Beaver Dam

get rid of beaverSploosh, drip drip, shooooosh. I looked around and couldn’t believe the damage I saw swirling in the water around me, all thanks to a beaver dam on the stream running through my property.

I’d bought the small place because of its idyllic location.  It wasn’t a mansion, by any standards, but it was beautiful; rather it was an older small farm house tucked away in a sunny, green valley.  My whole life I’d wanted a place like this, but never thought it was a possibility, because I grew up, lived and worked in the city.  But, one day, I woke up and realized I could change my lifestyle any time I wanted, as long as I was willing to make the change and give up some things like the good money I was making and the huge amounts of stress and the wasted hours that went into making that money.  So, I gave them up and made the change.

I looked at a lot of places around the state, but fell in love the moment my realtor and I drove up.  It was absolutely perfect.  A small home on a lot of land.  A well-established garden was out back, complete with an herb garden for the kitchen.  The small stream wandered through the property and a beautiful, large willow tree offered stream-side shade.  I got a job where I could work from home, and sat under the willow tree in the summer, typing and enjoying the quiet outdoors.

Then, the beavers moved in.  Just two of them, but they found my property as idyllic as I did.  At first, I loved watching them from afar, swimming and diving and busily building their beaver dam.  The stream was just a little too fast for them to make their home in the bank and do all the things that beavers do, so they had to do something to slow the water. Being from the city, it never occurred to me that I should start to worry about the effects of that beaver dam.

The first sign of trouble was I noticed water encroaching on my beloved herb garden.  I wasn’t sure whether to shrug and let nature do its thing, or if I should do something about the beaver dam.  Time passed and I figured it just made it easier to water the garden.

With the stream being diverted in some places and pooling in others, I naively enjoyed watching the other wildlife that was attracted to my property.  More birds than ever made the willow their home or skimmed across the surface of the stream to catch the bugs flitting right above the water.  Deer prints and little raccoon prints dotted the new little wetland area the beavers had created.  I thought I was in heaven.

And then came the day when I went down into the basement for something and found a few inches of water stagnating on the basement floor and seeping into my stored belongings.  The beaver dam had diverted the water just enough that it found its way into my perfect little place.  I’d let nature do its thing, and it did, much to my expense and regret.

Armadillo Digging

Armadillo eating a worm
Armadillo eating a worm after it has dug a hole in your yard.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

“Bad dog!  Bad dog!”  She waved my finger in my face, frowning and angry, and I had no way to tell her the holes in the yard were there because an armadillo was digging the past few nights, not me.

My tail drooped.  It’s annoying how my tail tends to do that even when I know I haven’t done anything wrong.  She gets that mad face and talks sternly and my traitor tail just droops like it has a shame of its own.

I tried to tell her with my eyes that the damage done to the yard was done by a nocturnal creature, who only thinks it’s cute and harmless.  My ears perked forward.  “Please, please try to understand me,” my whine said.

She doesn’t own the place, it’s a rental, but she takes care of it well enough since she and I have called it home for the past five years.  We’ve had lots of romps out there when the weather’s good, and I chase down snowballs when it’s cold.  My favorite is when she blows through a small stick and these mysterious shiny, round things float up into the air.  She laughs so hard as I jump and snatch at them, keeping them from flying away.  We have good times here, so it’s my job to make sure she and this place stay nice and safe.

The night before, I’d been on patrol in the yard, making sure everything was as it should be.  Porch chairs safe, check.  Barbeque tucked away, check.  Shrubs in place, check.  My eyes shined bright in the dark and my nose made sure the only smells in the yard were the ones that should be there.  Until something scratched at the back fence.  I was completely alert in milliseconds, snuffling, growling, warning.  But it just came through anyway.

It was an alien.  Long snout, small ears perked up, claws that wouldn’t stop.  I’d heard of this from some of the dogs at the dog park.  It was an armadillo digging in MY yard, and it acted like it completely ignored me.

Perplexed, I backed off a little.  I wanted to watch it for a while, get to know my enemy before I attacked, just to make sure it didn’t have any nasty tricks.  Turns out, that was my undoing, because that armadillo dug as fast as it could into the grass and down into the dirt, grabbing at any bugs it unearthed.  I bounded forward and barked, and it jumped straight up into the air, landed and shuffled quickly off to another part of the yard.  Before I knew it, the armadillo digging had recommenced.  I decided enough was enough.  I was going to chase it out of my yard despite any tricks it might have.  Full-on assault.  I barked, chased, growled, swatted and it finally disappeared back under the fence.

I felt great and successful and proud of the night’s work, until the next morning when she came out.  All she saw was something had dug holes around her yard, and I was the only creature in sight capable of causing such damage.  Before I knew it, I was berated and punished, and she couldn’t understand my efforts at telling her the real story.  She’ll find out, though.  If that armadillo comes back to dig again tonight, I’ll be tied up, incapable of digging holes like that.  Then, she’ll get someone to take care of the armadillo problem and she and I will be back to chasing shiny round floaty balls all over the yard again.

Mole Hills and Mole Tunnels

Your typical, yard ruining, mole.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I do all the work, swimming through the dirt to create all my mole tunnels and surfacing all over the place, carefully displacing dirt to make mole hills.  So, why is it that voles think they can just move on in?  They’re perfectly capable of making their own tunnel system and burrows.  So, why use mine?

I don’t think I do too much damage to a yard.  Well, sure, you’ll have to deal with mole hills damaging a mower blade or two.  Or, someone might trip in a hole, twisting an ankle.  And, although I don’t mean to, I’ll often dig the dirt away from roots in my never-ending quest for grubs, but I’m not after your plants.  I eat grubs and insects, so I’m not munching on flower bulbs or grass roots or chewing on vegetables in the garden.  I just do my thing, sometimes making mole tunnels as fast as 18 feet an hour, making little mounds of dirt every now and then, just the bare minimums of what I need.  We can co-exist, right?  You don’t mind a little bit of mole damage, I’m sure.

But, when these opportunistic and lazy voles move in, and run rampant through my mole tunnels, popping in and out of my mole hills all proud like they’re the ones who are in control, it makes me so upset.  They’ll happily infest my mole tunnels and gobble up the roots I’ve accidentally laid bare, and I know how mad that makes you.  It’s hard enough to deal with subsurface tunnels, but to have dead grass making them stand out must be very irritating to you.  I know we can coexist, but voles are a pest to both of us.  They’ll use my tunnels to hide from predators and your pets, and safely access your garden, flower bed, ornamental trees and devour as much as they can cram into their stomachs.

I just want an understanding between us, that we moles are not eating our way through your property.  Think of us more like pest control.  We’re eating the grubs, larvae and insects that cause yard and garden damage, so let’s not focus too much on a few necessary mole hills or mole tunnels, or accidental plant damage.  But, voles aren’t here to help you.  They take advantage of me and the plants you so carefully planted and tend.

So, just to be clear, I’m suggesting you exterminate the voles and let me go about my business helping rid your yard and garden of other pests.  And, maybe you won’t get so upset over a few random but necessary mole hills and mole tunnels.  I’m very good at what I do, but not when voles move into my house.  Let’s work together to get rid of our vole problem.

Dead Gopher

I thought gopher holes were bad enough, but a dead gopher in the flower bed is pretty nasty.  It’d be great news if it were the only gopher I’ve been fighting, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle with gophers for about two years running, and I know there’s a lot more out there than just this one.

I’ve spent a lot of years maintaining the landscaping around this historical home.  The place is now run as a museum, and there are a few caretakers, but I’m the only one who tends to the yard, the gardens and the flower beds.  I’ve taken a lot of pride in making sure the place looks pristine from the outside, making sure everything looks just perfect when a tour bus rolls up or some nice family from a few states over stop by during their road trip.  That’s why I got so mad when I showed up for work one day and discovered gopher holes all over the side yard.  Big mounds of fresh dirt were like scars on the deep green grass I had so carefully tended.  Going over to investigate, sure enough, there were little plugs of grass and roots in the holes, a sure sign some gopher’s been tunneling down there and throwing the dirt up around the gopher holes.

Mad as heck, I thought I could take care of a little gopher problem.  I didn’t want it turning into a big gopher problem.  I knew they’d do more than mess up the landscaping view.  They were bound to get into the vegetable garden sometime or destroy some of the well-established trees along the drive.  They might uproot the sprinkler system I installed or chew water lines or underground cables.  No, I knew I had to stop the gophers.

So, I’ve been trying everything possible, but I’m still finding fresh gopher holes all over the landscaping.  One morning, some of the tourists spotted a skunk digging frantically at the ground like a dog, tearing up the grass even further.  It was on the hunt for a gopher.  Part of me was rooting for the skunk, and part of me was just mad that gophers had now brought skunks onto the property.

Earlier this morning, I walked by one of the flower beds, and reached down casually to pull up a couple of weeds with my bare hands.  I wasn’t paying too much attention, so when my hand closed around something furry instead of a weed, you can imagine my surprise.  I jumped back, and I’d like to think I didn’t yelp, and looked down at the ground.  Sure enough, dead gopher.  Bloated, maggoty, nasty dead gopher.  And I’d touched it with my bare hands.  Not to mention, there were a bunch of black flies swarming around the flower bed I so carefully maintained.  First order of business was to scrub and sanitize my hand until I stopped shuddering.  Next, get someone who does nothing but get rid of gophers and other such animals for a living.  I’m tired of fighting them off by myself.  It’s time to call in the big guns.  They can fix the gopher holes and remove the dead gopher while they’re at it.  I can go back to happily tending flower gardens, pruning trees and keeping the lawn green.

Dead Squirrels

squirrel removalAll right, some bizarre or perverse people will do some really weird things with a dead squirrel, in the name of “good, not-so-clean” fun.  They’ll put them in shadow boxes, stuff them and set them up in little scenes, strap them to the hood of their car, take funny pictures, throw them at other people, and one company’s even made beer bottles out of them.  It’s enough to make you shake your head and wonder about humanity.

But, when you have a dead squirrel rotting away in your walls, it is no laughing matter, and you really don’t care about the state of humanity.  You just want that dead squirrel removed as quickly as possible.

Maybe the squirrel got into the attic by chewing a small crack in the soffit just a little bit wider, or squeezing through a small hole next to a vent that wasn’t sealed properly.  Most species of squirrels have several dens in their territory, and that can include your walls, your attic, your chimney, or wherever else looks like a nice, warm and protected space.

Once inside, the squirrel found the joys of insulation, which doesn’t irritate its skin the way it irritates ours.  Maybe you’ve got some personal property stored up there, and it gnawed its way through a box and went exploring through your stuff, urinating and defecating wherever it pleased and stealing things to use for its nest.  It has to constantly chew on things, and plastic boxes, wiring, soft metals, cardboard, and wood are great materials for it to use to file its teeth down.

Squirrels love to explore, and it ran all over your building, chewing, contaminating, investigating.  Then one day, it went the way of all living creatures and passed away in a wall space.  You didn’t even know the dead squirrel was there, until the smell in that room got stronger and stronger and bad and then worse.  Maybe flies found it quickly and laid eggs, which developed into maggots, which then became flies, and now you have a fly problem in your building.  Maybe it’s just the odor of decomposing flesh that’s overpowering you.  Maybe there’s more than one dead squirrel rotting away in there.

Suddenly, stuffed squirrels posed to look like they’re doing the cha-cha isn’t so charming anymore.  You want that dead squirrel removed and quick, and you want to make sure you don’t have any other squirrels living inside your building.  That’s when it’s time to contact a wildlife removal professional.  They can take care of the problem for you, and then maybe you can book a vacation to tour the museum full of dead squirrels posed as famous Americans.  Hey, whatever tickles your funny bone.

How To Get Rid Of Feral Cats

“John, we’ve got to get someone who knows how to get rid of feral cats out here as soon as possible if we’re going to have any chance of selling the house.”

“I just wish your Dad never fed them.  They just keep coming back and breeding right there on the property.”

“I know, I know.  I keep telling him, but he swears they’re all his pets.”

“His pets?  But there’s got to be at least twenty of them.  The neighbors say they’re out there yowling day and night and one of them clawed its way into their crawlspace the other night.  They kind of hinted that we pay for the damage.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, John.  It was hard enough to get him to agree to move out of the house and into the condo we got him in the senior community close by.  It’s just killing me to see him going through this, especially so soon after Mom passed away.”

“But, he seems like he’s enjoying himself there.  There’s so much less for him to have to take care of.  He can just be himself, work on his birdhouses, and not have to worry about mowing or weeding or anything else.  But, hon, I know this is hard on you, too.  You’ve been a champion handling everything.”

“And you’ve been wonderful and so supportive.  It’s just so hard to be packing up his house, all the memories, all the stuff.  And, then to have to deal with this, these feral cats.  I keep going out there and trying to scare them off myself.  I’d hoped that they’d just go away since I convinced Dad to stop feeding them.  It’s just no good.  Lisa suggested we try playing really loud music to try to get them to leave, but you know how my sister is.  Can you imagine what Dad’s neighbors would say then?”

“Yes, well, Lisa’s not here, is she?  Probably a good thing.”

“Ha!  I’ll say!  Well, I think we can probably have the house packed up in another few days, and then I’ll clean it.  I’ll feel better showing the house when it’s cleaned and . . . “

“And if we just got rid of those feral cats?”

“Exactly.  I haven’t been out to the shed yet, but I’m afraid they may have really done some damage in there, or to the shed itself.  There’s an awful smell coming from there.”

“Tell you what, hon.  You’ve got enough on your mind.  Let me worry about the shed.  In fact, let me make the phone call and get a professional out here who knows how to get rid of feral cats.”

“That would be such a help!  Then, I can call the realtor and we can put the house on the  market.  It’s hard enough, I can’t wait for this all to be over.”

“I know, but you’ve been handling it great.  We’ll do it together.  And, it helps to know you’re doing the best for your Dad, right?”

“Thanks for that.  Yes, he even said he’s got a date tonight.  Can you believe that?  Already!”

“Really?  Does she like cats?”

Porcupine Problem

Ah, night, the perfect time for me to come out and cause all kinds of porcupine problems.  I’m really a very gentle creature, despite the quills, but for some reason, people don’t like me very much.  I think I’m pretty cute, with my little precious face and my tiny little paws, and my quills all laid back when I’m happy.  But, destroy a few trees, dig up a little yard, and all of a sudden you’re the bad guy.

Really, it’s not that big a deal.  It’s just your trees are so perfectly wonderful to eat.  I just can’t stop myself when they’re young and tender like that.  Sure, a few trees die because my gnawing leaves them prone to disease, but a porcupine’s gotta eat, right?  And, those tender vegetable plants in the garden.  That was so very kind of you to spend all that time and money planting those and taking care of them so that I could have a tasty treat when I emerged from the woods onto your property.  You assumed they were eaten by rabbits, and I was happy to let rabbits take the blame.  But, I guess at some point you figured out you had a porcupine problem.  I wonder what gave it away.

Oh, it might have been that wonderful plywood you’d stacked by your shed.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted that and waddled over.  You people create the most wonderful things to eat.  That laminate glue that holds each plywood layer together is just so delectable.  What a delicacy.  I just gnawed and gnawed on that all night long until most of it was gone.  I think that may have been when you realized the tree girdling and destroyed garden plants was my work instead of some other creature.

I did not enjoy your dog’s presence the night after the plywood incident.  I guess he was supposed to scare me off, but he just came right at me like he was going to attack and eat me, so I had to defend myself.  All I did was stick my quills up.  I didn’t throw them, I can’t throw them.  So, it was your dog’s fault, really, to end up with a mouth full of quills.  I feel bad for the guy, I really do, but I couldn’t just let myself become dog food over a little plywood incident.  He’ll live.  It’ll be painful for a while, but he’ll live.  And, lucky for me, so will I.

I gotta admit, the tool shed is looking really intriguing.  I might have to investigate it tonight.  I’m hoping to find some sweat-soaked wooden handles I can chew up.  Mmmm, salt!  I can’t get enough of it.  I’m sorry you think you have a porcupine problem, but your property is just so darned inviting.  I think I might dig up against the warm foundation of your home and set up a den.  It just seems too perfect a place to give up right now.

Feral Cat Problems

Nah, we don’t have a feral cat problem, do we?  I mean, sure, I’ve noticed a lot of feral cats wandering the neighborhood and the farms around here, but that’s just nature, right?  They stick to the farm and get rid of the rodents in the area, and we’re all good.

Okay, sure, sometimes there’s the nighttime activities, the yowling, the fighting, the hissing.  But, what am I supposed to do about it?  They’re just cats, and harmless enough.  My neighbor even puts food out every night to feed them, and they sometimes let her pet them.  So, they can’t be all that bad.

Or so I thought.  I didn’t realize just how bad a feral cat problem could be, and then I got a first-hand lesson.

I was startled out of my sleep one night by a terrific crash and banging coming from my garage.  I had no idea what was going on, but, my heart pounding, I ran down there to see what on earth was happening.  A feral cat had somehow gotten in there, attracted by the warmth, I think, and made an unholy mess.  My work bench looked like someone had just given it a really good shake.  The box with my holiday decorations was overturned.  The window screen was torn and the shade covering the window was shredded and lying on the floor.  The place smelled like cat urine.  My dog was howling and barking and waking up the rest of the neighborhood, I was sure.  At least he was in the house, still.

I had to look around to locate the cat, but I guess it felt cornered, because it hissed mightily and came right at me, streaking by my leg.  I finally came to my senses long enough to open the garage door a little so it could get out.

What if it had gotten inside the house?  It could have really done some damage in my kitchen or laundry room.  Would it have attacked my dog?  Who knows what parasites are on it.  Fleas, ticks, mites.  Yuck!  I don’t want those in my house.  No, if my neighbor wants to feed them, that’s her business.  But, I’m not going to stand for wild animals destroying my things and infesting my home.

Okay, I feel bad for the lady next door, because I know she loves these little wild animals.  Granted, from a distance, they’re sweet-looking, all fuzzy and cute.  But, I got to deal with one up close and it’s not so cute anymore.  The only thing I know to do is to call a professional wild animal removal service to take care of my feral cat problem.  If they’ll handle it discreetly, maybe we can make sure I don’t have to spend late nights cleaning up their mess in my garage anymore.

Opossum Problems

It’s unbelievable, this opossum problem we have in this home!  I mean, I’m the alpha dog here, the top Chihuahua, and this, this opossum comes strolling into my home again and again and helps himself to the fruit lying on the counter.  I’m not even allowed on that counter top, how dare he?!  And I have fleas now, thank you very much.  I’m an extremely clean dog, and this flea-ridden opossum walks right in, and now I’m infected.  It’s awful.  The itching is so bad I’m scratching and biting myself just to make it stop, and my people have to put special medicine on me, and it’s all the fault of this big, toothy creature.

So, how did he get in here in the first place?  He was digging up against the kitchen wall to make a den and just kept digging.  He must have thought he’d hit the mother lode.  Warm home, plenty of food, my water bowl.  Turns out he preferred hanging out in the cabinet under the sink, next to the dishwasher, of all places.  That’s where all the canned foods are kept, including my dog food!  He just comes out, helps himself to whatever he can find on the counter or the floor, and then retreats to his little cabinet.  Never mind the fleas, never mind the fact that this is my home.  He’s the worst uninvited house guest ever!

Oh, and the poop.  That is the biggest, smelliest stuff I’ve ever had the displeasure of sniffing, and believe me, I’ve sniffed plenty.  It’s the worst part about this opossum problem.  Big Rufus down the street ain’t got nothin’ on this thing.

I got blamed for some of the mess, at first, which was just unpleasant.  I would never behave so atrociously, so horrifically.  I’m house-trained, a proper dog, a clean dog, and still I got blamed.  Fortunately, my people figured it out pretty quick.  They called a service, a real professional wildlife removal service, and they came out and set a trap.  My people are lucky to have me, because I showed them right where the worst opossum droppings were, and barked at the cabinet long enough for them to realize that would be the best place to set the trap.

The night they set that trap, I was so excited.  I just knew we’d finally be rid of our opossum problem and be able to go on with our lives.  I curled up at my people’s feet and dreamt of taking the house back.  First thing the next morning, well, I took care of my business.  That’s what a trained house dog does.  But, the second thing the next morning, I was down in the kitchen, and barking my head off.  It had worked!  That sucker was stuck in the trap under the cabinet, sure enough.  The trapper was coming to remove it and I was getting my house back in order, the way it should be.

Squirrel Problems

Squirrel on a branch
Squirrel on a branch, waiting to come inside.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I just moved into my apartment about two months ago, and now I have squirrel problems.

All of a sudden, I have a new roommate who’s just driving me crazy.  He comes and goes whenever he pleases.  He acts like he owns the place.  He takes some of my stuff, and breaks other stuff – he ripped a hole right in the window screen and doesn’t even care.  He’s always loud, especially in the morning, knocking things over, constantly going in and out of my place, feet pounding and waking me up.

My poor cat doesn’t know what to make of it all.  She just sits there watching it, trying to stay out of his way.  He acts like she’s not there and will even step on her from time to time.  Once, he picked up her cat food and walked off with it.  I was gone that morning, so I didn’t notice until I got back from work that night.

Then, one day, he disappeared behind my entertainment center and stripped some of the wires back there.  I don’t know what he intended to do, but he just left the job half-finished, the insulation ripped right off of the wires.  I haven’t been able to get my DVD player to work ever since, but it’s not like he cares.

I’m at my wits end, because the worst part of it is he doesn’t pay rent.  He doesn’t have to.  He’s a squirrel.

My squirrel problems have got to end soon.  This new “roommate” of mine literally leaves his crap all over the place – in my sock drawer, on kitchen counters, on the living room floor.  I found a squirrel hair in my cereal bowl the other day and just gagged and threw away the cereal box.

I thought problem squirrels limited themselves to chewing people’s trees and gardens, or crawling inside their attics.  My parents have a nice place outside the city, on a ½ acre lot with lots of trees, and they’ve had problems with squirrels every now and then.  They have several birdfeeders, so I wasn’t surprised when my mom told me about a squirrel that was performing all kinds of acrobatics to get at the bird seed.  I warned her that they’d end up with a squirrel nest in the attic some day.

But, squirrel problems were the last thing on my mind when I got my apartment in the city.  I’d asked the landlord if he’d had any problems with mice or rats or pigeons, but I failed to ask about squirrels.  Apparently, I’m the only one of his tenants that has this problem with a squirrel walking in and out of the window, making himself at home in my apartment.  I guess I need to just repair the window screen and call a professional wildlife removal service company.  Otherwise, I’ll have to take his share of the rent out of the nut collection he stuck inside my couch.