Bill Sniffin: What You Do When Things Go Bump In The Night

Patiently, during the entire time of our marriage, I have been awakened in the middle of deep slumber to a voice saying: Honey, did you hear that?

Bill Sniffin

May 02, 20215 min read

Sniffin 1
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, publisher

My nervous “afraid of the dark” wife is amazed that her brave husband will get up in the middle of the night to check out all the strange noises she hears.

This has been going on for more than half a century and, frankly, even I am impressed by my fearlessness.

Patiently, during the entire time of our marriage, I have been awakened in the middle of deep slumber to a voice saying: “Honey, did you hear that?”

I roll over and say, “What? I didn’t hear anything. Go back to sleep, it will be all right.”

A few minutes later: “I can’t sleep. I am worried.”

Now this could be my cue to shush her and go back to sleep.  Other husbands out there who believe in the adage that “a happy wife means a happy life” know what comes next.

You get out of bed and start wandering through the house looking for the offending noise.  You actually make a few noises yourself going down the basement so your wife knows you are down there checking things out.  Sometimes you also have to go upstairs, such as times of high winds when a branch is brushing against the house.

Our house is 41 years old and it rumbles and squeaks all the time.

For years we had a cranky water boiler furnace that creaked and groaned all night during the winter. We got used to it but guests would complain about all that racket. Bill Jones Plumbing installed one of those new hot water systems a few years ago. It quieted that down.

We also used to have a cuckoo clock that we bought in Germany. It would sound off on the hour all night long. Again, our guests went nuts. Finally, it broke and the pieces are sitting in a box. 

Actually, right now, our home is remarkably quiet at night. To me, at least.

One winter, we heard some consistent noises that really were “bumps in the night.”  It was so often and so consistent, I knew it was not a burglar but what the heck was it?

Armed with a spotlight I finally looked under our deck and there were two buck deer with nice racks. During the night as they moved around, their antlers would strike the bottom of the deck, which was not far from our bedroom.  Mystery solved. But there were some sleepless times before we figured that out.

We live on the edge of Lander and there are lots of critters that roam the woods and the Popo Agie river and Big Dickinson Creek, that are on or near our property.  

For years, we had pet ducks.  And there have been dozens of nights where Nancy would wake me up and say she thinks our ducks are being attacked. I would get up and turn on the outside lights. Then I would go out into the dark in a rescue attempt.  Often I would locate a flock of terrified ducks huddled together on the island in our pond.

Obviously a fox or coyote or owl had been in the vicinity.  Sometimes you would find a pile of feathers that revealed that Mother Nature had visited the Sniffin Domestic Lunch Counter that night. Nature is cruel.

Right now, we have five pairs of geese roaming our property. As I mentioned, we live near the river and Big Dickinson Creek flows through our property. We also have some small ponds. These geese have been laying their eggs here for decades.

All night long, the geese are fighting with each other over the best places to lay eggs. It is a true cacophony and, again, I hear those fateful words: “I think something is attacking the geese. Will you check on them?” 

When we first moved to our home just inside the city limits on the extreme edge of town, a local cop mentioned to my wife: “Boy, if I lived down here I would sure keep a gun handy.”  That was 23 years ago and Nancy has never forgotten that.  Never mind that I own 16 guns (I know, I know), she always wonders what we would do if a burglar came by.

Since I make sure the guns are locked up and safe, I am not sure what exactly I would do if a burglar came by. In recent years we have installed two different kinds of security cameras and if some unfortunate burglar did try to break in – I can guarantee you we could handle the situation.

Some friends suggest we get a dog. Our last one died some years ago and I just do not have the heart to replace her.

Besides we plan to get some loud attack ducks later this summer after the geese leave, so they will be our first line of defense.

If that fails, I know that I am sleeping next to an ever vigilant sentry who can literally hear a pin drop 100 yards away.  Who needs a watch dog when you have one of those sleeping in your bed?

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.