When you commit to a home renovation project, there are many factors to consider. The obvious ones are having enough time and money for what needs to be done. Another imperative consideration is the vast amount of patience needed to spend months and possibly years on the project. The last challenge that brings the most conflict ( in my opinion) is when the house sits vacant and there is a possibility of sneaky, opportunistic critters moving in…
Eight months ago, when we prepared to move in our new home, my husband and I found a few acorn nuts in a corner of the living-room. It was an awkward moment, when I stepped on them and performed a very ungraceful pirouette, landing on scattered tools. Amid the upset tools were various pine boards and a box of very long nails. Surprisingly we quickly dismissed the presence of house guests because it would have thrown a wrench in our timely plan of moving in! Although we both knew there was exterior work ahead, we thought the house would be fine for the time being.
A few summer months passed by…one night a haunting, scratchy noise violated my deep sleep. My thoughts were that a mouse or two were lurking behind the walls and that our trusty mouser, Smokey would take care of them. During a quiet breakfast the next morning, I told Tom of the suspicious noises and he brushed it off. He was sure it was a mouse.
Days were progressively becoming crisper as summer transitioned into fall. The days were hosted with vibrant sunshine and cool nights brought wispy smoke stretching from chimneys. Chipmunks and gray squirrels hurriedly scampered around our yard, gathering their nuts for the long winter. The lush vegetable garden was no longer vivacious but frosted and tired. A dead plant odor hung in the air as well as rotted squashes thrown in the compost. Tom and I cleaned up and put it to bed in silence, as the scurrying chipmunks and squirrels went about their hoarding. We were all preparing for winter, but in very contrasting ways.
While we settled in one night and watched television, there was flitting, rustling movements above us. It almost sounded like there was an apartment of people upstairs. At one point, Tom and I stared at the ceiling in disbelief. Imagine hearing something running about, rolling nuts in between the floors. What wild creature would possibly be leaving the woods and setting up shop in our attic and between our floors? Flying Squirrels. Little reddish brown furry squirrels that resemble the size of a chipmunk and goggle like eyes popping out.
Christmas vacation came along, bringing a once a year energy! There was excitement in the air, as we trimmed our full Christmas tree and Tom’s mom visited from Florida. The puttering and scrambling was long forgotten and we settled in for the holiday festivities.
In the middle of the night, I awoke to a clanging eruption in our kitchen and reluctantly decided to investigate. Padding down the soft carpet, sleep lingered and I couldn’t wait to retire back to our flannel bedding made up like a hibernation nest. Suddenly another loud bang arose from the far end of our kitchen and our skittish older cat, Katy, raced around the corner with fear. I flicked on the kitchen light, curious now of what was going on! Smokey had to be involved, for he is our trusty night patrolman and prowls the downstairs at night, in search of any prey in his path.
What happened next triggered a hysterical EEK from my inner gut! I discovered Smokey wildly chasing a wild rodent of some sort with a big bushy tail across my kitchen floor! I ran upstairs with as much vigor as a seasoned marathon runner! Needless to say Tom and my mother-in-law jumped out of their slumber and Tom flew down the stairs to investigate. It took a few minutes but he trapped it and we all trudged back to bed.
What nerve these house guests had! I know they must have resided here long before we moved in, but it was time for an EVICTION NOW! Just the thought of flying squirrels in the attic and walls made me squeamish. It’s not that I was scared of them but they are wild and rodent like. Sharing our space with critters sent chills up my spine in a bad way.
Weeks have gone by since the first exciting and eery encounter. Tom and Dylan set up havahart traps in our attics, pretty confident in their trapping ability. Days passed with not a spring, even with peanut butter to entice the squirrels. Then one early weekday morning I sat quietly meditating and drinking my first cup of coffee. A steaming cup on my placemat and twinkling white lights lit above the cupboards made a peaceful setting, yet not for long! Suddenly I heard a clattering up in Dylan’s room and frantic running down the stairs. Around the corner plunged Smokey with a flying squirrel dangling from his mouth! Oh no and Tom had left for work 45 minutes earlier! What I would do? There may be a few brave women out there, who would problem solve and capture the squirrel or remove it from the cats mouth. I am not one of those women. After a call to Tom’s work, he showed up with canvas gloves on and handling a small cooler to catch the critter. Thank goodness for a strong, kind husband and his understanding boss!
Now we didn’t want to harm the squirrels and ideally we planned to avoid that altogether. Sometimes things just don’t go as arranged and the last resort is upon you and there is no other choice. A visit to the trusty hardware store and $20 later, Tom and I held a paper bag of wooden rat traps with huge springs, loud enough to really cause a ruckus. Baiting them with creamy peanut butter and sliding them ever so cautiously between the floors, we waited. Within 5 minutes we heard a vicious snap! Five minutes later another loud crack and our population was two less. We thought there were two or three left scampering about.
Snap, snap, snap! Would you believe after a month of diligent trapping and releasing, Tom has caught not two or three, but twenty four flying squirrels! There were times that’s all Tom did after work was check traps, unload them and start the vicious cycle again. He kept a tally on a scrap piece of paper, every time he caught one.
The entire Landaff flying squirrel population flocked here in seek of shelter and we can’t fathom how they found us or how long they stayed. It’s much quieter and serene here now. The only scampering heard now is of two grown cats and sometimes a teenager upstairs on his exercise bike. In the spring Tom and Dylan will patch up the gaping part of our house, shutting out winter visitors. I’m sure we will be telling this story for years to come, but I hope it’s the ending. Eek!