The Have a Heart Trap and the Egg Thief’s Revenge
Last night on The Farm did not pass quietly, for there was a disturbance in the otherwise peaceful slumber of the nighttime barn.
Something had gotten into the store of freshly plucked eggs.
Was it a fox? a coyote? a raccoon? a rogue dog?
“Break out the have a heart trap!”
“Do you know what a have a heart trap is?” J asked me as I stood around in a circle of mad plotting farmhands.
I was not sure if I wanted to know.
A have a heart trap is a device for catching varmint without mangling up their gooy little bodies or otherwise transforming them into corpses. The functional premise of these traps work along the same lines as a conventional lobster trap: an animal is baited into a cage from which it cannot escape. And the person who sets the trap is suppose to transport the intruding animal to a location where it would be more welcome.
I suppose this is where the “have a heart” part comes in.
In this way, we planned to get the little f’cker who had broken into the barn and eaten our eggs. Four big farming men now had a mission: to bring the varmint egg thief to justice. We licked out lips and rubbed out hands together as we imagined capturing that clever little fugitive.
Though it seemed as if this particular varmint was going to get off a little easier that the one who proceeded it. J told me a story of how the last animal who had broken into the barn and stolen eggs did not come to such a warm hearted end.
Apparently, some years before, a raccoon kept sneaking into the barn and eating eggs. So another Central American farm laborer — not El Salvadoreno — waited up for him one night, lasso in hand. The Latino farmhand waited in hiding deep into the night for any sight or sound of the thief. Suddenly, he heard some rustling by the door, and watched as a raccoon entered the barn and confidently made way for his nightly feast: a fresh batch of eggs.
This raccoon had previously had some good nights of pillaging, but this was not to be one of them. In fact, this raccoon had plundered his last.
The Latino farmhand then jumped out from his place of hiding and lassoed the poor beast from a single throw of the rope. The raccoon struggled, but, in the end, was no match for the shovel blows that fell upon his head.
The Latino farmhand then skinned the poor bugger and ate him for dinner on the following night.
Farmers do not take kindly to wild scavengers stealing their eggs.
But this season’s farm crew apparently “had a heart,” and we set the baited cage up at night in proximity to the eggs.
We all then went home, we all went to sleep.
The next morning we set out early for our day of farm work with the anticipation of fishermen at the break of dawn.
Did we catch anything?
We rushed over the the cage and found . . .
We laughed great laughs of vengeance and taunted the little varmint, who now looked as helpless inside of his new found enclosure as a caged up prisoner being paraded through the mob thronged streets of medieval London. Us farmhands acted the part of an old English mob well, as we tossed little stones and pieces of crackers at the convict inside the cage.
“He thought he was cool, but he was just a fool . . .” I quoted my father’s old adage.
The poor skunk had the sallow eyes of a preteen caught shoplifting in a candy store: there was no place for his guilt to hide.
The farmers joked and jostled each other in victory, El Salvadoreno teased the little skunk throughout the day, though we all understood the defensive attributes of our catch well, and nobody strayed within range of its potent hind quarters.
“What are you going to do with him?” I asked the farm owner.
“Ah, I will probably drive him around ten miles down the road after work and let him go.”
This sounded good to me.
At the end of the day I waved goodbye to my fellow farmhands and taunted the little egg thief one last time. Though none of us knew then that the little larcenist was yet to have his revenge.
After the chores of the day were finished, the farm owner went to transport the skunk off the farm and return him to the wild. As he did so, he was ever careful to keep the rear end of the little animal pointed away from him at all times. He picked up the cage and loaded it into the back of his pickup truck while making sure to keep the animal’s face pointed towards his own.
This particular “have a heart” trap was pretty narrow and gave the impression that its occupant would not be able to turn himself around into a potent position even if he wanted to.
But this impression was to be proved perilously incorrect.
The farm owner safely lifted the cage into the back of the truck, and then, as the tail gate was slammed shut, the little thief took the upper hand:
Quickly spinning around and bringing his business end to the forefront, the skunk quickly took aim and fired!
It was a direct hit.
The farmer, without any defenses to hide behind, took the shot of noxious liquid right in the face.
Now this skunk may not ever return to steal our eggs again, but he will always carry with him the knowledge that he took his eviction with a noxious shot of vengence.
. . . or maybe this is just how us farmers will remember it.
Either way, this egg thief surely got his revenge.