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