When I came back, I first saw these two in the Dogwood next to my porch. (I'm so glad I had my camera with me!) After I took some pictures of them, I looked down...
And there were these two little guys on my porch. They may be little, but they already have plenty of Raccoon attitude...
Already acting like they weigh 20 pounds or more. The males can weigh up to 40 pounds when they're fully grown. I think these little guys would probably weigh in at around 7 to 9 pounds; that's less than most of my cats!
But their bravado didn't last long and they scampered up the tree after their siblings. I turned to see their mother regarding me calmly from about 5 feet behind me. I'm sure she knew I wouldn't hurt any of them, since she's figured out that I put out the food for them.
I stepped back out of her way and watched. She went to the foot of the studio stairs and said something that I'm guessing went like this:
You children get down here right this instant! Maybe this will teach you to mind me. When I say 'follow me' I mean RIGHT NOW! Or the lady will let go of the one-eyed thing and IT WILL EAT YOU UP!"
Then she turned and looked at me. I could swear she was smiling. Her children hurried down the tree and steps and formed an obedient line behind her. I raised my camera to get a picture of this charming scene, only to find that the battery had died! (I should pay more attention to the warning light).
Anyway, they hurried on up the path by my studio. When they got to the crawl space opening on the bottom of the studio, Mrs. Slimtail reached her paw out and raised up the crawl space cover so her babies could go in then, with another glance at me, she followed them. I'm sure it was a smug glance, because I had nailed down that crawl space cover top and bottom after having the studio and cottage repainted last year. Raccoons can be very strong, but I was sure I had put enough nails in to hold it firm. Obviously not.
Well, that explains the thumping and bumping noises I had heard; they're living under my studio! I'd like to be able to let them stay year round, but I know that eventually my studio will smell like a Raccoon Porta Potty. So I'll wait several weeks until the babies are teenagers and, when I'm sure they're all out foraging, I'll nail it shut again. Only this time I'll use bigger nails!