Farm guests come in all shapes and sizes

WORTHINGTON — Mom breathed in a sigh of relief Saturday morning when she discovered she’d captured a masked bandit — rather than a single-striped bandit — in a live trap down on the family farm.

Yes, my mom took matters into her own hands when, for several nights straight, the previously unidentified bandit snuck onto the concrete patio and dined on the dry cat food meant for Tux, Cedo and Fluffy.

Not about to fatten up a raccoon — or worse yet, a skunk — the self-sufficient farm girl tried her hand at setting a live trap Friday night. She filled a can with cat food to lure in her prey and rigged up the trap, uncertain if she did it right.

The next morning, my phone rang.

“Guess what I did?” she asked with more than a hint of excitement in her voice.

When she told me about the coon she captured, I honestly couldn’t believe it. My mom? Setting a trap? It couldn’t be true!

I told her she had to take a picture of the critter. This story is bound to become family legend — it needed photographic evidence.

I was convincing; she took the photo.

When I told her I was scheduled to write a column for the paper this week and needed an idea, she groaned and said I didn’t need to write about her first trapping experience. Instead, she said I should write about Peapod.

Peapod is the neighborhood peacock, and by neighborhood, I mean that a neighbor bought a peacock, brought it home and it immediately took flight westward.

Mom has guaranteed it will stick around the Buntjer farm by feeding it cracked corn. The other day, she tossed out a granddaughter’s leftover chicken nuggets and Peapod ate those, too.

Through some brief research, I discovered peacocks are omnivores — they eat “almost anything: meat and vegetation,” according to Included in their diet is snakes.

That alone makes me happy that mom has forged a friendship with Peapod. My weekly lawn mowing job at the farm this summer has not been interrupted by a single blood-curdling scream at the sight of a garter snake.

Peapod has taken the place of my previous protector, my lovable mutt, Molly, who was also a snake slayer. Molly, though, left the snakes laying around as “gifts.” Peapod, on the other hand, has ensured a snake-free environment of both the slithering and deceased varieties.

Peapod is a wary bird who provides frequent entertainment for my mom. The latest incident, as she described, included Peapod charging at something, and then, all of a sudden, dancing backwards as though he couldn’t get away fast enough. Mom ended up going out to explore the situation and found a wild turkey in her garden.

Peapod was attempting to be territorial, though not at all successful. The turkey moved on out of boredom rather than fear.

After we lost Dad, I thought Mom might move into town — let someone else deal with the lawn mowing, the tree trimming, the building maintenance and the garden. It’s clear, though, that the farm is where she wants to be.

With Peapod to watch, cats to feed, visits by wild turkeys and deer, farm life is far more exciting than city living — especially when you have to trap a coon once in a while.