Sunday, July 31, 2016

There's a Porcupine in My Outhouse - Michael J. Tougias

"In 1978, when I was twenty-two, I spent $ 8,500 on a tiny A-frame cabin and six acres of land overlooking a pond in northern Vermont."  Michael Tougias wanted to get away from his office job. He was going to be a mountain man, one of those men he idolized.  But over the next twenty-three years, he learned a lot about the woods and wildlife.  He became someone who didn't want to interfere in nature, but to preserve and protect it.

At first, he was terrified of the noises and creatures he shared his land and cabin with.  The mice drove him crazy, although he wasn't afraid of them.  But all the glowing eyes in the dark, and the rustlings in the bushes, and the screams in the night (he says porcupines mating, but I believe I've heard raccoons screaming while similarly occupied, or fighting).

Along the way, he and his friends Cogs and Boomer had many adventures.  Or should I say, misadventures.  A few times Tougias almost became a statistic.  Even though he knew better in many cases, he did stupid things that could have been tragic.  Wisely not taking a chainsaw up in a pine to cut off the top, but then realizing that he was forty feet up with no safe way down.  You know how it is, you never think it'll happen to you.

I liked his encounters with animals best.  He met a few bears, deer, the porcupine of the title,  a huge raccoon that moved into his loft (I think he could have handled this guest more humanely), coyotes, owls, bats, fishing spiders, foxes, a moose.  He comes to respect them.  It's a learning curve, if you're lucky.

This book was recommended by my friend Kay in Massachusetts.  She gave a copy to our mutual friend Jenny, who just bought a house with a porcupine in the barn.  Very appropriate!


  1. Sounds like an enjoyable read. If only one could buy 6 acres with a cabin for that price today!

    1. It depends on how far from civilization you want to go. You can still buy some decently large pieces of land in the Northeast Kingdom of Maine (, but you're far from anything else. No cabins on most of these, though.

    2. Sorry, that should have been the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. I own land in Maine and I was thinking about that while I was writing.