Home Renovation: Fixing up an old 1800's Queen Anne Victorian home.

Squirrel Team 6: Residents of Our Haunted Attic

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Since moving in back in October, we’ve had tenants…of the permanent variety. The same Squirrel Team 6 who causes Ella such daily grief spends their evenings in the space above our bathroom. I can hear them scurrying around up there in the witching hours. During the day, they’re usually out and about in the trees that flank our house, collecting nuts like the apocalypse is upon them, and sending my pup into fits of hysteria. (Our huge windows aren’t always an asset, it turns out.)

Attic Renovation

I can’t wait to have people staying with us who hear the squirrels and assume it’s the past residents of this haunted Victorian home. Next year, we should definitely take advantage of our property for Halloween!

But it’s not our visitors that bother me; sure, the noise gets annoying at times, and it drives Ella crazy, as she claws at the walls trying to get into them to find her prey. It’s the fact that the 110-year-old bark insulation blows directly through the vent (we currently don’t have them covered; this is going to come into play later on in the post) and into our sink nonstop, pretty much rendering our master bath (if you can call it such) unusable. So this past weekend when the weather thwarted our plans to dig holes for the fence posts, we finally did something about the attic situation.

Attic Renovation

We rented an industrial insulation vacuum, aptly called The Colonel, from a nearby equipment rental facility. This bad boy was not cheap, at $125 a day, but we got a quote from a local handyman to do our dirty work that exceeded $1,000 so we figured we were at least saving some money tackling it ourselves.

I have been actively avoiding going into our attic because, well, we don’t actually know what’s up there (other than the squirrels). SVV kitted himself out in a hazmat suit because there were some tight crawl spaces he had to shimmy through—prompting me to say, “yo! Mr. White!” whenever I needed his attention—and I stayed on the ground to man the Colonel.

Attic Renovation

I always am quite proud of my lack of fear when it comes to things like heights, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared when climbing that shaky 30-foot ladder into the attic window to take SVV the hose. Glad I only had to do it once! First up, though, we had to discard all the crap that resided in the attic. The previous tenants sure left a lot of things behind; how kind of them.

Attic Renovation

Then, we rigged the Colonel and were ready to go. Only, what we didn’t account for was how quickly the $30 bags would tear from the insulation. OOPS.

Home Renovation: Fixing up an old 1800's Queen Anne Victorian home.

It took a lot of duct tape and problem-solving to even be able to fill them halfway, and by the end of the first hour, I was covered in bark and bits of insulation.

Home Renovation: Fixing up an old 1800's Queen Anne Victorian home.

Meanwhile, our foreman monitored things from inside the Florida room.

Attic Renovation

SVV joked on Instagram about how he was vacuuming “rat shit, ground-up bark and squirrel-stashed pecans,” but in reality, he was very careful to make sure there were no squirrel nests before he sucked up the insulation. C’mon, you guys surely know what animal lovers we are by now!

Home Renovation: Fixing up an old 1800's Queen Anne Victorian home.

By Sunday afternoon when the rains came again, we had tackled about 75 percent of the attic and are going to complete the rest at a later date with a shop vac. Eventually, after we replace our roof this summer, we will lay down plywood, throw up some sheetrock walls and turn this space into a craft/bonus room. It’s huge, fun layout, but we’ll be limited on what we can lug up there, as it’s accessed via a pull-down entry in our upstairs hallway.

Attic Renovation

Still, my craftsman of a husband needs a nice big space to set up his painting supplies and his sewing machine (true story), and I envision a big drafting table in the middle of the room, as I’m currently using our dining room table to lay out my bigger projects, which kind of interferes with our meals.

Attic Renovation

But now onto the second part of the story.

Yesterday, I was pounding away at a couple magazine deadlines for Entrepreneur when I heard a massive crash from upstairs. At first, I just assumed our painter was back, as he’s been scraping lead paint from our exterior for a month now, but then I realized it was snowing out and there was no way he’s working. Then I heard Ella tear down the hallway so I bolted up the back staircase.

She had something cornered behind the armoire. I thought it was a rat. Ewwwww. But upon further investigation, I realized it was a baby squirrel. I also figured out then that our theory that Ella would kill a squirrel if given the opportunity was correct as she was trying to squeeze into the space by the armoire and make that squirrel her own. So I locked her in the bathroom, as she tried to break down the door, all six pounds of white, fluffy brawn.

Squirrels in the House

Meanwhile, I had no idea what to do. It was 2pm, SVV was at work, and during tax season, there’s no way he could come home early. As I babysat the squirrel and made sure he (she?) didn’t run off, SVV called our local Animal Control—with whom we’ve become chummy after they had to come and remove baby SNAKES from our basement on two separate occasions—and I kid you not, this was their response: “Bubba, they don’t let us mess with no squirrel. We had us a trap but the durn post office borrowed it and did whatever they did with it an we ain’t got it back.” Charming. We were on our own.

Well, I did what I do best: I Facebooked the situation, and I tagged my friend Hannah and half-jokingly asked if she was around. Not three minutes later, she was at my door. On the way back from work in Chattanooga, she just happened to be at my Interstate exit the second she got the Facebook ping. I’m just lucky my neighbors are as addicted to social media as I am!

Hannah, you may recall, is a college professor who also has a hobby farm. She arrived in boots and a minidress, and immediately hunkered down on the floor to trap the baby squirrel while I got a dog crate ready to catch him. Well, he bolted between her legs, and we temporarily lost sight of him, until in my periphery, I saw him crawl under my bed across the hall.

Squirrel in the House

We went into the master and shut the door. Then all Hell broke loose. Hannah and I were cornering the poor baby, and he tried to run up walls and escape. We tried not to scare him, as we didn’t want him to have a heart attack. Eventually, he scuttled into a pile of my clothes—good thing I haven’t cleaned in awhile!—and she was able to trap him under a blanket as we wrestled him into the crate. I only wish my iPhone hadn’t been full, as I would have been filming this whole effort!s

Squirrel in the House

Hannah knows a lot about everything, and she could tell he wasn’t a juvenile and that he was to the point where he could be out in the wild, or at least close to it.

Squirrel in the House

So rather than rehabbing him, we took him to the front yard and let him loose; he took the opportunity for the jailbreak and joined the rest of Squirrel Team 6 in the tree on our side yard. So long, little guy.

Attic Renovation

Or so I thought. I heard him above the bathroom again today—he must have slipped down through said uncovered vent before—but Hannah had me stuff sheets up into it, so he doesn’t fall through again. Let’s hope that theory holds until we have the foresight to get some covers up….

Never a dull moment, folks.

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COMMENTS
  • March 27, 2013

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That poor squirrel, s/he picked the WRONG house to fall into!

    Love this post. Can’t wait to see more of the reno once things are completed!

    • March 27, 2013

      I mean, could I just have a NORMAL day for a change? I’m beginning to think I bring these situations upon myself somehow!

  • March 27, 2013

    Uninvited critters freak me out but these are pretty cute!

    • March 28, 2013

      Babies are less scary than full-grown squirrels, though I’m not quite sure why…

  • March 28, 2013
    Kendra

    I’m sort of happy I am not the only one with a life that is always full of such excitment.

    And now you’ve reminded of our very own “snakes in the basement” (which I would like to erase from my memory)! I will take squirrels over snakes any day, although I would still be screaming like a girl with a squirrel running around the house.

    Also, you two are very impressive with your with your hands-on approach to remodeling.

    • March 28, 2013

      Do you think we bring it upon ourselves? Our snakes were baby copperheads! Eeek! Luckily, it was winter and they died from the cold. We never did find the mama…

  • March 28, 2013

    Aww.. I’m glad you saved the baby squirrel. My cat once brought a baby bunny into our house and I didn’t even know it was there until I heard it scratching under our dresser (possibly days later).

    • April 10, 2013

      Awwww, I sure hope it survived!

  • March 28, 2013

    Looks like you made quite a lot of cleaning. Glad you were able to save the squirrel. She looks so scared.

    • April 10, 2013

      S/he came back yesterday and was just chilling on our porch! I think s/he misses Ella ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • March 29, 2013
    Haidang

    This is one wild post. Wow!

    • April 10, 2013

      You know me, things are never boring around here ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • April 10, 2013
        Haidang

        the chivas helps ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • March 30, 2013
    joan

    love this story! It reminds me of the many days Ken and I have spent working together on an amazing variety and number of home projects. So glad to see Scott geared up safely, but climbing that 30′ ladder? I don’t think I could have done it. The attic will be fabulous when done.

    • April 10, 2013

      Can you believe he made his wife risk her own life like that? How rude! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • April 8, 2013

    Oh! Isn’t homeownership neat?!?

    Also, I’m afraid of my attic to. We opened it up and peeked up there when we had the home inspection done before we moved in 4.5 years ago and I’ve been afraid to peek up there every since…It’s on the list though, just to be sure there isn’t a colony of critters living up there.

    • April 10, 2013

      Good thing we have husbands to do the dirty work for us. You’ll have to wait until Andrew is home to check it out for you!

  • April 16, 2013
    Sid

    โ€œBubba, they donโ€™t let us mess with no squirrel. We had us a trap but the durn post office borrowed it and did whatever they did with it an we ainโ€™t got it back.โ€ I had to read that sentence TWICE before I understood what was said. Y’all speak funny in the South.

  • January 6, 2015

    Loved the way you rescued that baby squirrel and let him go. Looks like you enjoyed a lot while catching those. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • August 17, 2017

    I am with you buddy. That every time I see an attic I was terrified and scared not because of the ghost but with the mess. I am looking towards the finale of your innovation.

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