Gopher Removal

gopher removal

It seems like gopher removal is a consistent, on-going battle for a lot of residents in our area, and I’m determined to get rid of gophers once and for all off of my property.  My wife and I bought our three-plus acres several years ago with its farmhouse-style home, and have worked extremely hard to upgrade the house to our standards.  We bought the property because we fell in love with the area and landscaping.  If it meant nearly gutting the existing home and remodeling it, then we were willing to take on the job just to have that property.

The yard is gorgeous.  We have a pool area, adjacent to a Chinese-style garden with meandering pathways and stone benches.  Out behind the area, it’s a natural forest area with tall long-needle pine trees.  It’s the perfect multi-purpose backyard.  We can throw lavish dinner parties under the stars, or family barbeques, or quiet picnics amongst the trees.  Now that we’ve devoted a lot of time and expense to remodeling the house to match the beauty of the backyard, we plan on settling in and living here for the rest of our life.

But, now our gorgeous yard is marred by gopher hills, and we are in desperate need of gopher removal.  Mounds of dirt litter the grass, stones from our Chinese-garden pathways are getting pushed up, and some of the long-needle pine trees are dying.  I’m certain the gophers are eating the roots of the trees.  It’s astonishing how many gopher holes there are, too, and more spring up every day.

It’s annoying that we can’t even see the gophers destroying our property.  How do you remove gophers when they won’t even show themselves?  All we get to see is the damage and dying plants.  Sometimes, if you listen, you can actually hear them digging under foot, or spot the tip of a gopher nose sticking out of a hole.  We have no idea how many there are, but it’s obvious we have to get gopher removal specialists out here soon or our beautiful backyard sanctuary will be completely destroyed.  How can you host a pool party or elegant outdoor dinner party when you’re terrified someone will catch a foot in one of those gopher holes and trip?

After talking with some of my neighbors, I found out that this has apparently been a problem on and off for years.  Most of my fellow residents have just come to accept it as a fact of life out here.  I may be a newcomer to this area, but I refuse to accept life alongside destructive gophers.  I’ve tried to get rid of the gophers myself, but obviously I’m fighting a losing battle.  It’s time to bring out the big guns and get a professional gopher removal service out here to take care of them for me.  Maybe I can convince some neighbors to hire them, too, so we can enjoy a gopher-free neighborhood once and for all.

Woodpecker Removal

I would have expected cats to be great at woodpecker removal.  I was wrong.  At least with our cats.  They are no help whatsoever.

We’ve lived in this house for eight years, and for five of those years we’ve had problems with woodpeckers.  I have no idea why they’ve chosen our house to attack.  Our home is pretty much like every other home on our block full of stucco- and brick-faced two-story houses.  The neighborhood is almost a decade old, and you can still tell which houses were built first by looking at the height of the trees in each yard.  We’re a subdivision with young trees and lawns still struggling to establish dominance over weeds.  So, I can’t figure out what would attract woodpeckers out to our little area of the world.  I assume they would be more interested in well-established neighborhoods, with lots of tall trees and foliage.

But, we have struggled with woodpecker removal nearly every year.  For some reason, our house gets attacked every spring.  By the end of the summer, we’ve patched up a lot of woodpecker holes and inspected our attic to make sure nothing else has crawled inside.  Many mornings, we wake up early to the drum-drum-tap-tap of a woodpecker drilling holes into our beloved home.

We’ve tried a lot of things, from the ugly giant plastic owl screwed onto our roof to spraying the birds with water anytime we hear them out there.  They ignore the owl and return once the water has dried.  Don’t tell anyone, but my husband’s gone out there with the air gun and shot pellets up at the birds in an effort to scare them away and let them know we mean business.  They still come back.  It’s like they know they’re protected under the law and my husband isn’t allowed to kill them.

And our cats are worthless at woodpecker removal.  The birds ignore the cats chattering and mewling on the ground.  I would have expected, however, that they would have at least kept the woodpeckers out of our house.

So, you can imagine how surprised we were when we walked in the house to find a woodpecker sitting on the kitchen floor.  It flew up onto a high plant shelf once it saw us, and then eyed us, irritated.  Our two cats were nowhere to be seen.  When we looked for the cats later, we found them sleeping soundly on our forbidden bed, happy as can be.

But, we still had a woodpecker in the house.  How had it gotten inside?  Had it been in here before?  All of a sudden, we were faced with removing a woodpecker from out of the house, not just off of the house.

I called Allstate Animal Control and we had a woodpecker removal technician come out to the house.  He admitted he’d never seen something like this happen before, either, but the woodpecker just sat there, on the plant shelf in my kitchen, watching us, proof that the unexpected does happen.  And, proof that cats are worthless at home protection.

Swallow Removal

“My job is to sell cars, not remove swallows,” I protested.  I’d only been working at this used car dealership for three weeks, but I’d already had this conversation with my boss several times.  She looked annoyed at me, which was dangerous, because I really needed this job.  Already it was paying better than my last job, and I’d been able to pay off a credit card bill down to a zero balance, so I wanted to keep it.  I was really good at it, too, and I knew my boss was as happy as I was with my success.  She was also tired of having this conversation with me.

“How do you expect to sell cars when there is a swallows nest in the undercarriage?  Or when it’s all covered in bird droppings?”  She sighed.  She was excellent at her job, too.  I just found out she’d been here less than a year, but she’d pretty much saved the car lot from going under.  She’d hired better salesmen, got a great working relationship with a local bank that offered good rates to our customers, and improved the look of the place to attract more business.  It had paid off and the place was making more money than it ever had.

But, over the last few weeks, she found out she had a swallow removal problem.  Swallows descended on the car lot, for some reason.  They made little mud nests in every nook and cranny they could find.  Mud nests were tucked up under the eaves of the main building.  We’d found swallow nests in wheel wells, car undercarriages, and in the rafters of the garage we used to detail the cars.  Swallows return year after year to their roost, and the previous manager hadn’t done anything about it, so we now had a booming swallow population on site.

Under new management, swallow removal was added to every employee’s job description.  And, I was getting tired of it.  I wanted to get to work, dressed nicely and ready to sell cars.  Instead, I had to help hose down half-built nests.  I’d carry special cloths to wipe swallow poop off a car that I wanted to show a client, and then I’d feel filthy until I was able to get back inside and sanitize my hand.  Sales meetings focused on swallow removal techniques instead of the best sales methods.   We’d tossed around ideas ranging from covering the entire lot in bird wire to installing a sonic bird repellant device.  A co-worker half-jokingly suggested getting a falcon or two to get rid of the swallows.

I knew this was a real sticking point with my boss, and it was for all of us, too.  She didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a scheme that might not work, and I think she was hoping the problem would just go away soon.  I handed her the phone number of a swallow removal service, and she finally conceded that it would cost her a lot less money to get professionals out here to get rid of the swallows.  Maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to go through this again next year.

Pigeon Removal

pigeon removal

As an interior designer working in the city, I don’t consider pigeon removal as my area of expertise.  I specialize in transforming apartments to really reflect the resident’s personalities.  Most of my clients love living in the city, even though it means paying a lot of money to live in a small, cramped space with no view.  So, I try to make an oasis out of the space they have.  After I’m done, they can still enjoy the passions of city life and have a relaxing haven to call home.

Of course, when I first arrive at most clients’ apartments, it’s immediately obvious they need a professional designer and decorator.  Some people’s attempts (or lack thereof) of decorating are just abominable.  I knew one lady who only owned a bed out of necessity, but hadn’t purchased any other furniture, because she was afraid of making bad decorating decisions.  She sat on the floor to eat her meals and didn’t have friends over, because she had nowhere for them to sit.  She’d been living like that for over a year before finally hiring me.

One gentleman just accepted all the hand-me-down furniture and wall-hangings from his mother, without even trying to make them his own.  When I first met him, I found a heterosexual bachelor living with overstuffed flowered couches and chairs and lace-encrusted pictures of birds and butterflies.

Whatever people’s design-choices, I have noticed a trend amongst city-apartment tenants.  They almost always have to deal with pigeon removal one way or the other.  Some wise people invest in a good pigeon removal service to keep their balcony free of birds and bird-debris.  Some people choose to ignore the pigeon problem and end up with pigeon guano encrusted on their balcony floor several layers deep.  Some people, the do-it-yourselfers, try more creative approaches.  One woman actually drew scary faces on white balloons and taped the balloons to her railing, hoping to humanely frighten the pigeons from roosting on her window sills.  She was traumatized when she realized her “humane” efforts ended up killing the pigeons that swallowed pieces of popped balloons.   Some people attempt pigeon removal with thick wires with nails thrust through them.  They glue these wires onto the areas where pigeons roost, hoping the nails that stick out will prevent the pigeons from resting their tired wings in and around their apartment.  Unfortunately, some people don’t install these correctly, and either end up giving pigeons a perfect nook in which to roost free from predators, or impale their hands as they’re installing it.

Most pigeon removal materials do not enhance the look of an apartment.  I take care of the interior, and make it an oasis for my clients, but I always suggest a good pigeon removal service to get rid of pigeon problems for them.  After all, why spend good money on beautiful furniture and decorations if your guests are just going to focus on the balloons dancing madly in the wind outside your one and only window?

Skunk Removal

I know, I know, if I’d taken the time to clean out the barn, I wouldn’t have to worry about skunk removal.  But, what’s done is done.  There, amongst the broken lawn mower, the old bag of dog food that I’d forgotten about, a couple of empty gas cans and all the random stuff we carted out of our newly remodeled home, lives a skunk.  It’s bigger than a poodle and fluffy, and it most definitely does not want to move out of my barn.

Usually, I take extra care to winterize our entire property.  As fall is ending and the cold weather sets in, I take care of everything, including giving the lawn a last good mow, placing tree stakes near all the trunks, cutting back the roses and cleaning out the barn before making sure the house is ready for the cold months ahead.

Things were a little different this last year.  Our last child graduated high school and then headed off to college.  We had the house to ourselves.  My wife was determined to remodel, and I think it had more to do with combating empty-nest syndrome than a desperate need to have a new master bath, but I was happy to comply.  College doesn’t come cheap, so we did most of the work ourselves, which made for an extremely busy fall.  It never occurred to me that skunk removal would be the consequence to ignoring my normal self-imposed duties.

But, here I am, standing in the doorway of my barn, dressed in a cheap hazmat-like suit purchased at the hardware store, armed with a net on the end of a long pole.  As the skunk turns and tries to burrow its way deeper into the debris littering the barn, I realize a net is probably not the best skunk removal tool.  I realize I am standing at a crossroads of choices – either press forward into the dark recesses of the barn chasing after this odorous animal, or back out gracefully and get a professional trapper who is experienced at skunk removal.  I’m a man, and I assume I can do it myself, so I press forward carefully.

In the dim light, I become aware of little brown pellets littering the floor, especially around the bag of forgotten dog food.  I realize the sorry state of my barn gave it a perfect place to hole up for the winter, and the dog food and rodents provided an excellent food source.

I stop, aware of a scrabbling noise on my right.  I can just make out the form of the skunk as it tries to squeeze itself further out of sight, and I approach carefully, stretching out my net.  Suddenly, the skunk whirls around and lifts its tail, and I realize I made the wrong choice trying to remove the skunk by myself.  But, by now, it is too late, and I can only hope the weak respirator I wear and the cheap paper covering I wear over my clothes will keep the worst of the skunk spray off of me as I run out of the barn.

Snake Removal

get rid of snakes

I’m afraid to get snake removal done until all the other pests are gone, too.  I swear, it’s been like my little farm has been plagued lately, and I don’t know how or why it started.  My family’s lived and worked this farm for five generations, now, and as far as I know, we’ve never had this kind of problem before.

Sure, it’s a farm, so we have our share of mice and other pests.  This year, for some reason, the mouse population has skyrocketed.  I’m finding mouse droppings all over the place, not just in the barn.  They’ve started coming in the house, too.  I’ve set out mouse traps, but I can only catch a few mice that way.

So, when I spotted a few larger snakes on the property, I have to say, I welcomed them at first.  I thought they’d help keep the mouse population down.  But, now, we’re dealing with more snakes than I’ve ever seen, and we’ve got to have both problems gone.  Mouse removal, then snake removal.  Simple as that.

I don’t know what kind of snakes they are, but they’re definitely bigger than the usual garden snakes we have.  The garden snakes have been great, because they eat crickets and other bugs, they shy away from people, and they just leave well enough alone.  But, these bigger snakes are a lot more bold, and I think they’ve gotten in the house, too.  I’m sure they’re just after the mice.  Since the bigger snakes showed up, we don’t have as many mice in the house, but I found some snake skins in the attic, which just horrifies me.  I guess snakes can get into the walls, and then slither up the inside of the wall all the way up into the attic.  Where else can they go?  I hate the thought of maybe stepping on one inside the bathroom or kitchen.  What if they’re poisonous?

My son went out to work in the garden the other day and lifted up a tarp, only to find three of them curled up under there.  Fortunately, none of them attacked him, and by the time he came back with a shovel to kill them, they’d all disappeared somewhere.  I’m nervous about having him work in the garden now, or even the barn, because I don’t want him bitten.

So, now, what do I do?  If I get rid of the mice, will the snakes go away?  Or, do I get snake removal service out here to get rid of the snakes, and then get feral cats to get rid of the mice?  Maybe the snake removal service will take care of the mouse problem at the same time, and our little farm will finally be pest-free for a little while.  I’d better do it quick, before something bigger and meaner shows up to eat the snakes that are eating the mice!

Armadillo Exterminator

armadillo removal

“I’m telling you, call for armadillo extermination right now.  What else can we do?”

I absolutely love my sister, but lately she was really starting to wear on me, and on my family.  Since her ugly divorce three years ago (which I applauded, by the way), she was relying on me to take care of her.  Not financially, but, let’s just say married couples have “Honey Do” lists.  She gives me “Bro Do’s.”  She never really developed enough self confidence or self-reliance to handle big household tasks.  So, I found myself doing things like fixing her garage door, trimming trees, moving furniture or fixing plumbing for her.  She and her ex-husband had bought a nice house with a huge lawn when they got married, with dreams of filling it with children and having a safe, beautiful yard for them to play in.  Unfortunately, he was not the dream husband she thought he was.  They never ended up with children and he ended up with a girl he’d dated back in high school.  I was now stuck with taking care of that huge yard and it was getting tiresome.

My wife, my beautiful, understanding and compassionate wife, encouraged me to help my sister in the beginning.  She realized my sister was going through a very difficult time,  and she wasn’t really equipped to handle it alone.  So, while I took care of yard work and was my sister’s handyman, my wife spent hours on the phone with my sister listening to her troubles and helping her as best she could.

Now, after three years, I was feeling like an “enabler,” as I stood on her porch looking over her yard and talking about armadillo extermination.

“Just look what it did to my beautiful bird bath, the one I bought on my trip to Reno!”  she was saying.  The armadillo had dug several shallow holes all throughout the yard, including right next to the chintzy bird bath my sister had fallen in love with.  The armadillo’s hole caused the bird bath to tip over and break, which prompted my sister’s early-morning phone call to my cell phone on a beautiful Saturday morning.  I had planned on sleeping in.  Oh, well.

“I’m not even sure there’s an armadillo extermination company,” I said.  “I think they just trap armadillos and get rid of them.”

“Well, I honestly don’t care what they do with the armadillo.  I just want them to get rid of it for me!  Will you set it up?”

I sighed.  Three years.  It was time to help my sister get the confidence she needed to handle problems like armadillos digging in her yard all by herself.   I looked up the number for armadillo extermination, which was an armadillo trapping service, dialed it, and handed her the phone.  She tried to give me the phone back, panicking, but I smiled and said, “You talk to them, just tell them about the armadillo holes and the bird bath.  They’ll know how to help you.”  Baby steps, I thought.

Vole Exterminator

Sweet, domestic cat by day, vole exterminator by night, I prowl the premises and get rid of voles with my incredible skills in stealth, stalking and staking prey within my sharp claws.  I live with a lovely woman and her little girl, both of whom adore me.  The woman has given me a very soft bed to sleep on during the day, a wide variety of delicious foods, and fun toys to chase and bat around the few hours I’m awake when the sun is up.  The little girl dotes on me, and who can blame her?  I’m soft and beautiful and I let her pick me up, carry me around as I’m  draped over her shoulders, pet me and tease me until her mother makes her “be soft,” whatever that means.

As the evening approaches and the sun goes down, my wild predator side emerges.  Soon, the woman will open that front door and let me loose on the world for a few hours before she calls me back inside.  She offers me food, but I’m usually satisfied during my time in the wild outdoors.  I’ve usually gorged on a rodent of two during those brief hours of freedom, especially since I am a vole exterminator extraordinaire.

I begin with my normal routine.  I get down to about the third cement stair and roll around.  I rub my house-cat scent all over, making sure all the other felines know that this is MY house, my territory.  Then, I roll around in the dirt, which works to mask my scent a little.  Then, there’s running time.  Under the chain link fence and I’m streaking across the neighborhood as fast as my legs will carry me!  A day of pent-up sleeping and it’s time to get the blood racing.

Only then am I ready to take on my noble role as a vole exterminator.  I enter into stealth mode, poking around in the undergrowth, the garden, and seeking out any holes or scent of voles.  I listen to the ground around vole tunnels and vole holes for any sound of vole activity.  Once I know a vole is in there, I slink back to an appropriate hiding place and lie in wait.  Sometimes, I’m weak, and a passing bird or dog barking will distract me, but usually I can wait for the longest time.  I don’t pounce when the vole sticks its nose out of the hole.  I don’t pounce the moment it exits the tunnel.  No, I wait until it’s a little too far to duck back quickly to safety.  Then, I’m like lightening, and the vole is in its death throes before it even realizes it is caught between my sharp teeth.

Satiated and happy, the evening’s work as vole exterminator is done.  I get back inside the warm home, purr as the woman gives me cold, clear water to drink, and head off for another well-deserved nap.

Wild Cats In Neighborhood

get rid of feral cats

I’m at my wit’s end with the wild cats in the neighborhood.  These wild cats, or feral cats, are becoming a danger to my children and my pets, and they have got to be stopped.

Look, I’m a cat owner, and I love cats.  I have two sweet felines.  My older cat prefers to stay inside all the time, sleeping, purring and playing.  My younger cat comes in and out as she pleases through her little cat door.  They’ve both received their shots and boosters and are fixed, because I believe in being a responsible pet owner.  I guess that’s why I don’t understand people who dump litters of kittens in the empty fields behind our neighborhoods.  They don’t spay or neuter their cats, and when they end up with a litter of kittens that they can’t give away, they just let them go in the fields, figuring they’ll fend for themselves or nature will take its course.  After a generation or two of felines, our neighborhood has a real problem with wild cats, or feral cats, as some people prefer to call them.

I took my two toddlers out for a walk today, and we saw several wild cats in the neighborhood.  My daughter, who adores animals of every kind, immediately ran after them, trying to pet them.  Fortunately, I was able to catch her in time before a feral cat scratched her.  Wild cats don’t like to be chased by two year-olds.  Instead of enjoying a sweet, leisurely walk through our quiet streets, I had to educate my children on the dangers of wild cats in the neighborhood.  Yes, they can pet our cats, because our cats are safe and clean, but wild cats can carry diseases.  They’re dirty, they can bite, they can scratch, and they can really hurt them.  My son, who’s a little more sensitive, had a nightmare about cats at naptime.  I guess I don’t need to worry about him running after the wild cats in our neighborhood, but I really need to watch my daughter.  She’s likely to have to learn that lesson the hard way.

Feral cats use certain areas in our backyard as their litter box, so before I can let the kids go out and play in their own playground, I have to go out first and inspect the ground.  They can go outside and play only after I’ve had a chance to pick up all the cat poop.  As a cat owner, I know diseases can be spread through cat feces, so I’m very careful to make sure my children aren’t exposed.  It’s frustrating, because I’d love to be able to let the kids run out in their own backyard when the weather’s nice, without making them wait until I have the time (and, frankly, the energy) to go out and sanitize the area first.

And, then my little cat came home once with scratches on her face and ear.  I’ve had it with the wild cats in the neighborhood.  It’s time to do something about it.  I’m calling in a professional service to get rid of the feral cats.  Maybe I can convince the city to do something to stop people from dumping their cats in the empty fields.  In the meantime, though, let’s get rid of the wild cats in the neighborhood and have a fresh start.

Mouse in Wall

You know you have a mouse in the wall or something else running around inside your home when your dog spends the entire day staring at your wall and sniffing at the baseboards.  Either that, or your dog is just crazy.  But, I have a great dog, and I trust her.

At first, I didn’t notice anything odd.  Life is busy around here.  With three kids, a husband who works over 60 hours a week, and a part-time job, I have to admit I don’t take a lot of time paying attention to how my dog spends her days.  I was hurrying to get breakfast ready the other morning when my youngest said, “Mom, Daisy’s staring at the wall again.”

I was in such a hurry, and there were so many other things going on at the time that I just responded, “Hmmm, mmmm” as I rushed over to the stove to flip the frying eggs.  Unfortunately, I accidentally tipped over the juice container just then, too.  So, it wasn’t until after the eggs were on plates in front of everyone and the juice was cleaned up that my youngest piped up again.

“See, Mom?  Why is Daisy staring at the wall?”

I had no idea what she was talking about and turned to see what my German shepherd was doing.  True enough, she was pacing in front of the wall that separates the kitchen and living room, sniffing at the baseboards and whining every now and then.  Everyone stopped eating breakfast and chatting just to watch this strange behavior.  That’s right when my husband came down the stairs.  We must have been a sight.  His entire family was sitting silently, staring at the dog, who was in turn staring at the wall.  He stood there on the steps before bursting out laughing.

“What’s going on around here?” he laughed.  “We have a ghost or something?”

We all snapped out of it and breakfast resumed, although the talk was about what could possibly cause Daisy to act that way.  My children each told me they had seen Daisy doing this every now and then over the last few days, and I wondered why I hadn’t noticed it until someone actually said something to me.

Finally, we all agreed we must have a mouse in the wall.  But, the morning was ticking on and everyone needed to get to school or work, so we finished up and I sent everyone out the door.  I turned to look at Daisy in my kitchen and sighed.  I had about an hour before I needed to be at work, and I knew I had to spend that time making sure we didn’t have a mouse infestation and doing something about the mouse in the wall.

Reluctantly, I opened up the pantry, and started pulling everything out, inspecting it as I did so.  I spotted a couple of tiny mouse droppings, that looked a little bit like grains of dark rice, on the floor, but our food seemed fine.  I mostly keep everything in jars, cans and plastic containers, so there wasn’t much that a mouse could get into.  One cereal box had a small hole chewed in the bottom and I tossed it, thankful that we’d been eating eggs for breakfast this week instead of cereal.  Fortunately, no mouse jumped out at me while I worked.

That job done, I called a rodent removal service to come out and inspect our property and get rid of the mouse in our wall.  I thought having a dog would protect my family from intruders, but apparently my Daisy protects us from mice, as well.  Good dog!