The so-called "occupy" movement has swept across every section of this great land of ours, spreading even to the humble farm where I grew up.
The presence of our occupiers came to light when I went to Mom's place to look for something. I discovered that an unused cattle yard near the silo contained glaring evidence of a massive occupation, including a network of well-worn paths - some of which were large enough to qualify as superhighways - in the weeds. There were also other, more-odious signs.
It quickly became clear that those responsible for this mess were nothing but disgusting animals. The kind of freeloading varmints who wear masks and leave disarray in their wake with not a jot of consideration for the hard-working property owner.
The clues left no room for doubt. We were saddled with a rabble of occupying raccoons!
This caused me to recall an incident Mom had recently related. One evening, she said, there was a ruckus out on her deck. She went to investigate and saw that her cat, Crazy, was backed up against the house. The kitty was growling and hissing and every fiber of her fur was standing on end.
A few feet away stood two raccoons. They were greedily eyeing Crazy's cat food - and perhaps even casting gluttonous glances at Crazy herself!
The masked bandits scampered off into the darkness when they saw Mom. When she later related the event, I chalked it up as merely a visit from some random roving raccoons. Certainly nothing to worry about.
That opinion changed as I studied the overwhelming proof of our enormous raccoon infestation. Scattered scatological evidence indicated that the ring-tailed rascals were gorging on the rotting corn that remained at the bottom of the silo.
The vast amount of "sign" left behind by the squatters indicated that evicting them might be a bigger job than I cared to tackle. I thus decided to find a professional and take out a contract.
The next day I drove to a dingy, dusty building that's a reputed haunt for characters who are "in the know." The aging wooden structure is home to a business that reportedly accepts some mind-boggling wagers. It's not uncommon, I've been told, for many thousands of dollars to change hands in a single transaction.
I strolled nervously into the main office of the grain elevator, trying my best to appear nonchalant. A couple of grungily dressed men looked up from their quiet conversation and greeted me with silent nods. In a small side office, a lone man stared intently at a computer screen while muttering about some gambling stratagem called "futures."
I spoke with Jane, who has worked in the elevator's office for umpteen years. I figured she would know nearly everything worth knowing, so I told her of my raccoon problem and asked if she was acquainted with anyone who could take care of my occupation situation.
"I know someone who can," volunteered a woman named Jo, who, I gathered, works the books at the elevator. She went on to describe the expertise of an organization she called "the family." It soon became apparent that Jo is an integral part of this organization. I didn't dwell on the details, assuming that the less I knew the better.
Jo and I promptly reached an understanding. I was relieved that the unwanted occupation and its inevitable conclusion were now out of my hands.
As agreed, "the family" arrived at Mom's house a couple of evenings later. The professional hit squad was comprised of Jo's husband and their 14-year-old daughter.
After duly paying their respects to Mom, the team went about their task with grim efficiency. A huge commotion soon erupted in the area near the silo; shouts and gunshots echoed through the chill winter air. The ring-tailed trespassers were being evicted with, as they say, "extreme prejudice."
A short time later, Jo's husband came to the house to issue a preliminary report. He said that a solid dozen of the masked occupiers had been, shall we say, "permanently evicted," but that some had escaped into various outbuildings. Permission was swiftly granted for them to root out any remaining holdouts.
At the end of the day, the raccoon tally stood at 14! No one knows if this was the entire herd - or "gaze," which I guess is the official name for a bunch of raccoons - but they certainly must have been thinned out. All that remains to remind us of them are their parasite-riddled doots.
Mom says that Crazy seems much less anxious nowadays. And so am I, knowing that our occupation ordeal is over. I'm 99% certain of it.