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A Day in the Life

I’m no different than any other 17 year old girl. I go to school, hang out with my friends, go to the occasional party (where there’s parent supervision of course), and I work. Of course my job isn’t typical of a 17 year old. Most of my friends work in the fast food business, or even at a mall or some kind of clothing store. Now don’t get me wrong, I love food and I love clothes, but I would never want to work there. When people ask me about my job I usually tell them I’m a personal assistant for a private contractor. It’s just easier to say that instead of explaining what I actually do. I have the coolest job ever. It’s never boring, and it gives me the most insane stories to tell!

I’ve done everything from wrestling snakes, to saving baby birds! You get so much knowledge from a job like this. You learn all about problem solving. People always have problems like raccoons stuck in their chimneys, skunks in their window well, or even snakes under their porch! Can you even imagine your surprise if you walked out onto your porch one day to see a three foot long blow snake sitting on your porch?! Well, in my experience, not very many people would be very excited about that. Now you may be thinking, what kind of 17 year old girl finds this kind of job entertaining?

I’ve never been the kind of girl who screams when she sees a spider or a snake. I was the girl who was wrestling around with the guys and looking for snakes to take home for the weekend. Now, you would never classify me as the girl who works as a part time trapper. I wear high heels at least three times a week, I never leave the house without my eyebrows filled in. But after school you can catch me crawling under porches, into attics, and even down chimneys in order to catch invasive wildlife! In fact, my favorite part of the job is helping people restore their homes to the peaceful ways they were before the animals invaded. After all, no one wants to hear bats in the attic, raccoons in the chimney, or skunks under the house! Which is why I get so much joy in helping people solve all of their wildlife problems. After all, it’s just another day in the life for me.

A Big Mistake

My favorite story growing up, was the story my mom would tell about my grandma letting a skunk in the house.  Some background on my Grandma Loo, she was partially blind from shooting accident with her brother in her teens.  She also had a large black cat with (as my mom would say) a tail so long a fluffy you could wear it like a boa when you held her in your arms.  Her, my grandfather, and my mom lived on a few acres outside of Midway, Utah, where they raised a few cows, pigs, goats, horses, and chickens.  CoCo (the cat) would stay outside most of the day and night, but would come in if she ever got scared or during storms.

For a few weeks, they were having trouble with raccoons breaking into the chicken pen and killing hens so Pop had set out some traps to catch the critters and keep them away from the chickens.  Mom would tell me the trap was useless sitting there bone dry without any sort of bait in it, how would they catch any animals in it? So when she saw Pop getting frustrated over the lack of animals in the traps, she decided to use some canned chicken to bait the trap and help her dad.  The problem is, she didn’t realize that he hadn’t baited the trap because Loo would’ve killed him if he trapped her precious kitty.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine what happened the night after mom baited the trap – Grandma was sitting in her rocking chair doing I can’t remember what, when she heard the trap outside snap shut and could all of a sudden smell skunk.  Worried that CoCo was sprayed she opened the door to bring her cat inside, and luckily she was standing right on the porch.  Grandma couldn’t get her to come inside, so she opened a can of chicken and left it with the door cracked so she could come in when she wanted and then went to get Pop and tell him the trap had caught something.  When he checked the traps, what he found was grandma’s favorite cat hunched angrily inside and canned chicken on her whiskers.  Grandma Loo was of course startled when he told her because, “she had just let CoCo inside.  Panicked, they searched the house high and low until they found who grandma thought was CoCo.  A large skunk, curled up with it’s tail raised, was hissing defensively inside of the pantry.  Of course, my mom was in trouble for baiting the trap, Loo gave Pop the silent treatment for trapping her kitty, and it took Pop all night to get the skunk out of the house using a trail of anchovies and canned chicken.

Only in the Movies

I think rats are good for a lot of things, like as chefs in a restaurant in Paris or as dinner for Shrek and Donkey; okay basically, they are only good in movies.  What I don’t think rats are good for, are party guests so imagine my dismay when I found out I have rats under my deck DURING a party that I was throwing! I WAS NOT VERY AMUSED THAT’S FOR SURE.  I’m not even necessarily that upset about the rats being there, I mean it’s a rental property it’s not even my problem to pay for.  What I was (and am) upset about, is that I had to find out while sitting in the hot-tub with who could have been the love of my life.

It was like something straight out of the movies man, I can’t believe my (bad) luck.  Picture this: I’m in the hot-tub gazing into the blue eyes of the cutest girl on campus, my buddies and the rest of the girls all went inside to give me some alone time to finally make my move.  As I lean in for what I’m sure would’ve been the most amazing, fireworks kind of a kiss, she screams and shoots to the other side of the tub.  Since it couldn’t have been my breath she was screaming at, I turn around just in time to watch a rat run down the hot-tub steps and under the deck. When my friend Darren looked at me and said the obvious “dude, I think you have rats under your deck”, everyone left as fast as they could, and I could’ve punched him.

Two days later, I haven’t heard from her, and she’s not responding to my texts.  My dreams were shattered by Ratatouille!  She’s going to remember me as the guy with rats in his deck – that sounds like a disease! I don’t want to be that guy! My landlord is calling around trying to find a company to get rid of them, but I’m so angry I could probably tear up the deck and go full Rambo on them.  Hopefully it will get taken care of, and I can be the guy that got rid of the rats under the deck and gets a second chance.  I guess we’ll see.

Cooper the Raccoon

There’s a raccoon in our shed, and unfortunately my son is quite fond of it.  It’s been there all summer and surprisingly it never had babies, so we think it’s a male.  He wanders in and out at night, exploring around the house and going wherever raccoons go.  He’s not afraid of us at all and once when I was sitting outside past dark, he walked right under my deck chair and around the house (which gave me quite the start, of course).  My 6 year-old son Kaden absolutely adores him, and will watch out his bedroom window before bedtime to watch Cooper “leave for his adventures”.  He asks me all the time where he goes, what he does, if I think he meets any other raccoons.  To him, this raccoon is a living story book, but to me, it’s just a pest that guards my shed and everything I’ve stored in there.  The only problem is he guards them FROM US.

We are remodeling our backyard, and unfortunately that means we need to tear down the shed and rebuild it because it’s just a shabby old thing (how do you think a raccoon got into it?)  In order to tear it down we need to move all of the stuff from inside of it, but of course the good ole’ raccoon in the shed isn’t about to just let us walk into his den.  If we try, we are met with growls very angry raccoon eyes; and I am not about to wait until its 10 pm and the raccoon is out on an “adventure” to try and move my things.  I would just block the hole he uses to get in if I didn’t think he would rip it off to get back inside.  And of course I don’t want to lock him inside to starve! Or at least I don’t think I do.

What I really need, is for someone to come and relocate the raccoon from the shed.  Preferably, without Kaden seeing or knowing anything about it, but I’d rather explain to him why Cooper had to go explore somewhere else than why Cooper got smashed inside of the old shed when it was torn down.  The sooner we can get rid of him, the sooner I can get a new shed and the happier I will be! This will be Cooper the Raccoon’s greatest adventure yet.

An Unexpected Move

I have voles in my basement, which sounds crazy considering they live and tunnel under grass.  Honestly, when I heard other people talk about having voles in their homes anywhere, I would roll my eyes because to me it seemed obvious that only mice (not voles) get inside of houses.  I WAS WRONG!  At first, I even thought my own rodent problem was mice and not voles, I was completely convinced that a vole couldn’t get inside, and my husband was more than happy to say “I told you so”, when we got the news.

We have had a very prevalent vole problem since earlier in spring, they tore apart our grass leaving trails and dead grass in their wake; and they killed my husband’s vegetable garden!  They ate through everything they could find including the flower beds; basically, almost everything in our backyard is either dead or dying because of these nasty rodents.  My husband was very upset about the loss of his vegetables, so he decided to start a small garden in the basement and try to get somewhat of a harvest.  What we couldn’t believe was when, somehow, the voles got into the basement and started slowly working their way through that garden as well.

I saw one run from the basement garden to a crack in the wall and vanish, and later that day our dog was barking and digging at the outside part of the home that almost directly lines up with the crack in the basement.  Then, I came face to face with one when I was doing laundry and I couldn’t deny the truth any longer: I had voles in my basement.  Now, we just need to figure out how to REMOVE the voles from the basement, which is our number one priority at this point.  I may have been wrong about what kind of rodent it was, but I’m not wrong when I say that it can’t stay.

Seeing Things

I swear to you, there are mice in my apartment.  For a month now I’ve seen them scurrying around and jumping from place to place, but no one believes me.  I called the landlord right after I saw the first one run out from under the couch and he called a company to perform and inspection – but nothing.  They found zero, zip, zilch, NO evidence of mice anywhere; so I convinced myself it was my brain playing tricks on me.  Until a week later and I watched one jump off the counter and run into the pantry and I KNOW that was not just an illusion. They’re there, but nobody believes me.

In the last two weeks, I just see them everywhere.  Constantly running across the furniture and hiding under gaps and in crevices, but no one will come out and look at the problem.  My landlord doesn’t think they’re there so he won’t call another person to do an inspection, and no one will come out without the landlord’s permission!  I don’t know what to do, there are mice in the apartment; they’re living in the mattresses and the cushions.  The problem is the only signs of them is me actually seeing them.  They haven’t tried to chew through any food in my pantry and I can’t find signs of feces anywhere, but I can smell them.

I just need someone to come help me, or at least someone to see them so I have evidence to my claim instead of everyone thinking I’m batty.  I don’t want to share my apartment with mice, I don’t want to be living with rodents, I want this taken care of!  I don’t know what I have to do to get people to believe me, but I have to do it quickly before it gets worse.  I know there are multiple living here, but its them against me and apparently my word doesn’t mean anything anymore!  I may be old but I’m not senile yet!

A Warm Welcome Home

You know those terrible things that happen and your friends tell you, “you’ll laugh about this someday”; and you’re always so mad that you don’t believe them but a couple years down the road you find yourself retelling the story and in fact, laughing.  Well here I am, four years after my raccoon problem and I’m finally laughing.  At the time, I was living my worst nightmare.  At parties when people brought it up, I’d go red in the face and freak out; but now, I’m the one telling the story, and since everyone else has gotten to hear it, I thought I’d share it with you today.

It was my junior year in college and some girlfriends and I were renting a house near campus.  To us, it was a much better living situation than a dorm or an apartment, especially because the house backed up to the woods which meant lots of parties and night games that we could host.  What we didn’t count on was the wildlife, it was everywhere!  Eventually, we deemed it the Snow White house because there was always some kind of critter in the backyard.  We also didn’t count on the raccoon problem that we would encounter that spring.

It all started with the New Year’s party we threw; it was off the hook!  Honestly, I look back and I’m surprised none of the neighbors called the cops – but then again it was New Years.  We had the hot tub open, bottles of apple cider and champagne, people were having snowball fights and playing capture the flag, my friend’s brother was playing music, everything was great.  Until someone broke out the ski’s, that’s when I should have realized we were in trouble.  He took to the roof with the ole’ red white and blue flying behind them, he flew into the crowd and took out maybe five people with his skis.  Of course it would have been all good fun, except then several other people climbed to the roof to jump into the snow banks.  Unbeknownst to me, someone’s foot went through the roof, and that was the start of the raccoon problem.

A few months later, its spring break and of course my roomies and I head to Mexico for the week.  What we didn’t know, was that a raccoon had used the hole in the roof to move into the attic and when Emma left the attic hatch open after grabbing her suitcase, that the raccoon would come down to explore.  The good thing was that everyone closed their bedroom doors before they left, that is everyone except me.  For seven days, this raccoon ravaged and searched and tore through anything it could find, including my room.  When we got home, I walked upstairs to find everything ripped apart.  Whatever was in my mini fridge was strewn around the room, my sheets were shredded and covered in raccoon poop, even my backpack was torn and its contents were littered around the house.  I was heartbroken and very, very angry, which is why it has taken me four years (and moving into a new house), to be able to laugh about it.

Overrun

I live in a ranch house in a residential neighborhood and have smelled skunk for some time – about a year off and on. However, it has been really bad this year. I leave my windows open because right now my central a/c needs repaired. The smell was so bad a couple of months ago that it woke me up and I had to leave my bedroom. I do have an old shed at the bottom of my yard and the skunk(s) might be under there. The hole was once occupied by a groundhog this past year, but it is gone. There are numerous ways an animal could take up residency underneath the shed. I also have a pile of tree branches and weeds near the shed as I have been trying to clean up my yard. I threw out some bird feed in the grass to attract some birds to entertain my indoor house cat. Last evening, my cat jumped off my lap and made a beeline to my screen door. When I looked out, I saw a skunk walk by. This evening, I closed the door to the screen. When I turned the back porch light on, there was a skunk – about 3 feet from the door eating the seed that I had thrown out a couple of days ago. I have no decks nor porches around my house – just a small cement stoop outside my back door. I have a mature asparagus bed, a two large maple trees (one in front and one in the back) of my yard. Also, bushes around the house and hydrangeas. And I am trying to start a “lasagna” garden with compost (this is near the front of my shed). I have not checked my lawn for holes. I do have a chipmunk and I know that he has burrowed some holes, but these holes are small. I am very concerned and I know that I cannot take care of this problem. My neighbor behind me has a small deck with a small pond, bamboo and oriental grasses, flowers etc… A row of evergreen bushes (around 20 feet high) separate our yards. The neighbors to my right have a wooden shed too. They also have a small pile of wood/junk in the middle of their yard. Their property is not kept very well. So a skunk would have a heyday in any of these back yards – ! including mine. I fear going in my backyard or even front yard once darkness falls. I was afraid to put out my garbage tonight. I just want to rid my yard of these pests, please help!

One Bump, Two Bump, Three Bump More

There’s some kind of animal in my chimney, I would assume a raccoon or a squirrel but I’m not at all sure.  This morning I woke up fairly early, around five o’clock.  I’m nine months pregnant so when the baby tells you to get out of bed and pee, you just get out of bed and don’t look at the clock.  Anyway, I went downstairs to make some tea and toast when all of a sudden I heard a loud thump in the chimney.  It startled me, but I thought it could have just been my mom brain making things up.  I listened carefully at the mouth of the fireplace for any other sounds, and for a minute there was nothing, until I head it stand up and shuffle around.  I quickly closed the damper but other than that I have no clue what to do!

My husband left two weeks ago for New York (he’s stationed there as a pilot), so I have no back up at home to deal with this.  I know when I was younger, my family had a bird fly into our chimney and my dad told me “Veronica, if there’s ever an animal in your fireplace you get it out as quick as you can so it has no chance to settle down.” Of course, it’s much easier to get a bird out of the chimney than a raccoon or squirrel; and that’s not even mentioning the watermelon on my stomach that would keep me from bending down to look up the fireplace (which I have no desire to do).

So no husband in town, no dad to call for help, I am stranded on this with no clue what to do.  I’m trying not to stress out about this too much because there’s no way I’m going to let this animal in the fireplace send me into labor early.  Now maybe it’s a myth or maybe it isn’t, but I won’t be having this baby until my husband gets home next week so I won’t be living with this animal.  I need someone to come out and take care of this, preferably long before I bring my new daughter home.  Help is much more appreciated than advice since I can’t do a lot of stretching, reaching, or moving really.  Please!

Gopher vs. Terrier

This is kind of unusual, but I have a gopher problem in my front and backyard.  Yes, that seems like a normal sentence, but the gopher isn’t my problem.  We’ve actually been living quite harmoniously with the little creature for a couple of years now with no serious issues.  As long as he stays out of my vegetable gardens, I let him dig around and have the time of his life.  I’m a very strong believer that unless an animal has proved itself a danger to you or your things, there’s no reason to harm it or even bother it for that matter. And that is where my problem comes in: I just adopted a Boston terrier.

Now I’m not looking to get rid of my sweet dog, I rescued him from an abusive home and worked very hard to get him back to health and into a mental state where he was ready to live in a home again.  Unfortunately, he thinks that the gopher problem is something that he needs to address and take care of.  Whenever I let him outside, he instantly sniffs out the gopher and tries to dig the little thing out of the ground.  I let him do his thing for the most part, dogs will be dogs I suppose, but when he comes back into the house with small scratches bleeding on his nose and face I have to intervene.

I don’t want to hurt the little gopher, but I don’t know how to get him to leave naturally to another place, and trapping him is way out of my league as a veterinarian.  Shots I can do, your cat needs surgery? I’m all over it.  I am good at helping animals, but I have no idea how to remove them.  So what I’m saying, is I need help to solve this gopher problem.  I don’t know if there are any companies that have a natural removal process for gophers, but I would be very interested in hearing about it.  Of course, if there isn’t I recognize that my dog’s safety is more important than the gophers.