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Raccoons And Power Steering Pumps

September 24, 2020

My neighbor had chickens. Not just normal chickens. He had $600 special chickens from Romania and places like that. He also had an obnoxious rooster. But, this story really isn’t about the rooster, unfortunately.

The chickens would roost in the trees behind our house. And the rooster would too. The chickens we didn’t mind. But, the rooster was noisy. If you think that roosters only crow when the sun comes up, you’ve never been around roosters much. The noise came right into our bedroom every time that stupid rooster saw the light from a car, or a flashlight or even the moon.

But, like I said, the story is really about the hens. One day my neighbor mentioned that he was starting to lose hens. He’d find a clump of feathers the next day beneath the tree. He asked me to keep an eye out.

One night around midnight, I heard his hens cackling. They were making a terrible racket. Whatever was getting my neighbor’s chickens was getting them right now.

I put on my slippers and robe and headed out to the backyard with a flashlight. I liked my neighbor and was anxious to help him idenitfy whatever was killing his chickens. And then I had a thought.


Cougars like chickens and they hunt at night. It might be a cougar. I didn’t want to meet a cougar in my backyard. Slightly less brave, but still determined, I left my backdoor open with the light on. I carefully counted the steps it would take me to get back to the door.

My son has a car. It’s a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix. It used to be my car. I’ve done plenty of work on it in the past. I sold it to my son a couple years ago. After selling it, I stopped doing doing maintenance on it. Part of being an adult with a car is taking care of your car.

My son is ready to head out on a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He “gifted” the car to his younger brother who is 17 years old. That means the car is back to being mine. . .sort of.

My younger son enjoyes having a car to drive to school. But, like most kids who are specifically “car” guys, he isn’t much for maintenance. The car started to develop some issues. Finally, he declared,

I can’t drive the Pontiac anymore.

Why not?

It won’t turn at all!

My son had never driven a car without power steering. They are really hard to turn. The car was out of power steering fluid. I added power steering fluid and the car was (almost) working again.

So, anything else wrong with it?

Yeah, it makes a weird clicking noise when it turns to the right.

Is that it?

Oh, and the air conditioning doesn’t work any more.

I taught my kids better than this. Really I did. The AC issue is an easy one. I started working on the clicking noise. We’d recently replaced the outer tie rods and I thought that might be the issue. One of them had a blown seal. I replaed it, but the noise didn’t go away.

I put the car up on blocks and pulled the front wheels. I then put the car in drive and tried turning the steering wheel back and forth. No weird clicking noise.

Was it a bad half axle? Bearings? Tie rods? Transmission?

Until I knew what the problem was, I couldn’t fix it. My neighbor came to help. We put the wheels back on the car and took it for a test drive. Sure enough, turning right, we got a weird noise. He stood in the parking lot while I literally drove circles around him.

Power steering pump.

Are you sure?

Yeah. Even when you stopped I could hear the pump cycling. That’s what’s making the noise.

That was actually all I had time for today. But, now I know I need a new power steering pump and a couple hours to install it.

That’s the Power Steering pump down at the bottom

Once I know the problem, I can fix it.

As I made my way into my dark back yard, the vision of cougars came to mind again. I climbed up on my kids’ play fort and aimed my flashlight across my back fence to the trees where the chickens were still squawking.

My lights flashed across the Western Washington foliage. Finally outlining an animal with a familiar bandit mask. It was a raccoon. And he had a mouth full of chicken. (Unfortunately not that stupid rooster.)

I let my neighbor know about my late night safari.

Thanks. Now that I know what it is I can trap it.

And that’s what he did. He set a live trap and baited it with chicken, of all things. Two days later he had his raccoon.

Do you mind if I bring the kids over to see the raccoon. I know it’s wild, but I’d like them to see it.

Sorry, they can’t.

Why not?

The raccoon is dead.

I thought you didn’t want to kill it?

Well, I didn’t. But, I was trying to figure out what to do with it and then it growled at me.

My neighbor was not a patient man. That was the end of the raccoon problem.

I’m still disappointed they never did get that stupid rooster.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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