That’s a good guess.  But, I’m not talking about my in-laws.  My in-laws are in fact pretty cool.  It’s all the critters that think our barn was built for them.  Our experience with barn intruders all began when our grain bins were dumped over several days in a row.  So, we assembled our first trap to catch the culprit.  Hilariously, the first thing we caught was a hen.  Oops.  It was soon freed once the children declared her innocent.  Next, we captured our barn cat!  Oops again.  Well, it turns out we were housing a family of raccoons and all their cousins.  Over the next couple of weeks, we became quite the ‘coon trappers and could have clothed our entire family with coonskin caps like frontiersman Davy Crockett and explorer Meriwether Lewis.  Our then 3 year old pitied one of the trapped overweight raccoons, so she colored a raccoon family picture and placed it on the cage as a gift.  Apparently, raccoons do not like coloring pages, or perhaps it’s that they don’t like their kind being colored all the colors of the rainbow.  The paper was completely shredded within 15 minutes.  Eventually, our bins did finally stay upright overnight and the traps were empty every morning.  Word must have spread quickly among the Hill Country brush that we had become ruthless trappers.  Or maybe it’s because we moved all our grain bins to the tack room and locked the door every night.  It doesn’t really matter why – we outsmarted those raccoons.  One problem solved.  Soon after, we were reminded of the predation-prey theory which we learned years ago in ecology class.  You see, our barn cats could not get in to the locked tack room but the mice could still find a way in through the cracks, and we were soon overrun with mice.  Sticky glue traps were the answer for those unwelcome guests.  Our success in eliminating the mice had one unfortunate consequence.  We actually almost lost one of the chicks being raised in the tack room.  It had escaped the brooder-ring and decided to test out how sticky the mousetrap really was.  I was able to free the thing even though most of its feathers remained behind (thankfully, feathers grow back and it’s now a fully feathered healthy hen).  Exhaustingly, our battle against unwelcome guests continues to this day.  Our barn is present-day home to the smelliest of all guests.  A skunk!  Oddly, it likes to spray our tractor wheel for some unknown reason.  We recently read advice that playing music in your barn will keep critters out.  So, we’ve been blaring continuous Christmas music for the past week in our barn.  Hopefully, the skunk shares views on Christmas that are similar to Mr. Grinch’s opinions (prior to his heart change!).  So, if you’re ever visiting the franch, and you start hearing Christmas music 24-7, it may be a sign you’ve overstayed your welcome.


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