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Published April 21, 2020

 

The opossum and the old shed

By John Toth / The Bulletin

The old shed had to go. Part of its foundation was rotting. The door had fallen off. It was tilting.

I hadn’t seen the opossum that lived under it. I think at one time it housed an entire opossum family. Some people think opossums are ugly. I think they are cute. And they eat a lot of fleas and bugs, They are good neighbors.

I tried to save the shed, just in case the opossum was still using it. The contractors we hired started to rebuild it, but it became obvious that the shed was not worth the effort or the money.

And the demolition began.

The roof came down, then the walls, and then it was time to demolish the foundation.

The shed was built well many years ago by a young contractor who decided to make the walls out of hardiplank. He designed it himself and built it for a really good price.

The building must have weighed a lot, because when the hardiplank door fell off, it took everything I could muster to move it. The contractor walked off the job without tying down the shed, and I never got around to doing it. But through the years, the old shed survived every storm without budging an inch - except for settling into the ground on one side.

Had he used treated wood, the shed could have been saved. But it lasted about two decades, so I’m not complaining.

At first I stored lawn mowers and other yard equipment in it, but over the years it sort of got away from me and filled up with mostly junk. But it did serve as the Opossum Inn.

I think they used it as a vacation home, going between my shed and other hiding places.They probably knew the neighborhood better than me. The only care in the world they had was avoiding barking dogs. That, sometimes, was not easy.

But even then, the dogs just jumped around the opossum and barked as it continued towards the shed at a steady pace. One of them even played possum with one of my dogs. It really looked dead, even bled from the mouth. I got the dog back inside the house, and when the coast was clear, the opossum got up and continued its journey.

After that we were more careful and made sure that the opossum left the yard before we let the dogs out, because opossums are good for a yard. They eat unwanted pests around your home and garden, such as snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. Opossums are free gardeners.

The demolition went smoothly until I heard screaming. As one of the workers pried up the last of the floorboard, the opossum climbed out of its hiding place and walked across the yard and exited through the fence.

I thought the shed was abandoned, but I was wrong.

The worker, whose heart had almost stopped, took a well-deserved break.
“You made him homeless,” I yelled at him in jest.

He was still clutching his chest. “I hope it finds a new home. If I knew he was still there, I would have left this thing alone,” I continued.

The young contractor didn’t care about all that. He was just glad he wasn’t attacked.

“They don’t attack. They try to run away, or they play dead,” I said. “You were never in danger.”

The shed was cleared away, and emptiness filled the space where the Opossum Inn once stood. It was kind of sad. The opossum may even have been born under the shed, and now its whole life was disrupted.

I put a big dog kennel where the shed used to be in case the opossum decided to come back and needed to get out of the rain. It probably was a dumb thing to do, but it made me feel a little better.

I hope it comes back to visit and checks out the yard after a new shed is delivered and installed. It may like the new Opossum Inn better than the old one.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)