By Jim Poling Sr.
The egg shells were the final insult.
I awoke early today and rushed to the bedroom window, anxious to look out and spot any signs of fresh activity in the nightly war with the masked marauders.
I stared down at the best built, most secure compost bin ever put together by a human being. Even Donald Trump would have to chokingly admit this was a rot bin much better and greater than anything he could build.
I named the bin MEGA because it truly was an example of Making Earth Great Again.
I built it in an effort to do my part in recycling all the stuff that is mucking up the environment. Cans, bottles and plastics into a bag for the recycling depot, food leftovers into a secure compost bin and – Presto! – almost nothing left to bring to the garbage dump.
I knew that building a foolproof compost bin would be frustrating and require much patience. Raccoons and I always have had a troubled relationship and, as I built the bin, I knew they were watching and scheming – making plans for breaking into it and scattering pieces of vegetables all over my back deck.
Raccoons, with their imploring eyes projecting melancholy from behind their little masks, can set heartstrings to playing a tender tune. Yes, they look cute and cuddly, but deep down they are evil.
I wanted my compost bin to be rock solid sturdy so I got four four-by-four posts, which I framed with two-by-fours into a box roughly two and a half feet square and four feet high (apologies to the metric world).
I sheeted it with privacy lattice to hold the compose in, keep the raccoons out and allow air to pass through it to aid composting. Then the testing began.
The first morning I looked down from my bedroom window to see a mess. Vegetable pieces scattered everywhere.
Raccoons had climbed up the bin and jumped in through the open top. So, I built a cover, which I hinged and secured with a latch.
The next morning, a similar mess. Raccoons had dug a hole and crawled under the frame. I lined the outside bottom edges with heavy rocks.
The next morning, I found the rocks removed and vegetables scattered about. I cut lengths of steel rebar and drove them into the ground wherever holes might be dug to get under the compost bin.
The next morning, I found the privacy lattice had been chewed and ripped apart to create an entry hole. I wrapped the entire bin with chicken wire.
The next morning, to my utter amazement, I found the bottom edge of the chicken wire had been pulled out and neatly rolled up over the chewed-out hole in the lattice. Proof positive that raccoons have the nimblest fingers of any animal, except of course chimpanzees.
I cut strips of sheet metal and covered the chicken wire edges so that nimble little fingers could not get at it to pull it away, or roll it up.
Nothing else happened for several days. I smiled and congratulated myself.
It had taken a lot of thought and work but I had won the battle. My MEGA compost bin was foolproof.
This morning, I rolled out of bed, yawned, stumbled over to the window and looked down at my foolproof compost bin. Nothing was amiss. No scattered vegetable pieces. No obvious evidence of break and entry. I smiled and congratulated myself again.
I started to turn from the window when something caught my eye. Sunlight bouncing off something white.
I looked more closely. Sitting in the sunlight on the latched compost cover were several egg shells, which I had tossed into the bin the night before.
My eyes scoured the sides of the bin and the earth around it. No scattered vegetable pieces. No evidence of a break in. Yet there were the egg shells shining in the sunlight, taunting me to figure it out.
In the bushes behind the compost bin I heard strange sounds. Animal sounds. Giggling sounds.
I did what anyone who has fought hard and lost to a superior enemy would do.
I shook my head and went back to bed.