A Crazy Thing Happened…

I hate to admit it, but I find a lot of inspiration for the crazy, odd, unique, outlandish, and downright strange things I often incorporate into fun or funny scenes in my books from things that happen in real life.

And those happenings aren’t things I’ve seen on the news or heard someone discussing.

Oh, no.

They are things that have happened to me.

So many loony things happened to me when I was growing up on our family farm, I guess I didn’t give a thought to them seeming weird to others.

But they are – weird, that is.

I captured some of my favorite bizarre childhood happenings in Farm Girl, a humorous account of my growing up years.

Some of the wild tales that really did happen include being chased up the stairs by a snake, battling a shrew (the fuzzy, four-legged kind), and watching a coyote come back to life on our back patio.

I’ve fallen out of moving farm equipment, been drenched in gated pipe slime, and freaked out my mother when we found bones on top of the ground in an old cemetery.

If I’m looking for something different, something a little out there to include in a book, I generally don’t have to look too far.

In my two recent releases, I incorporated tidbits of real happenings into situations with animal characters.

In  Lightning and Lawmen, the heroine, Delilah, decides to befriend a half-grown raccoon.  Despite of everyone telling her she’s crazy, she works at making him a pet. In one scene, Ollie, the raccoon, attacks the hero. With a recent rabies scare in town, they are thinking the worst, but they soon discover Ollie just wanted the sweets in Dugan’s pocket.

The same thing happened to my dad. 

When I was probably around six or seven, my brother brought home a young raccoon. I don’t recall the reason why he had the raccoon, just that it was pretty awesome to have raccoon.

We soon learned that if something wasn’t nailed down, the raccoon viewed it as fair game for him to pilfer. He could take the screen off the window at the bottom of the stairs and make his way into the house. One of his favorite places to explore his cat burglar skills was in my parents’ bedroom where he’d grab anything shiny that was left out. Watches, buttons, even pens disappeared with regularity.

We also learned Bandit had a sweet tooth. My dad, a hard-working farmer, often took a few cookies with him after lunch for a little afternoon snack. One summer afternoon, he was busy working in the shop when the raccoon wandered in. He’d bent down to work on something and the raccoon lunged at him, growling and clawing at his chest. Dad pushed him away and hollered at him to knock it off, but Bandit did it again. The third time, he rascally little devil managed to grab a cookie from Dad’s pocket and, perfectly content, sat down to eat it. Dad quit carrying treats in his pocket after that.

In my sweet contemporary romance, Summer Bride, one of the characters is a whackadoodle cat named Crosby.

The cat is based entirely on our persnickety, cranky, completely insane feline.

In the story, Crosby is afraid of everything: other cats, birds, animals in general, most humans, grass, leaves, the wind – and mice.  (Yes, this is totally our cat. In fact, he freaked out just yesterday when a hummingbird flew by!)

There is a funny scene where the cat lets a mouse inhabit the garage and Sage, the heroine, has to take care of it.

The reason for that scene being in the book is because I experienced it while I was writing the story and decided it would be fun to incorporate.  Only in real life, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that funny.

Because our cat is a lovable freakazoid we both are allergic to, he stays outside except when it’s time to eat. He gets fed in the garage twice a day (and spends many happy hours lounging on his special bed in there). Anyway, my husband and I take turns feeding the cat so it took us a while to figure out the cat seemed to be eating a lot more food than usual. And his food bowl was licked clean (which has never happened in the many, many years we’ve had him since he adopted us). We finally compared notes and decided something must have snuck into the garage.

We tried to monitor who much food was disappeared. And it was a lot. I mean A LOT!

We set traps. We cleaned the garage from top to bottom. One friend assured us we were probably harboring an entire family of pack rats (and no, that didn’t help me sleep at night). I finally sprinkled flour all around the food bowl one night, hoping to at least see what kind of tracks were left behind.  The next morning, Captain Cavedweller and I rushed into the garage to discover tracks all over the floor that led to the door of our furnace room. And they were far too big for a mouse. Freaked out by the prospect of a rat invasion or something bigger – he promised to help me figure out what we were dealing with and get rid of it on his day off.

The next morning, the biggest mouse either of us has ever seen was in one of the traps he’d left setting everywhere in the garage (and you don’t have to worry about our cat getting into one of them. He’s scared of those, too).

Not prepared for whatever was waiting in the furnace room, I opened the door,  expecting to be greeted with horrible smells, snarling rodents and disgusting messes.  Only, nothing appeared amiss. There were no messes. No bad smells. Nothing.

Then I glanced down and noticed a single piece of cat food in front of the suitcases we’d stored in there. I shoved the suitcases out of the way, and this is what I saw.

You can’t tell it from the photo, but the apocalyptic mouse had stockpiled about ten pounds of cat food. It was packed beneath the shelf you can barely see on the left and stuffed into a little ledge where the concrete floor meets the wall.

And the worst, most insane part of it all? I turned around to get a shovel to start scooping out the cat food and our lunatic cat ran in and started chowing down on the mouse-slobbered food as though he hadn’t eaten in months.

Yep, a crazy thing happened…


To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Farm Girl and your choice of either Lightning and Lawmen or Summer Bride, just share something funny or crazy that happened to you in the past.

Shanna Hatfield
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

34 Comments

  1. Funny as usual. I still love your Dad saying “Don’t tell your Mother.”, my most favorite part from Farm Girl. The whole book was funny. I am still surprised you survived growing up.

    Not funny at all at the time, as an adult, I found out that I can jump straight up and cling to a porch swing. All it took was for me to step on a snake that was on the porch. Snake got away, it was harmless, but not to me.

    I already have the three books you mentioned. I have also read two and starting Summer Bride. I am working my way through your books. Love the humor and inspiration with the sweet romance that you weave into the stories.

    You and Captain Cavedweller have a blessed and joyful day.

    1. Jerri- I’d of loved to have seen your face. You and my dad both are scared of snakes. My mom has to kill the snakes around the house or the barn is because dad will shoot up everything trying to kill a little harmless Grass snake. Lol!!

    2. Oh, Jerri Lynn! Snakes are the worst! Glad you had the porch swing nearby. And so happy you are enjoying the books. Thank you for reading them! <3 Have a beautiful day!

  2. Shanna- Farm Girl was just so funny, I laughed so hard reading this book. You are just the sweetest and hearing your childhood stories, some which reminded me of myself, just had tears rolling down my face as I was reading.
    When I was about 15 years old we were going camping and we stopped at this convience store in this small town to get gas. Mom and Dad had went into store and me and Trophy were in the truck waiting. Well next to us this goodlooking Cowboy about my age who pulled up to get gas. I thought he was so fine!
    I didn’t want him to see me staring, so I picked up the 1st thing I found in the seat and played like I was reading it as I stole glances at this cute cowboy.
    I thought I was being really sneaky when my little brother said,
    “ I bet he thinks your a real dog!”
    I looked at him and he was dying laughing at me, I looked down and I had picked up a can of Alpo dog food as my prop to look other wise engaged.
    So that was one of the most embarrassing moments and believe me, my brother has never let me forget. I cringe anytime Alpo is mentioned and my brother is around. He’s sure to bring the whole incident up.
    I love your books, I’ve read FG, L & L, and I’m currently reading Summer Bride. Just love your books.
    Have a blessed day!! Love and hugs.

    1. That is such a fun story, Tonya! I probably would have done the same thing. Thanks for sharing that with us… and for reading my books!
      Love and hugs to you, sweet lady!

  3. We were living on an Army base and the MPs used a radar gun on my brother. They wanted to give him a ticket for speeding on his bicycle. I have others but that one came to me

    1. That is a great story, Debra. So fun!

  4. You made me laugh this morning with your stories. Your cat and mouse one really got me going. That was one smart mouse.

    1. It really, really was. And the “tidiest” one I’ve ever encountered. I’m pretty sure the mouse thought the end of the world was approaching for all the cat food it hoarded.
      Thanks for stopping in today, Janine!

  5. I feed a cat that the neighbors moved away and left along with my own cat but have to watch for coons eating the cat food outside, my cat comes in to eat. My car was broke down in June for two weeks and they like to have never found what was wrong with it, I drove it one day and the next day it wouldn’t do anything and had to have it towed. After changing a lot a parts they went to change the crank sensor and found that a mouse of squirrel had eaten the wires to the sensor so that is why the car wouldn’t run. You never know what those little devils will do, just saying.

    1. They can make the most horrible messes and disasters in a blink, can’t they? Yuck to rodents of all kinds.
      That’s so nice you feed the neighbor’s cat after they moved.
      Thanks for stopping in today!

  6. Shanna – You crack me up! All that cat food! I can’t even imagine. We had a mouse once that nibble a hole in a kitchen towel in order to get to the brownies on our island. How he climbed onto the island in the first place, I’ll never know, but then some of us can do amazing feats when a chocolate reward awaits. 🙂

    1. Chocolate is a great incentive. 😉 We’ve had many mouse encounters over the year (kind of comes with living in the country) but I’ve never seen one stockpile cat food before.
      Thanks for stopping in, Karen! Have a fabulous day!

  7. When I was in high school, I parked my car right next to 2 huge evergreens. One day I saw my dad out there, the hood of my car up, tossing pine cones over his shoulder. A squirrel had decided my car was a good place to make a nest. Thankfully neither my car or the squirrel was hurt!

    1. Oh, wow, Katie! Glad your dad found the pine cones before the nest did any damage. Thank you for popping by today!

  8. LOVED reading Farm Girl a few years back! Growing up in the country is the absolute best! You handled the snakes far better than I would have. (SHUDDER!) I have two cute happenings, but with all of our animals, I’m sure I’m not remembering the funniest. My brother brought home orphan raccoons every now and then for his kids to “play” with. He had a huge pan of water for them to wash their food in. They loved hard peppermint candies, but first, they had to wash it in the water before eating it. It was so cute/funny to watch them munch down on the candy as their noses would crunch up with every bite. I had a cat a few years ago who absolutely had to “help” me make the bed every day. She would jump onto the top sheet and grab it while I was trying to smooth it out, then she would tunnel under the covers while I pulled them into place. She would jump out at me when I placed the pillows on the bed, then rub up against me like she wanted to do it all over again.

    1. That is so fun about the raccoons and the candy. The ones I’ve seen sure enjoy their sweets.
      And I love about your cat helping make the bed.

  9. One time, my dog went out to pee… her best friend, a cat named Mickey went over to the spot and covered it up with dirt… I was shocked… I guess he was showing her how it is supposed to be done cat style.

    1. Oh, that is funny, Colleen.

  10. I too grew up and still live on a farm – cannot ever predict what is going to happen in this world – anyway was having a problem with a skunk in my chicken house eating the eggs – hubs not at all concerned until I was going to be late getting home and asked him to gather the eggs – well he waited just a bit too long and since we also have not 1 but 2 black and white cats, he thought one was curled up sleeping in the hen’s nesting box when he nudged it and it was the skunk he was face to face with!! Then he set a trap for it!!! LOL!!

    1. That’ll teach him to not trap the skunks. LOL! You are right – can’t ever predict what might happen. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping in Colleen!

  11. We had a stray cat we had adopted (as an inside and outside pet as she pleased) who was the best mouser ever. Period. However: She thought when we had outdoor family picnics she should bring an (un)covered dish too. She would find the biggest rodent she could find in the back field and drop it the middle of all the doings. Naturally I thanked her, gave her a treat, and my husband removed her contribution.

    BTW, her name was Tina Tuna, named after a sandwich menu I had used in Minneapolis that named what they offered after stars, sort of (Tina Turner). When we took her in (not long after my elderly cat had passed away) it turned out she was pregnant and I decided ahead of time I would keep one of her kittens, which we did and called J. Patrick Tuna (a family name of course!) Besides the Minneapolis menu, I had had a dream while I was sleeping before we got Tina–of my family going west in a Conestoga wagon and in the dream, alongside the road, we found a cat. I squealed it was our long lost cat Tina Tuna! Later in the dream, but on the prairie, we came across another cat and I yelled it’s our other long lost cat J. Patrick Tuna! I had forgotten about that dream but my husband didn’t, so when we got the cats (to be named Tina and Patrick) he reminded me and so they were named for that dream!

    On a sadder but strange note… neither cat slept with me on a routine basis, but shortly before each of them died, they wanted to sleep under my arm with their heads on my shoulder. I just knew at the time they were saying goodbye. I’ve had a lot of pets, and I have a lot of stories about them, but those two cats were each something else. (Fer instance, Patrick would sleep around the back of my husband’s neck like a stole with his feet draped over his chest when we played games or did puzzles!)

    1. Oh, they sound like awesome kitties, Eliza. Sorry they are no longer with you, but what fun memories you have of them.
      Thank you for sharing them with us today.

  12. Fellow farm girl here and I can attest to the stories us farm kids can collect! It is amazing what all happens on a farm. I love that you wrote a book about them! My favorite cat was actually in indoor one who would jump into the dryer when the door was open (and my mom wasn’t in front of it) and then when she came back to reach in for clothes we would hear the blood curdling scream when she touched fur. 🙂 It was hilarious!!

    1. Oh, my gracious! Your poor mother. I’d scream, too. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping in today, Susan.

  13. **very early in the morning at Michelle’s house…. stumbles into the kitchen, rubbing eyes and yawning, trying to finish waking up. Glances at the stove.**

    Hey, what’s that on the stove??? *steps a bit closer to investigate* Eeeeekkkkkkk!!!!!

    **runs to find cell phone, frantically scrolling through for Thane’s number….dialing while bouncing around the kitchen and shivering…. hurry and answer already, SEAL!!**

    Thane!!??!!! Thank GOD! Where are you at?? I need you here NOW!!!!!!!

    *pause* You’re picking up Cobbs? GREAT! You both can come here and rescue me!!

    *pause, hearing the growly SEAL start paying attention* What’s wrong? I have a life and death situation!!!

    *pause while hearing the scary SEAL come to life* Details? You want details?? Fine!!

    *deep breath, holding back another shiver* There is a mouse that’s caught in a trap IN MY STOVE BURNER!!! What?? No, I’m not joking!!

    *ignoring deep, under his breath chuckles* The stupid thing couldn’t die right in the trap and caught it’s back leg instead. Then it got caught in the burner attachment hole thingie trying to escape and now it’s hanging upside down with it’s front paw struck in the electrical connection burner attachment hole thingie and it’s staring at me with big eyes just begging to be put out of it’s misery!!!

    *pauses and hears the chuckles turn into out-and-out laughter* What do I expect you to do about it? Really??? You’re SEALS! You rescue people!! Come help me!!! Stupid thing makes my heart break like little Fido the mouse! But I don’t wanna care!!! I want him dead!!!

    *gasps for a deep breath while hearing roars of laughter over the phone* YES, Thane, I’m breathing!!!

    *growling at the annoying men* Quit laughing at me! You and Cobbs gonna get your rears over here and help me or not?

    *pause* Look outside? Okay… *peeks out the window and sees two SEALs falling out of a pick-up truck laughing* oh YAY!

    *runs to door to open it, hangs up phone, hollers out the door* Quit laughing and get in here!

    *holds laughter inside because now that they’re here, the situation is kinda funny…*

    ~~~~

    I wrote this several years ago as a little “fan fic brought to life” story for a book group I am in. Unfortunately, real life didn’t include me calling SEALS to the rescue (the man on the other line was about as helpful though….), and I ended up having to deal with the creature myself.

    Happy ending to the story? I ended up opening up the trap and the mouse ran away. awww!!

    A few months later? I found a dead 3 legged mouse in a trap.

    1. Good grief! I am laughing at both the story and the 3-legged mouse you later found. Thank you so, so much for sharing that with us! Too fun! 🙂

  14. LOL! Great stories, Shanna! And wow, that was a LOT of cat food that mouse had stored up. She was set for years LOL

    1. Seriously, right? The furnace room in our garage must have been the mouse’s idea of a bomb shelter, complete with all the food it could store. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping in today, Melanie!

  15. Shanna, your stories are hilarious! Thank you for brightening my day!

    1. My pleasure! Thank you for stopping in. So appreciate it!

  16. Yikes it’s stressful just reading! Glad you napped the culprit. I can’t think of anything crazy at the moment, but speaking of intruders as a kid we did get a squirrel in the house somehow (hired someone to get it out).

    1. A squirrel in the house had to have been exciting!
      Thanks for stopping in Darla! Have a wonderful day!

  17. When my father and step mother forgot to fill the oil tank for the heat. That night we slept with our 2 dogs neither one of them would move when my father called them. Just look at him like we ain’t moving we are nice and warm. 3 teenagers and 2 dog between each one of us laying in front of the fire place.

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