By Kim Lemmon
My family often accuses me of being crazy. I don’t think I’m ACTUALLY crazy but I do have a very vivid imagination.
Books are as visual as movies to me, and I can get scared pretty easily if I read or watch anything too horrifying. The worst part for me though is when I’m scared of things that actually exist in real life.
Sure books and movies are fun (even the scary ones) but most of the time they are fiction and even if I become scared my more logical side prevails and I am able to curb my feelings of fear. The real problem occurs when I am scared of something that is actually REAL.
If you have read any of my articles in Ohio’s Country Journal or my blogs on this website, you know that we have horses. Twice a day I go out to the barn to feed the horses and barn cats. This usually isn’t a problem but I really hate to go out to the barn in the dark. Yes, I’m actually terrified to go.
That might sound dumb to you but I have had many scary experiences in that barn at dawn, dusk and several dark times in between. Fall is always the worst time of year for me because I have to go outside every morning when it is still dark due to the shorter days. It takes everything I have to open the barn door, walk around the door and then turn on the lights. Those few seconds of darkness with animals of unknown origination (hopefully cats) running around my feet are terrifying. Yes, I said terrifying and often scream filled. But before you pass too much judgment, let me review the facts.
If you have kept score, the haunts and critters have won this game they like to play with me. I have always kept all my grain shut up tight and I stopped putting cat food out at night all to no avail. I have had skunks that thought they were my pets and would come walking toward me begging for food and I have had many raccoons cause all kinds of destruction in the barn. I actually have real reasons to be afraid.
Last summer, I became so terrified that I refused to go to the barn at night. This usually isn’t a problem because during the summer days are long and it is easy to get all the chores done between dawn and dusk. If I did have to go out to the barn late because I forgot to turn the draft mare’s fan off, it was usually because we had been gone for the evening and gotten back too late and my husband, Mark, would drive the car down to the barn and let the headlights shine inside while I ran (yes ran) inside and turned the fan off.
One night we forgot the fan until after we were both in the house. Mark was making fun of my fears and feeling really manly and volunteered to go outside and turn off the mare’s fan. All was well, but before he returned to the house, he decided to turn the light on where the cat food is kept and check for critters. BIG mistake. The summer haunter of our barn turned out to be a possum and it was staring Mark down.
It is legal to shoot skunks, possums and raccoons if you have tried all other means to remove them from your property and their presence is causing destruction or danger to your livestock. Just think rabies and EPM and you have enough to fear if you have livestock in your barn.
We had tried everything to keep the critters away from the barn but nothing worked so it was time to fetch the gun. I didn’t want to go outside because next to skunks, possums are my least favorite critter. We had herds of them living in our barn at home when I was a kid. No matter what we did they wouldn’t go away and every time you pulled a bale of hay out of the stack to feed it you prayed there wouldn’t be a possum sitting behind it.
I finally gained enough courage to take the gun and bullets out to Mark but I cautioned him that possums are really hard to kill. Of course he didn’t believe me because he was lucky enough to have had no previous experience with possums. He shot it a few times to make sure it would die quickly and not suffer and then he told me to take the gun and bullets back to the house. I protested because I told him I doubted it was dead (though I refused to go look) but he told me I was crazy and to just put the gun away.
When I returned to the barn, I refused to go inside but I saw a very frightened Mark who was begging me to come back in and help. Of course, the possum wasn’t dead and it was covered with blood and walking toward him (that’s was a nice visual I had every time I shut my eyes for a few nights). There was a lot of screaming, probably mine.
I ran back to the house for the gun and the possum was killed successfully this time but much to our continued horror baby possums started crawling out of her belly. It was a horribly frightening experience. I, of course, didn’t witness the baby possum attack because I refused to go inside the barn but I saw the look on Mark’s face and just imaging it was enough for me. If it is not horror story worthy I don’t know what is.
So this Halloween, please remember that it is not only human ghosts and monsters that we are supposed to believe aren’t real that can haunt you, but live animals and if you have a vivid imagination the ghosts of animals that haunted your barn while they were alive that can cause a scare. Those cats rubbing my legs in the morning sure feel like possums and countless baby possums coming to attack me until the barn light is turned on and identifies them for what they truly are.
To play it safe, I think I’ll be making sure all the chores are done between dawn and dusk this Halloween, I don’t want to be the new urban legend of the woman who was killed by the ghost of a mother possum!
Update: The morning after I wrote this, I opened the barn door and was taking a deep breath before I entered the dark barn when a cat jumped out of the hay and right at my head. It was really scared because I couldn’t see what was coming at my head from the dark. You can’t convince me there isn’t something sinister at work out there!