Down on the Farm / Up at the Cabin

After-hour Adventures (There are no after-hours on a farm)


Monica can be a very sound sleeper. There have been many nights when Claudia climbed the stairs from her living space (basement) to Monica’s (first floor):

Knock, knock, knock. “Monica, wake up! Someone has been mooing for 20 minutes.” Indigo had delivered her first calf at 2:00 A.M. and she wanted to show it off.

Knock, knock, knock. “Monica, wake up! The chickens are screaming!” A fox had broken into the coop.

Knock, knock, knock. “Monica, wake up! The cows are making a racket.” Half the herd had broken out of the pasture into the neighbor’s cornfield and the other half complained LOUDLY that it wasn’t fair.

Knock, knock, knock. “Monica, wake up! There’s a critter under my bed.”

Now, Monica is one tough cookie. Runny spring cow manure and mud leaking into her worn-out muck boots doesn’t bother her. Goat afterbirth smeared all over her shirt and arms doesn’t faze her. Trying to tuck a chicken’s prolapsed uterus back into place doesn’t make her blink twice.

But snakes and rodents just give her the creepy crawlies.

Technically, opossums aren’t rodents. They are marsupials – like kangaroos. But they sure look more like large rats than kangaroos.

We knew there were opossums on the farm. Rarely we would see one scamper along the tree line. Occasionally, we’d find evidence of their thievery (empty broken eggshells) in the laying boxes. Once, Monica even got to pet an opossum when she reached into a laying box for an egg and felt fur instead of feathers. Did you know that possums hiss when they are upset? The neighbors (two miles away) probably heard that scream!

Monica was awake. “What do you mean, there is a critter under your bed?”

“I think an opossum came through the cat door and ate all the cat food. Then – looking for more – wandered all the way through the downstairs and couldn’t figure out how to get back outside.”

Getting out of bed, Monica said, “Okay. Let me get the .22.”

Claudia returned downstairs – how to get the critter outside? No way would we move it from the bedroom to the hallway, past the laundry room and the kitchen, through the living room and screened porch, onto the lawn. We had no problems moving 20 cows where we wanted them (goats were a bit trickier). But a single opossum in the middle of the night would be a challenge.

By the time Monica clomped down the stairs in her knee-high muck boots (the good ones), Claudia was ready. The other back door (thankfully just beyond Claudia’s bedroom) was propped open. All downstairs doors were tightly shut. The halls were blocked off. And Claudia was armed with the longest broom she could find.

Monica stationed herself outside the back door, 0.22 in hand, thigh-length nightshirt flapping in the breeze (picture Elmer Fudd). Claudia returned to the bedroom – also in muck boots and nightshirt – broom at the ready (picture Lucille Ball).

Poke, prod, poke under the bed. Hiss, hiss was the answer.

Poke, prod, poke. Hiss, hiss.

Claudia was going to have to get on her hands and knees and actually look under the bed to deliver more accurate blows.


With the opossum in sight, Claudia was able to poke and prod more effectively. (Don’t come this way! Please, don’t come this way!!)

Finally, the opossum waddled out of the bedroom, down to the back door, and out onto the lawn. Monica dispatched him before he could scurry away.

Needless to say, getting back to sleep after all that was a challenge, but we had another great farm story to share with all of our suburbanite friends!