Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stripes the Armadillo

This is an epic tale.  It will be told in its entirety.  This is the first posting, aka rough draft, so it will probably be edited and re-posted.  But I wanted to get it posted as quickly as possible.  

On the way to work Thursday morning I noticed the truck beside me had rolled its window down.  I turned and noticed it was my neighbor.

Me: Hey man how you doing?
Him: Fine, fine man.  I know we don't have much time before the light changes but I wanted to tell you I am trying to catch an armadillo.  They are tearing up my yard.  I am using a trap.  The guys at work are giving me a hard time about it.  I have not caught an armadillo yet but I have caught two opossums, a raccoon and one pit bull.
Me: A pit bull!  Well I would say you successful at trapping.
Him: Yeah but I ain't caught the first armadillo yet.

Me: I would say your chances are increasing.
-The light changes-
Me: Let me know if you catch one.  Later
Him: Will do. Later

Monday night right after dinner I go out on the patio to enjoy the cool evening.  I had started hand writing a story about a humorous lunch experience on Sunday.  I guess you could say I was concentrating quite well or else simply enjoying my outdoor office.  The back door opens and Kipp Jr (KJ) my oldest daughter walks out.  I feel her hand on my left shoulder.  Then she calmly whispers "Dad there is an armadillo."

I looked up and not 15 yards from me is a large armadillo snooping around.  Things I suddenly noticed:  About six or eight fresh holes in my yard from an armadillo.  KJ standing beside me just kinda smiling.  My crab/minnow net leaned up against the fence within reach to my right.  The armadillo has not noticed me.

I put my notes down in my chair and tell KJ not to make any sudden moves.  I grabbed the net.  Squirt, my youngest daughter, comes outside and is quickly told to remain still.  Mrs. Kipp (MK) arrives outside as well and says "O my...not the net again."  (Yes there has been a previous attempt to capture an armadillo with the net once before, but he escaped under the fence before I could reach him).

Reminding everyone to remain still, I stretched the net out to my right shaking it just so as to draw the attention of the nearly blind armadillo; they function better with sound and smell.  As I approached him, he stood up on his hind legs and looked at the net.  I started closing in on his right and with him still on his hind legs I put the net over him.  That's when the fight started.

He started jumping around thrashing.  The net was quickly analyzed to be much too small for this large nocturnal yard pit producing creature.  Next observation was, "O MY WORD, look at the size of those claws!"   

"Kipp what do you plan to do with him now?" MK asked.  
"Well get me a bucket or a hammer!"
"A hammer!  You are not going to do that in front of the kids!
"I was not going too until after you provided me with the hammer and you escorted the girls in the..."

Armadillo made one more attempt to escape - yep he was successful.  The girls were suddenly screaming or cheering.   I could not tell for sure.  The armadillo took off for the deck.  Only being armed with a net and not a shotgun, rifle, or hammer; he arrived successfully at his desired destination.  

"Now what?" MK wanted to know.
I walked toward the garage.  
"Where you going?  MK wanted know.
"I need some things."

I returned with a bucket, an old 5 wood (golf club), a tennis racket, the loose bottom of a folding chair and a pair of gloves.  My first strategy was -  if he came out from under the deck I could net him again, put him in the bucket, then put the chair bottom over the top of the bucket and secure him.  Plan B was to use the 5 wood repeated.

When I returned to the deck MK said "Maybe I should go see if the neighbor is home.  Didn't you tell me he was trying to trap the armadillo?  Maybe he could bring his trap."  
"Yes that is a good idea.  Take the kids with you."
"Oh no, girls you stay here with daddy."

The armadillo had entered under the deck from the south side.  The house is to the north (no exit).  The west side was an exit option but was the furthest from the armadillo.  One more very important detail about the deck, it is technically on the ground.  The supporting 2x6's are sitting about two inches off the ground.  In case you were wondering why he did not just waddle on underneath the deck to the other side or why I did not immediately crawl in after him.

Standing on the deck looking down I was able to see the armadillo between the boards.  I realized he was about three feet from the edge.  His tail was near the edge of the deck.  MK returned to say the neighbor's wife had answered the door and said he would be home shortly.  She would send him over when he got home.  

MK sees me get on the ground with my gloves on and wants to know what I am doing.  I announced my plan to grab the armadillo by the tail and pull him out from under the deck.  I may not be able to hold him, but maybe I get him pointed in another direction and then catch him in the net again.  Although she was encouraging me to go for it, I felt certain her intentions were not honorable.  

So I get down on my stomach and make a few failed attempts at pulling the armadillo out by the tail.  Each time I grabbed his tail, he would claw-in, inching further under the deck.  MK would squeal each time I reached for the tail.  MK offered to go get the log grabber from the fireplace set.  "Maybe you can grab him better with those."  Good idea, I thought.  I heard the neighbor's truck pull up.

He arrives with new excitement.  
"Have you caught it yet?  Where is it?
Do you have a trap?"  As he scans the backyard he says, "What are you planning to put him in?"
I stick out my hand.  "Forgive me but it has been a while since we met; is "Brandon" your first name or last name?"
"First name. Kipp right?
We shook hands.
"Yes. Thanks Brandon for coming over."
"No problem."
"He is right under here."

I pointed to the deck and showed Brandon the gap in the deck.  There is about 1/8 of an inch between the boards.  Maybe just a bit more but enough to see the gray shell of the armadillo.  

Brandon: "Man you have good eyes.  How big is he?"
Me: "You see that net; he fills up that net.  Best I can tell his head is here and his tail is there (as I pointed at the deck showing him the armadillo's head and tail)
Brandon: "O man he is big. You know they can't see well, but they have real good hearing and big claws."
Me: "Yeah - I have noticed he has not had a pedicure lately."
Brandon: "What do you want to do?"

Brandon and I strategized about how to get the armadillo out from under the deck.  I got MK to get something thin enough to poke through the cracks in the deck to try to encourage the armadillo out.  She returned with an ultra thin steel ruler.  It was perfect.  I started jabbing the armadillo's back.  He appeared to lay down.  I poked at his tail, he just moved it back and forth.  I tried to find his head to whack on his noggin, but it was right under one of the deck boards.  

Brandon then took the net and using the other end tried to poke him from the east side of the deck.  I think I can reach him.  I am going to try to move him back to where he came in from.  After a few unsuccessful attempts Brandon decides to go to his house and get a trap.  His wife had called him before he got home and told him what was going on so he had stopped by to see real quick the status.  He was gone for only a few minutes.  He returned with the trap and he had changed clothes.  

I told him the armadillo had moved closer to the house.  I also mentioned maybe we could set up the trap at the hole in the gate where he probably came in and check the trap in the morning.  But Brandon was more determined to try a few more things to get the armadillo out from under the deck.  He crawled on his stomach through the bushes on the east side of the deck until his head was right up against the deck.  He had picked up the log grabbers and thought for sure they would work.  As he is making a few attempts with the log grabbers, I hear a new voice in the yard.  

"This will get him out of there."  
Another neighbor from up the street was in my yard with a smoke machine of some sort smoking the edges of my fenced yard.  
"Yeah this is the stuff the city uses when they spray for mosquito's."  
I am thinking, this man has been misinformed on what we are trying to exterminate here.
"This works great.  It will keep the mosquito's away for a about an hour or more.  It will work on that armadillo too.  He's under the deck you say?"
I stick my hand to him to make sure I have his name right.  "Paul isn't it?"
"Yep. Where is he?  I will just smoke him with this.  This will get him out."

Brandon and I point at the deck where we see the armadillo.  Paul starts pumping the trigger of his smoke machine like a semi-automatic paintball gun.  Within a couple of minutes we have smoke rising up from between the boards of the deck.  Unfortunately no where near the armadillo.

"Hey Paul, that might work better if you squirt some of that smoke over here where the armadillo is.  The smoke you are pumping is just not getting to him."  I offered this information as politely as I could.

I noticed MK was escorting the girls through the smoke filled yard into the house.  I started feeling a bit light-headed myself.  Paul was determined the smoke would work.  

"He won't like this, he will get moving any second now." Paul said.
The armadillo did not budge.
"You know -cough- -cough- I do not want him to die under the deck.  Getting a dead armadillo out from under this deck, would be a nightmare." I politely offered.
"Well this does not seem to be working.  I got something that will work.  I will be right back." Paul took his smoke machine and left as quickly and quietly as he had arrived.

When the smoke cleared the girls came back out.  Brandon and I were still trying to prod the armadillo out from under the deck.  Paul showed back up.

"This will work.  This will get him out of there."
"What you got there Paul, a gig?" I asked politely.
"Yep this will will work.  It will get him of there.  He won't like getting poked with this."
"Paul remember how we just talked about not killing him...MK you want to take the girls back inside?"
"I am not going to kill him.  I am just going to make him mad.  Yes sweetheart you may want to take the children inside.  If I happen to hit him too hard there could be an accident."

MK takes the children back in the house.  Squirt pipes up and asked if we are going to kill the armadillo.  MK tells Squirt that we were not trying kill the armadillo.  We were just trying to get him out from under the deck.  
"Why is that man trying to stick him with that sharp thing if he is not trying to kill him?" KJ asked.  
"Get in the house!" MK hurried the girls along.

Paul tried a few thrusts at the armadillo.  He claims to have got him across the nose once and it did seem to encourage the armadillo to move.  However once again he got closer to the house.  By now he was about two feet from the brick wall of the house and about as far away from the edges as he could get.

"You know what will work.  Water.  Water will get him out.  I know it will." Paul offered another fail proof suggestion.
"Paul I thought about that, but with no way to get any water pressure after him from underneath and running the water between the cracks from above; wouldn't it be like he was just getting rained on."  I offered politely.
"It will fill up his burrow and flood him out." Paul was not to be deterred. 

We pulled the hose over and started the water.  The girls had come back by this time to announce they had been inside praying for Stripes.  
"Stripes?!" I asked.
"Yes Squirt named him.  She has been inside praying you would not kill him.  You can't kill him now he has a name AND he has been prayed for." MK explained with a grin.

Brandon: "Kipp man you can't kill Stripes, your girl prayed for him."  
"Funny Brandon real funny.  I hope you have kids soon."
Brandon: "We are; we are due in six weeks."
"Well congratulations!  Can't wait for another racoon or opposum or pit bull to get caught in your trap and watch you have to haul it because your..." 
Brandon: "Its a boy."
"...your son is inside praying his daddy does not kill the creature."
Brandon: "Man that is too funny; Stripes."

I told Brandon if this did not work I was going to set out the trap and try my luck with it.  Brandon told me he had another trap.  He went and got the second trap while I watered the armadillo.

When the water had filled the area under the deck significantly and the armadillo nose was visible between the cracks almost in a "Thanks for the bath boys, what you got next?"  Paul offered one more suggestion.  

"You know what will work?  Hot water.  Sweetheart why don't you go boil some water."
MK agreed.  I think she was either humored by the look on my face or she was starting to enjoy the events of the evening.  I made the announcement that if this did not work we were calling it a night.  
"This will work.  This will get him out." Paul said with confidence.

MK returned with the first pot of hot water.  We poured it between the cracks.  Bump, thud, thud-thud, bump.  "Told you it would work."  
The armadillo moved about three feet with the first hot water bath.  The next five or six pots we used either missed or he was enjoying the spa treatment.  

"That's it we are done.  He is not coming out."  I announced.  MK came out of the house with a large pot of still boiling water this time.  "This is the last one."
Brandon told me he was sure the armadillo was right there, as he pointed.  I poured the whole pot in one motion in that spot.  Mostly to get this episode behind me.  We heard a few more bumps then it got quiet again.

"Well I best be getting back home.  I got to get my feet propped up, my back is starting to hurt." 
"Thanks for the help Paul." I said politely.

Brandon and I are just kinda standing there looking at each other wondering what next.  I then started picking up the hammer, ruler, log grabbers, tennis racket...when Brandon calmly says, "There he goes, there he goes!"

About an hour and half ago a large gray fuzzy haired armadillo had ran under the deck.  Now there was a clean black wet bald armadillo walking across the backyard.  Brandon was like a flash, he grabbed the net and with about two steps had bounded across the yard and netted the armadillo.  
"Wooohooo!  Get the trap, get the trap!"  Brandon could not contain his excitement.
"I got it. I got it.  Nice job with the net."

I set the trap right in front of the net with the armadillo facing the entrance to the trap.  Brandon eased up on the net and we both encouraged the armadillo into the trap with our feet.   He walked right into the trap.

High fives were issued.  Pats on the back were issued.  Hand shakes were given for a job well done.  "Brandon, I am so you glad you saw him walking out.  I was sure he was still under the deck."
Brandon: "Hey I think Paul finally got it right, the hot water worked." =)
Me: "Before you take him anywhere lets get a few pictures of this little rascal."
Brandon: "OK the guys at work are not going to believe this, they have been making fun of me for weeks."
Me: "Well then, lets get all the tools we used to capture him to put in the picture."

We moved the trap to the middle of the backyard.  I gathered everything we had used: the net, the log grabbers, the gloves, the hammer, ruler, seat bottom, the tennis racket, the bucket, the gig Paul left, the pots, the 5 wood, the hole sponsor sign metal frame (for poking thru the deck cracks), and I am probably forgetting something.  But we put it all around the cage.  

I am snapping pictures with our Fuji Fine shot, Brandon is taking pictures with his phone.  The girls are consoling Stripes that he is not going to die.  It was like the end of a Disney movie.  I passed off the Fuji to KJ not knowing what she would do next.  Matter of fact I was not sure she knew how to ...

Although I would love to explain the next series of events, you may better enjoy seeing it.  That's right! A video boys and girls.  This is a first for rockbottom, I hope this works.  I hope you enjoy.  Don't forget to come back here for the rest of the story.

You may not want to keep reading until after you watch the video.  Just sayin' this is a spoiler alert.  I thought I would give you a chance to take the next 15 minutes to download and watch the 3 minute video (why is America's internet so slow?)
OK I have stalled long enough to keep you from reading the next paragraph.  But if you did, I bet you will wish you had watched the video, just sayin'.  Yes I thought about a jump break (all you other bloggers), but once you put one in you cannot delete it.   If you can delete a jump break, teach me how and I will do it on the re-post in a few months.  OK I have really stalled all I am going to stall. 

You are asking - "How did he get out?"  Well I don't know if you can see it, but on the first trap in the video, there is a spring on the door latch.  Basically it did not catch.  You may notice me examining the latch before moving it over to where Brandon had caught Stripes in the net again.  With the success from the first time we used our feet to get him in the trap I thought for sure it would work again.  Stripes is a smart armadillo, a survivor, he knew what the foot meant!

Next you may be asking why the subtitles on the video from Stripes point of view.  Well honestly it was just a neat feature I found and decided to use it.  If you watch it more than once you can ignore the subtitles or vice a versa.

Another question you may have is why did we use two cages near the end of the video.  Not trusting the latch on the first trap, we thought we would use the other one.  But this time when we tried to encourage Stripes into the trap, the trapdoor fell down during all the commotion and Stripes ended up wedged between the trap door and the top of the trap.  Picture this - looking at the trap from the side, then say you are looking at the right side, make a triangle |__<|  my drawing is missing a top but you get the idea.  Put Stripes in the triangle.  He is supposed to be in the trap on the left side or the rectangle.  Make sense?

What did not get filmed is the actual capture.  We moved near the AC unit and put the trap against the house.  We then put the other trap at the opening of the trap Stripes was in.  Then we used the particle board to seal off the side opposite the house.  Now all his exits were sealed.  We did not want to take any more chances of him getting loose again.  ("Loose" being his secret agent code name in case you did not catch that in the video)

Then Paul shows back up.  
"Hey looks like you got him.  How the he#% did you get him stuck in there like that?"  
I look up to answer Paul and notice he is toting a machete.  Brandon beat me to the punch.
"Paul man the kids have been in the house praying for Stripes.  They want us to release Stripes and not harm him in any way."
"Well OK sweethearts."  Then he whispers to me and adds a wink, "If you will just stop by my house on the way out." 

We could not figure out how to move Stripes from his wedged predicament to the other trap when suddenly Paul unsheathed the machete and uses it like a spatula to move Stripes into the other trap all in one move.  Stripes was trapped for the second, third, I lost count, time...but trapped for good - FINALLY! 

Keeping our promise we loaded him up in the truck and drove him to a new construction site a few miles away and released him.  Stripes is out there somewhere blogging to his friends about the silly humans.


Clipped Wings said...

I'm still laughing at the video. Will read story later, as I need a couple hours sleep before work.

EmptyNester said...

Sorry....laugh, snort...can't really comment...chuckle, laugh....laughing way too hard!!!

Donna Perugini said...

Great stroke of genius to have a video. Smart kids! They made you famous.

My only experience with an armadillo was having it in my hands, smiling up at me rather glassy-eyed.

That's right, it was made into a purse. My Aunt Betty ended up with it for a Christmas gift and I ended up with a weird memory.

DISCLAIMER: No animals were killed by us to get the was a second-hand item.

Kipp said...

Clipped - I hope you get a chance to read the first part before the video. Stripes is quite the survivor.

EmptyNester - the best compliment is knowing you are speechless from laughter.

Donna - the kids come from a good blood line -)
I would imagine that purse started many a conversation.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! Life is so much fun at times. It's a good thing God gave man authority over the animal kingdom!! Good job!
Your kids will file this in their "memory" file.
Mary B.

SherilinR said...

nice, kipp! that's a great story. i loved when you said you were watering the armadillo. cuz we all know how they love a good steam bath when they're lounging under a deck.
your girls cracked me up squealing & laughing at you.

Clipped Wings said...

Well, I watched the video first, because, was just there, lol. Great story anyway. Boiling water, yikes!!! I don't remember silly being the word used when I read Stripes' post this morning. I love the subtitles, makes it even funnier. By the way, you have a great looking family :)

George said...

Ok that was to funny. But be honest Kipp we boys down here in the South love grilled armadillo, so how did you marinate him before putting him on the grill? I know you are watching cartoons right now eating cereal out of your new bowl (the armadillo shell). Well that was truly a funny story and video. Thanks

Kipp said...

Mary B. - the authority was in question for quite a while there...Ha!

Sherilin - Thank you. Trust me the girls get ample opportunity to laugh at their dad. =)

Clipped - Stripes was not harmed during the filming of this video. Thank you for the nice words about my family.

George - just add a little Tony Chachere's... =)

knepper said...

This is just priceless, you should send this in it would win.The girls reaction to this adventure is funny in it self. Wil wait on part two THE RETURN OF STRIPES!!!!!

Kipp said...

knepper - My wife and kids have been checking everyday to see if another armadillo is in the yard...

Kipp said...

Not long after the posting of this story, several media outlets posted armadillos are carriers of leprosy.
Brandon and I were careful and aware of the diseases armadillos could carry.
Many family, friends, and followers have emailed me concerned for the health of my family and neighbor based on our encounter with Stripes.
As of this posting of this comment, none of us have seen or felt any ill affects.
Thanks again to all who have sent emails of concern.

VanityofVanities said...

"Stripes is a smart armadillo, a survivor, he knew what the foot meant!"

Indeed he (or she)is. And he(or she) had even outsmarted three humans at some point. Love this story. Can't fight the urge to laugh and to love Stripes too. :)

Cathy@cheap digitizing