Manzke: Oh, my, what a big porch visitor you have!

Susan Manzke
Oh, my, what a big late night visitor you have!

My daughter, Rebecca, and her husband Andy needed to store a used fishing boat in my big machine shed. The snow had finally melted, so the big door could be opened again. When we got inside and looked for a space where the boat wouldn’t be in the way of my tractor, large animal holes were discovered all over the dirt floor.

These were not holes made by mice, or even rats. These holes were about a foot across and there were at least four or more. Right then I decided to bring out one of my wildlife motion-detector cameras and set it up to see who was living in my shed.

I have two cameras. One I usually keep on my front porch and the other is set up in various locations around the farm. Both needed new batteries.

The easiest camera to use is on my porch. Photos from that position usually capture barn cats, raccoons and opossums.

When I went to set up the second camera in the shed, I felt a little jittery. What could be making those holes? There was no musky scent in the building. If there was, I would have guessed skunk or even fox. It could have been a groundhog, but in the past, they had scooped out mounds of dirt during their excavations. I hoped the camera would give me a good view of this interloper.

As I entered the shed with the camera, I made all kinds of noises. First, I banged on the door and made sure it rattled when I rolled the door open. After all that, I figured any critter inside would be heading out a back way.

After finishing in the shed, I filled the porch camera with fresh batteries and hung it on one of the posts. When both were set, all I could do was wait.

The following morning, I brought in the camera from the shed. Nothing showed up by the holes. All I could identify was a raccoon. The odd thing was there was something in a distant corner. It could have been another raccoon, but its shape was just a blur.

Looking for a midnight snack last fall is one of Susan's regular porch visitors.

I expected to see the usual critter photos from the camera on the porch. I removed the card from the camera and put it in my computer. As usual, the first shots were of a barn cat. Next came a couple of photos of a raccoon. When I clicked to the next frame, my breath caught. There, big as life, was a bear standing up against my open porch.

I couldn’t believe it. A bear had been sniffing around my porch at about nine o’clock the previous evening. That was before I had gone to bed. I remembered letting my dog Stella out the back door into her pen at about 9:30 pm. Of course, she barked. Stella always barks, so nothing seemed too unusual, except for the photo of a bear.

It could have been looking into my kitchen window. I probably had turned the light on as I got ready to go to bed. OMG!

This little opossum looks for leftovers on Susan's porch long after the farm cats have called it a night.

Now, any time I go outside, day or night, I make all kinds of noise before stepping out the door. Since I don’t want Stella to meet the bear, I bang hard on the door, hopefully sending any wild critter scurrying away before sending my dog into her fenced pen.

The odd thing about having a bear snooping in my kitchen window is that Bob had yearned to see a bear here on the farm. He never did, but I think even Bob would have thought this sighting a little too close.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;