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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014
My Raccoon ExperiencePosted Tuesday, August 2, 2011, at 11:27 AM
A Kauffman family portrait includes (front row) Brian (7) and Katrina (10). (Back row) Joshua (13) Keturah Miller (JoAnn's sister), JoAnn Kauffman, Enos Kauffman, Micah (14) and Josiah (13). On their Oak Ridge Goat Dairy & Creamery, the Kauffman family milk the goats, process the cheese, and market it locally.
I know I've said this before, but--just when I think I'm getting tired of this job--something outlandish and unexpected happens to make me realize what a wonderful opportunity I have for finding delightful surprises in life!
Just such an experience came up yesterday morning. Monday is news deadline day, and I was coming off one of those weeks when there was very little news going on in Advance. I know that's hard to believe--as busy a metropolis as this town is, but it's true. There were no city meetings, no library meetings, no bank robberies, no famous people coming to town, no big oil spills to report, and no train wrecks--mainly because we have no train...
I was thinking I should stop along the highway and see if anyone in the area had the World's Largest Tomato for me to shoot, but the 100-degree days have everyone's gardens drying up!
Then, I remembered that our library board president had given me a topic several weeks ago, and in my usual slothful fashion, I had put it on the back burner. She was in Schnuck's Grocery Store in Cape, where she discovered goat cheese from the Oak Ridge Goat Dairy & Creamery on County Road 307 in Advance!
"Madeline!" she said in a Facebook message. "You have to go do a story on that farm!"
Aha! I knew where it was--just down the road from my house! In fact, I did a couple of stories on them about three years ago. It was time for an update!
Out to the Enos and Jo Ann Kauffman Mennonite farm I traveled, over what I still call "Old Highway 25" --turn off 00 (my road), drive the gravel down to 91, pass the Crowley's Ridge Mennonite Church--and two bridges later, I'm there.
Enos Kauffman and his three oldest boys were working on a riding lawnmower when I pulled up. Actually, he had another "assistant" who was a bit less helpful than the boys. A young raccoon was busy chewing on the handlebars of a nearby bicycle. Oh, how I do love little critters like this! I've raised rabbits and squirrels, but never a raccoon.
We went to the coolness of the house to get the basic information about the Kauffman's business, and, as usual, I found the family an absolute delight! We sat at the kitchen table, while I took notes. The raccoon waited at the door for someone to come back out.
The Kauffman family has six children who range in age from 14 years old to 16 months. I met all but the baby, who was taking a nap, and (also as usual), I was impressed by the children's good manners, politeness, and curiosity.
The three oldest boys handle the milking chores, but all the children are able to help with the farm in some way. They help pack the cheese, run the scales and operate the vacuum sealer, but they also take turns going to the farmer's markets with their father and mother to sell cheese and donuts 3 times a week.
I learned that the little raccoon was a pet who had been "rescued" from a nest by the boys. The children named him "Trouble," after a little raccoon in the book "Trouble of the Northwest Territory." Trouble had 3 siblings, who have gone to live in other homes.
Trouble disappeared around the back of the house for awhile, but Enos sent one of the boys after him, when I insisted that the little fellow had to be in the family picture.
Shot #1 went without a hitch, but the raccoon's calm position didn't last long. My next three shots show the little raccoon traveling over the boy's shoulders until he reached Enos, at which point "Trouble" decided not to get into any more trouble than he could handle!
"He doesn't like me!" Enos explained. "I chase him out of the barn!"
I was thinking how well this photo shoot had gone, as we went back up to the house to tie up a few loose ends.
The trouble came as I was leaving. There, with his little pointed nose at the door, was "Trouble"! I managed to step safely over him and hurry down the sidewalk; however, I looked back to see the little raccoon chasing me to my car!
Once there, I stood perplexed. What now? Do I open the door? I had the distinct impression that Trouble was standing right there, ready to jump inside the minute the door was opened! What was I going to do with a baby raccoon in my Jeep?? How would we get him out??
I decided to take the same approach I do with my dogs.
"No, no! Sit! Stay! Go back!" I said, in a firm voice. I felt really silly, talking to a baby raccoon, but what else was there to do?
Trouble just sat and looked at me with his little black eyes--but, to his credit, he did NOT climb up my legs, as my little gray squirrel Nutkin used to do!
About that time, one of the twins came running from the house to rescue me, so I hopped in my hot car and headed back to civilization.
Thus ended a most unusually entertaining Monday morning! Once again, I thank God that I live in the country near a small town, where I get to go out and interview interesting people and meet goats and raccoons!
To find Oak Ridge Goat cheese, you can go to the Jackson Farmer's Market Tuesday, 3-7 p.m.; Cape Plaza Market Thursday, 2-6 p.m.; Sikeston Market, Saturday, daylight to noon--or Schnuck's and the Health Food Store in Cape.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.