Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Unwelcome Guest

I was out with a friend when I received a phone call from my pre-teen son.
"Mom." Then the phone hung up.
As a mom, we are prepared for any emergency. But dad was home, it was well past Tylers' bedtime, and before I let my mind start racing with unspoken possibilities... I called him back.

He answered immediately. "Mom, there is a racoon in the basement. I saw him eating the cat food."

Whew. Of all the things it could have been, I was relieved.
For a brief second.

Oh my - a real racoon in my basement?? Last week it was a chicken. Really.
Or a pheasant, or some sort of fowl.

Mice, bugs, spiders. Those are all expected in an old house. Even a stray bat would be understandable. Racoons? Chickens???

As I dropped my friend off and headed home to survey the situation (or at least to be a part of the action!!), I thought how the night before I couldn't sleep due to the amount of little children that had infiltrated my bed in the dark of night. After squirming between kicking legs and little arms that assault my slumber, I trudge downstairs to the couch with my pillow to see if I can redeem the night with a few hours of shut eye.

Five minutes into my peacefulness, I hear a scritch-scratching sound in the livingroom wall directly behind the entertainment center, and by the time I jumped up from my pillow, I had convinced myself the critter in the wall was waiting to jump out at me as I snuck past it's hiding place, and a wrestling match would ensue, most likely making me the loser.

I sprinted upstairs, woke up Mike, and told him of the dangers that awaited us in the livingroom. He grabbed a flashlight, peered in any and every oriface in the vacinity, and deemed our habitat was safe. We sat quietly until the scritch-scratching began again.

"It's definately too big to be a mouse."
"A rat?" I asked, with a frown.
"Nope, but maybe a squirrel or chipmunk."
Oh man, those little critters lost their appeal immediately. They are not adorable cartoon characters when they are in the walls of our farm house.

So, back to the racoon eating our cat food. It dawned on me that this must have been the wall terror of the night before. It must have been looking for a way to get out, but how did it get in?

Through a series of detective work, Mike found the opening. He closed it, hoping the critter didn't stay in the old crawlspace, but he set a trap inside for 2 days (not effective) and then outside the old access doorway for another 2 days. We did catch a young opposum, but that was not what Tyler had seen devouring our cat food.
(and yes, the children wanted to keep it as a pet, but had to say goodbye when we released it into the woods at the back of our property.)

Back to this weekend. Figuring we had secured the entrance into our basement (which was my big concern!) how would be make sure it was not setting up (or continuing!) housekeeping in our crawl space?

Walmart to the rescue. Mike determined we could bug bomb the crawlspace, and after we chased the critter convent out of our dank, dark area where no one ever wants to go, he could repair the ancient doorway that had rotten under our deck which lead to the start of our unwelcome guest in the basement in the first place.

I think we took every bug bombing kit on the store shelves, set them off, spent the day running errands and having fun, and returned to replace the rotted doorway with a new one that would secure the space that future critters could not infiltrate.

Success. I think. No other sightings, nothing else going bump in the night.
Well, except the human critters that somehow always find their way back into my dreams and my sleeping space.

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