Monday, August 11, 2008

Squirrel Lessons

I hate squirrels. They make a huge racket. They leave huge messes. And they are obnoxious house guests. How do I know? Let me tell you a story...

A few days ago we started to notice some odd things in our playroom. Some items knocked over on a windowsill. Other things moved. We'd put them back and they'd be strewn again the next day. As we were cleaning up a huge train set up the other day we noticed something else. A pile of string and insulation laying on the floor below our stove pipe. The stove pipe stuffed full of insulation because we'd long ago removed our Franklin stove on account of the chimney pulling away from the house. Somehow, I'd always thought that there was a more solid seal there. I was wrong.

Dan made plans to get some small gauge wire for rabbit cages or whatever to seal up the hole. We'd were supposed to get it Sunday after church. So, as Sunday morning approached Dan had a kidney stone creep up on him. At 4am he woke me up in pain and we nearly took him to the ER right then. As in I had the car packed and was about to wake up the kids when he called off the dogs. For the moment. Rather than interfering with him trying to sleep (showering, getting dressed, packing a car, and checking on Dan had sort of woken me up good), I decided to doze on the sofa.

That's when I heard the racket. It was LOUD. Whatever it was, was kicking stuff over and making a huge clatter. I ran downstairs. All I saw were my calendars (next to the stove pipe hole area) swinging. Creature gone. This happened three times. As I peered around it became obvious to me that we had a squirrel in our chimney. I was convinced and I was just about to look up squirrel scat when I fell back to sleep. Dan refused to believe we had a squirrel. Mice can be noisy he kept saying. Ok Dan, I'll cut you some slack because you are clearly in pain, but I'm telling you it's a squirrel!

Next stop- Convenient care for Dan and church for us followed by coming back together and heading to Lowe's for the cage material.

We get home. As I'm sitting downstairs I here some scritch scratching above my head near R8's heating duct and I hear some chatter about I-6 seeing a squirrel in the hallway. Dan reassures him there is no squirrel despite the fact that I-6 says he saw it and the squirrel looked at him. A moment later Dan yells, "Everyone out here NOW!" There's a squirrel in the house. What convinced him? Well stuff in our kitchen had been strewn everywhere. There were little presents all over and he moved some breakfast items left behind in our haste to get Dan to the doctor. Oh yeah. It was BAD.

We sent the kids out the door, Dan gloved and booted up and put on his head lamp. He got a large wooden stick and handed one to me. I was the second line. If it got passed him I was to make sure he didn't get past me. I grabbed the baby gate and spread it across the opening. I stood at the ready. I had to clarify.

"Uh Dan, let me just check before you chase him out. Am I supposed to beat the squirrel with this stick when he comes out?"

His answer, "Yes."

Just checking.

In the end, the squirrel was found in R8's room and when Dan flushed it out I screamed loudly thinking it might turn the squirrel around but it just ran down the stairs and we chased it. NO sign of it. Dan waited for almost an hour to be sure it had gone to its nest and nowhere else.

Finally, we made a plan to destroy the nest. It involved the wire screen, the older kids outside with walkie talkies, and my help downstairs as back up.

Dan pushed the screen so that the nest would exit the stove pipe and we could grab it out on the outside from our chimney trap door. When we pushed there were squirrel noises.

The kids were told to inform us should they see a squirrel run out of the chimney. Then we could easily deal with the nest without it being a repeat of Christmas Vacation!

It was long, arduous work and we started to hear more squirrels. Oh no! NOT babies?! Finally, E9 checks in, "I saw a squirrel run out of the chimney!"


After that we pushed more and essentially pulled the nest out of the chimney. Babies and all. Another check in. "Squirrel babies!!"

We think mama squirrel had only been entering our house since the babies had been born- only a few days. I guess she figured after all that she wasn't climbing up the chimney for her usual fair.

But it explains all the stuff being pushed over. And the scat that was way bigger than mouse. And the slashes in our screens. Our screens! That wretched little thing decided to not only push out our screens but slash them!! I hate squirrels. It also walked on my printer- for the record- if there are any problems in the future with my beloved printer I'm blaming the squirrel.

Below are a few pictures. I wish I'd have gotten one with Dan all suited up for battle- boots, jeans, gloves, and a headlamp for chimney extermination.

Operation Squirrel took FOUR hours of our Sunday afternoon!! When it was all over, Dan stuffed many layers of the wire in the hole and he'll do the same for the top of the chimney from the roof. That would be just as soon as he passes the next stone.

After all that we dropped Dan at the ER (despite his valiant efforts, he was still in pain) and went to dinner. Does that sound bad? I did bring him food when we went to pick him up. Dan is just fine. He has quarries for kidneys and I guess a few were/are moving on.

This morning I'm cleaning up after the squirrel AGAIN! This time I think it's for good. J3 keeps following me with his own vacuum saying, "There's squirrel poop everywhere! Someone has to help me!" Mom and Dad...I want a pellet gun for my birthday!

Tools for the job- walkie talkies the kids used to inform us of an escapee.

The babies- these little guys were in our stove pipe. And no...incase you are wondering I do not feel remorse. I hate squirrels. Especially. In. My. House.

Oh? Wondering what kind of squirrel we had? An American Red Squirrel I'm guessing and we had a great conversation about some mammals being born blind and hairless. When we arrived home, the piece of paper above had been pulled under the spruce tree where the squirrel had run when we chased her out. White spruce trees, as it turns out, are a significant food source for red squirrels.

This morning at 2am when it was storming loudly and just pouring terribly, I was hoping we wouldn't hear any panicked scratching at our windows with a red squirrel's ugly face staring crazed at us in the lightening lit night. I wasn't the only one. Dan mentioned the same thing.

I guess we'll chalk this up to another family adventure. At the risk of having to put off my school order AGAIN this summer, I was prepared to beat a squirrel to death in my hallway instead of calling an exterminator. Thursday's coming Dan. Let's just sit still until then so we can be sure and make that order!!

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Michele said...

Oh I am trying not to laugh! I know it isn't funny. But I was so reminded about Christmas Vacation! I am with you, I HATE squirrels. I have never had one in my house though. My reason for hating them is that they constantly destroy my bird feeders. I have threatened that if I had a gun I would shoot them, much to the boys dismay saying I am mean! :)

Jen said...

I once had a squirrel fall out of a tree at my feet--about an inch in front of my face. Not a fan since then.

If this happens again, you totally need to put one of the kids on video duty!!

Edwena said...

I HATE squirrels too! I wouldn't feel bad about the babies either. An exterminator is expensive. We had coons (a momma and 3 babies)in our chimney. We didn't know they were coons, everyone swore it was birds, but when my husband, his father, and my bil got in there they saw a momma coon. I guess they can be mean, to say the least, the momma lost her life. The babies on the other hand were taken to a place where they are fed and then released. Glad everything is settled down now for you.

Alana - The Mommy said...

Mwwwaaahhhhaaahaaa I think you might actually loathe squirrels. Sounds fun, sans the kidney stone!

Hope you are better soon Dan!

deleise said...

Ew! We had them in our attic a couple of years ago. Our scene was similar. It's amazing how those little guys can control the humans like that, huh?

Anonymous said...

When my husband heard your story and saw the pics, his only comment about the baby squirrels was, "It's a shame they don't have a snake." The nerve! His response. "Waste not, want not."

Jana in SoCal

Kendra AU said...

We don't have squirrels in Austraila. ;) It was amusing the first time my inlaws saw squirrels. I was left standing on the steps of Graceland while they took off running to get photos...

Anonymous said...

WOWEEEEEEEEEEEEE! What a day! I hope you dh is feeling better!

Michele (ivy)

Heather said...

LOL Jana!!!! I really wanted to see something spectacular like a hawk swooping down to get them...but we were hungry so we didn't get a chance to see what exactly happened to them.

All I can say is that it took most of yesterday between caring the kids to get the mess out!!!

Seriously. There was squirrel scat on top of my curtain rods...for real.

I really hate squirrels.

Lynn said...

Oh, but my oh my, what an adventure you have had!!! Walkie talkies!!! A second line defense (or would that be offense?). :)

What a Sunday you had. I would NOT want squirrels in my house either!!


Shonda said...

So funny!! That is a great story to tell the grandkids! I especially love that the kids had walkie talkies out front. Love your blog, heather!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe so many people hate squirrels, lol! You must take a look at my blog and what we are doing a unit on next week!