I found the stash of fish food kept at the pond — stored in a sealed, plastic container, under a bucket weighted down with a brick — gone. Missing. No sign of it anywhere. The culprit had to be one of the raccoons whose giant tracks turn up regularly on the field road.
I hot-footed it to the calf nursery, carted the humane trap to the pond pier and baited it with a small, sealed plastic container containing some fish food.
When that didn’t work, I tried baiting the trip with the fish-food container originally raided. The next morning, the trap — snapped with the bait still intact — had been dragged out onto the lawn. The raccoon(s) won yet another round.
On the other hand, we seem to be having more success in the battle over the raspberries. They grow in abundance beneath the black walnut trees that continue to take over more and more of the meadow fencerow. Timely rains and a bit of pruning I did in early spring have yielded a wealth of fat, juicy berries.
For the last two years, a running battle with the mockingbirds and catbirds that claim the meadow as home left us practically berry-less. The moment a raspberry would turn from dark red to ripe blackness, one of those feathered berry-lovers swooped down and snatched it. We barely got enough for a taste on our cereal.
Surely, I figured, the gregarious mockingbird that now sits on the electric wire across the backyard on a daily basis, serenading us with its repertoire of songs, was just putting in time until those berries ripened. But, repeated trips to the patch have yielded pickings of the tasty fruit, and I’ve harvested them absent the screeching from overhead that accompanied every visit there last year.
Why are the birds avoiding the raspberries this year? Who knows? But, at least for the moment, we’re enjoying the fruits of winning at least one battle.