Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another UFO sighting in New Mexico

It was around 8:30 Friday night. It was cold outside, the woodstove was blazing inside, and we (Smooch, me, Rosebud, Daffodil and Snapper) were hunkered down for the evening, getting ready to make dinner and watch ... you don't want to know. But it rhymes with The Seal Mousehives.

Anyway, Smooch runs into the guest room and starts barking bloody murder. Then the cats run over to that side of the house. Then I run over and turn on the back porchlights.

Me: What's all the fuss about, Smooch? I don't see anything!

I look again. Nothing. Keep looking. Nothing. Then I saw it. A UFO (Unidentified Fat Object) waddling down one of Smooch's paths next to the fence. I think my eyes might have popped out of my head an inch or two. I had no earthly idea what it was. It was black, with short stubby legs and a short stubby tail, and as round as it was long. Way too big for pack rat. Way too small for a bear. Way too fat a cat.
What could it be?

I threw on my coat and shoes and grabbed the camera. My plan was to get some pictures, then come back in the house to look at them and figure out what I was dealing with. Seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea.

It's challenging to take pictures of a black animal in the dark. First I had to find it. The porchlights provided enough of a glow to spot something moving in the corner of the yard. I fired off about 20 shots then ran back in the house.

Ewww. I had no clue what it was. I saw a badger once when I first moved here, so I thought maybe this was a baby badger. I posted the picture above on facebook and folks started weighing in right away. Everybody thought it was a porcupine. Porcupine? We have porcupines in New Mexico? I'd never seen one in person before. What do I know from porcupines?

I decided to take a closer look at some of the other pictures. Hmm. Didn't see any quills, but maybe if I enhanced them like they do on TV... Roll your mouse between the margin and the picture below and pretend you're watching CSI: New Mexico.

Yep, it's a porcupine. Now what do we do? 
Open the gate, hope he finds his way out, keep Smooch inside, and worry about it in the morning.

So Saturday breaks and as soon as it was light enough to see, I combed the backyard looking for porcupine tracks or, heaven forbid, the porcupine. Didn't find either, so I let Smooch out to help me with the investigation.

Smooch: He was definitely back here at some point.
Snapper: Please be careful, mom. You haven't fed me breakfast yet.

Smooch: Somebody's been sitting in my chair.

Smooch: Somebody's been waddling down my path.

Smooch: Somebody's been digging in my dirt ... and look! There he is! Oops. False alarm.

Smooch: What are we going to do if he comes back?
Me: Hard to say. For now, your curfew starts when the sun goes down, 
all after-dark pottie breaks will be conducted on the end of a leash, 
and the porch light is staying on. And I'll do a little research on what the folks in Roswell did when they saw their UFO.


  1. Had no idea there were porcupines in the southwestern U.S. Very interesting.

  2. You really DO live in the Wild, Wild West!

  3. It's very cute, whatever it is! I wonder if it's a bearcat?

  4. The "Seal Mousehives"!!!! Ba ha ha! I can't believe you actually admitted that we, er, I mean, YOU watch that ridiculous show!!!!

    Smooch really is amazing. How in the *heck* did she know that thing was out there from her sleeping position on the couch?!

    UFOs.... what next?!

  5. I suppose you could try to live trap it, but I know I'd employ the "Three S" method. Coons, possum, and porkys all get the same treatment when they come visit.

  6. I am amazed how smart Smooch is. She doesn't miss a thing! She's definitely a good dog to have around!

  7. Smooch is one great watch dog. What hearing. The porcupine is kinda cute as long as the quills don't go flying I guess. Don't know that much about them though. Hope it takes off for good.

  8. LMAO! Somebody's been sitting in my chair! You've outdone yourself with this one. Pretty ugly little UFO, probably after your chickens:-/

  9. Yup porcupine. Good idea to keep Smooch on a short leash, a face full of quills is no fun.

    Love how her chair has her own cushion. :)

    (and lol on UFO)

  10. Hmmm, looks to me like some critter was trying to move in and freeload for the winter eh!

  11. Never a dull moment at the 7MSN. A very interesting visitor, but hopefully just passing through. Smooch is adorable tracking the lingering trail of the UFO (hilarious, btw).

  12. The UFO heard how good it is to live at 7MSN so it was trying to get in on the action. Can you blame it? Your comedic writing always makes me laugh out loud! Have a great Sunday :D

  13. I met a old timer who was raised on a ranch out near Santa Fe who's family kept one as a pet. It stayed in the house at night when the weather was bad and came and went as it pleased.

  14. Oh Smooch! You do NOT want to mess with a porcupine! Those quills are nasty. Listen to your mom...she knows best.

  15. Yep, porcupine. We have them here in the Texas Panhandle so I am sure you have them there. Contrary to popular belief - and cartoons - they do not throw quills. But they will put their back up and if you touch the quills will come out, much like cactus. I agree with Denise that they are probably after the chickens. Love your story!

  16. Definitely a porcupine. Don't see many of those, but walk a wide circle around them. I saw your tweet about it maybe being a badger and I thought "Oh please, don't let her go outside with a badger" cause they are MEAN.
    You're going to have to watch out for him coming back. I'm glad Smooch stays inside. I've pulled quills out of a dog before and it's way worse than cactus.
    Pretty cool though! You have a porcupine!

  17. Get rid of it. Nothing but trouble with domestic animals around. Live trap? No. Rules of the wild west. Shoot it. I'm an animal lover but over the years we've had so many problems because of porcupines and a couple of hefty vet bills. Be sure to have some needle nose pliers around in case there is an emergency.....

  18. The nose knows. Good girl, Smooch!

  19. Roswell won't be able to help because....drumroll please, THAT UFO really, really landed on a ranch near me, in Corona. Problem was there was not enough room space in Corona for all the media and the Air Force, so Corona asked....."Who wants it.". Roswell said they did.

    Scary thing is....that puts OUR landing much closer to your "landing" now....7 miles south of nowhere!

  20. Hopefully the little tyke was just passing through.

  21. Must be porcupine season. We live near Quemado NM (that be west of Pie Town) and three days ago we found porcupine tracks up the hill from our house. (Have photos of those tracks if you'd like to see.) And yesterday our dog had a close encounter. We spent the next hour wrestling with him around the kitchen floor using pliers to pull out 10 quills. He's just fine now. Anyhoo we live among piñon and juniper studded mesas and hillsides, so a friend suggested that instead of porcupine we call the critter porcupiñon!! Hoping our pooch learned his lesson well!

  22. I can relate, had a similar experience when the dogs found a muskrat in our backyard.

    Oh, and Pie & I watch The Seal Mousewives too. We like the ones that say caw-fee and live in the garden state. We consider it 'junk food for the brain' lol

  23. Great post! I've always been thankful to live in an area with few poisonous snakes and NO porcupines! Our biggest worry is a close encounter with a skunk, or maybe the neighbor's cat!