Pigeons on the Roof

Living in the country like I do, I see all sorts of birds in the neighborhood: bald eagles, golden eagles, and even hawks; but pigeons on the roof? I thought that was just a New Yorker thing! Magpies and Robbins are one thing, but pigeons are another, they like to live in their little flocks and they make quite a mess. The worst part is, I work at a care facility and they have just the thing you DON’T want pigeons near. Large HVAC Systems. You know, the ones that bird poop likes to get collected in?
As I said, I work in a care facility, and elderly people are sick enough without having to breathe in poop tainted air. Besides just those already dealing with sickness, other workers like me are very exposed to illnesses like Histoplasmosis and E-Coli, both should be no brainers that they aren’t very good to be sick with. Not to mention to clean ALL of the vents that we have would cost upward of $2,000 and that is not something this company needs, elderly homes aren’t exactly million dollar businesses after all.
So the question was, how to get the pigeons OFF the roof; since we didn’t exactly have the funds to continually clean the HVAC, and we definitely didn’t want the pigeons back, we decided to call in those with a lot more experience than our maintenance men had. Within a few minutes of our call, SWAT busted down the doors, guns in hand. Not really, but it felt like that when we had inspectors there within a week and the birds gone and vents cleaned in just over a month. Admitting defeat and calling the pros was the best solution we could find for dealing with the pigeons on the roof.

Fruit Thief

Living in Southern California means that I can grow fruit trees, but it also provides an abundance of fruit thieves. A few years back when my boyfriend Danny and I decided to start planting fruit trees, we were expecting that animals would occasionally rob us of some of the delicious fruit when it started growing. Well, we were spot on. Last year we started seeing small orange balls beginning to grow on the branches of one tree, I was ecstatic! Seeing as I don’t have any kids and Dan is allergic to dogs and cats, these trees became my babies, and it was thrilling to see the fruit sprout; but along with my new produce, came new visitors. It wasn’t long after my first orange sighting that I catch sight of a sneaky little critter making off with one in his paws.
I immediately marched Danny down to the nearest Home Depot to find something to protect my little saplings (though they hardly were anymore) from the intruders. We bought ourselves some bricks and cement and spent the rest of the night laying a two-foot tall wall around all five of our various citrus trees, I was determined to keep them safe from predators, but it didn’t work for long. A few weeks ago I started finding busted open fruits laying on the ground, insides eaten out! I was awestruck, what sort of thief could so slyly maneuver over the wall, up the tree, and back down only to litter my lawn with the rinds?
It only got worse from there, on Saturday last week we had a little rain that wet the ground just enough for me to see the footprints that the culprit had left behind. To my surprise, it looked just like a tiny hand! I would not stand to see some four-fingered creature stealing my fruit and I had Danny setting traps in the yard before the sun set that evening, and it paid off. Last night we caught ourselves a rat, and though my battle is far from over, I was pleased to have finally identified one of my fruit thieves.

Snake in my Garage

I had never been as afraid in my life as I was the day I found the snake in my garage. You see things like that in Alfred Hitchcock movies, on Animal Planet even, but it’s not something you think you’ll ever encounter, but I did. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been afraid of snakes, my friends used to tease me about it and even chase me around the playground with little garter snakes they caught on the baseball field. Big or small, I was terrified by them all. Snakes are nothing to be joked about in my opinion, they can inject you with venom or squeeze the air out of you, some could (theoretically) get big enough to swallow you whole, not necessarily digest you, but still; and yes, I know that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than be killed by a snake, but my great-great-grandfather was struck by lightning, so I don’t take my chances.
The worst part of the experience was that the giant, legless, heart attack waiting, wasn’t in just any garage, but in MY garage. My man-cave, my only escape from my wife, the place where I can watch football and golf free from judgment. It was the place where I found out Carrie was pregnant with our first son, it was my sanctuary, and that little slippery beast ruined it for me! Now this wasn’t your run of the mill serpent, it was huge with beady, red eyes that could glimpse into your soul. He could smell my fear I’m telling you, but that’s not what this story’s about. It’s about how I encountered the blood-eyed demon.
This is what happened, I was enjoying a beautiful, crisp afternoon day, when my wife and I got into an argument about my lack of drive to get the dishes done. Of course she won so the dishes got finished and I went to sulk in the garage and enjoy my own company. Upon entering my beautiful solitary, I picked up on a wet smell and an odd sound I couldn’t name, but I could tell it was coming from above the door. I looked up to see if I had a leak in the roof only to find a GIANT 8-FOOT MONSTER LOOMING OVER ME. I hurled my cell phone at it and let out the loudest yell a man could muster, after that I booked it back into the house, and locked the door behind me, trapping it in what I used to call my temple. Now I can’t even go in there, yes we got it removed and the garage is supposed to be free from pests, but I can still smell it in there. All I can think to do about it is convince my wife that we should move far away from where I found the snake in my garage.

Bats in the Attic

I never knew I’d be living with bats in the attic when I chose my new house. I thought that the Johnson’s were a normal family when I moved into the typical suburban neighborhood, I picked it for the wonderful view of the mountains from the kitchen corner, right above the fridge. I’ve always loved entertaining the thought of moving into a cozy cabin in the woods with a good family that left lots of dust and wasn’t too bothered by my webs. Anyway, in this house, I had my pick of the litter in setting up spots to spin my homes, and unfortunately I made one in the attic, right where the crazy animals were nesting.
To tell the truth, the bats didn’t bother me very much when they couldn’t see me, they don’t usually like to snack on Wolf Spiders like me, but they definitely bothered old Mrs. Johnson and her son. They didn’t realized they had more unexpected house guests than just me and the occasional fly (which I took care of), but they soon discovered the bats in the attic. I was talking with a girl from across the street and apparently they’d been renting the house to some distant cousins or something and they let the winged crazies in, but it’s really none of my business to gossip. Once they found them however, oowee it was chaos. They chased them around trying to shoo them away, trapped one in a box once, and even smacked one with a broom; I noticed that they were careful not to kill the bats though.
I had no trouble living with two families instead of one, but after the bats started being rambunctious during the daytime, I think the Johnson’s had their fill. They started to be hyper-hygienic, scrubbing everything down and cleaning anything they could reach. They even destroyed almost all of my webs! It was a mad house, but since they were too afraid to go into the attic, they didn’t even bother the bats! Well, I packed up my things and got myself out of there, I never imagined that something as simple as bats in the attic would drive me from my home, but it sure did.

Dead Rat

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled a dead rat, but it’s not pleasant that’s for sure. It was roughly a year ago when my wife Justine and I discovered that our new house (of only three months) had a rat problem; no wonder it sold so easily. It took us a while to realize that our moving boxes hadn’t had holes in them when we moved, and all of our food was intact when it was packed away. The hard part wasn’t getting rid of the rats, but convincing Justine that traps and poison were the way to go. As an animal lover she was hesitant to bring harm to any creature, she wouldn’t even swat flies in the house! At first we tried to just block off any place we were suspicious that they could get in, but then we discovered that the rats had chewed holes in our couch, the one Justine’s grandma left to her when she died. After that there was no mercy for any vermin in the Nielsen home! We set out traps in hopes to catch all the rats red handed.
My master plan didn’t settle well with my wife, and when she found a dead rat under her desk, twisted grotesquely in a trap, she called for a cease fire and told me she would not let me set anymore traps, she couldn’t stand the sight of the poor, dead rodents. I was a little aggravated at this change in my strategies, but they changed nonetheless. I know who makes the rules in my house. As they say in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “A man may be the head of the house, but a woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she pleases,” so I set out poison instead, that way none of the rats would die in the house, but in their nests instead. Wherever they may be.
Awkwardly for us, the nest turned out to be underneath the house, and as I said before, the smell of dead rat isn’t an enjoyable one. What was worse was that our cat, Minny, LOVED to catch mice (I know we should have just let her go for the rats but I was ready for war!) and these were bigger, faster, more challenging, and apparently more appeasing. She chased and caught maybe two or three or more of the already poisoned rats, and got VERY sick. Now, not only did we have to live with the smell of the dead rats, but also with the smell and sound of an ill pussycat, none of which I’d like to experience again. We were in and out of the vet’s office for a month, not to mention I had to crawl under the house to clear out the rotting animals. This took a lot longer than I thought it would just for a couple of dead rats.

Skunk in the Roof

There is a skunk in my roof. Now, if you’ve ever smelled a skunk you know that even from miles away, the smell is strong and potent. I have that in my house. Not to mention it’s not just any skunk, I have a DEAD skunk in my roof. Which means coupled with the foul smell it already carries, I have the smell of death lingering as well. The thing about my roof is that I don’t really have an attic, there’s a small place between the actual roof and my living quarters, but I don’t have access to it, it’s only about a foot-tall at its highest point. Unfortunately that’s all the room a skunk would need to make a nice little nest.
How it got up there, I have no idea. I assume it stuck its sneaky little paws in the cracks between bricks and made its way up, although I don’t know how it could have possibly gotten inside! Of course it could always be a raccoon that was sprayed by a skunk and crawled right in. I’ve heard they’re better climbers than skunks anyhow, unless, since my house is up against a hill, a skunk just jumped right in. It really doesn’t make much sense but I smell something skunky up there.
If it was a mouse or maybe even a squirrel I wouldn’t even bother with trying to get it out, but because it’s so big I have to. It can take 1-2 years for a something that size to decompose, and if that happens I can’t imagine how much worse the smell will be. Basically my house is a dump right now, just smelly and dreadful, I can hardly live here. However, I will not be forced out of my home for some dead animal! Oh no, I’ll break out the hardhats if I need to get him out, hopefully the MANY animal control places I’m calling will be able to help me out. How else would I deal with a dead animal in the roof?

The Woodpecker War

My neighbor has a woodpecker problem, and I’m sorry but I think it’s so funny.  Not the problem itself, but the way he deals with it.  If my memory serves me correct, it’s been going back and forth for about two years now, but it might not have been quite that long. I know we’ve had a woodpecker in the neighborhood for much longer than that, you can almost always hear it drilling away at neighboring trees, he drilled a hole in my siding once but that was the only issue I’ve ever had with him.  But Tom (my neighbor) definitely has a serious problem.

For a little background, Tom is a single dad which in of itself isn’t something that you see every day; but his access to toys and his lack of sleep make him a force to be reckoned with.  His woodpecker problem started, like I said, about two years ago; and at first Tom tried all of the usual steps.  I saw him hang up reflectors, he bought some weird repellant to spray where the woodpecker was drilling, and when he could he patched up the holes.  You could clearly see that he was trying to reasonably get rid of the woodpecker, but after a year he had to install a metal repair trim because there was so much damage, and even after that the woodpecker came back!  I guess after that it was game on.

The yelling was the first thing, the woodpecker will drill at this little tinted window in Tom’s bedroom but when he opens it, it flies away.  So now when he opens it, he’ll yell little obscenities out at the bird.  Another thing (my personal favorite) that I’ve seen him do is shoot at the bird with his son’s Nerf gun; I’ve never seen him hit closer than 6 inches to the woodpecker but you have to appreciate the effort.  Recently I’ve watched him put out some of his kids’ little green army men up in the window seals and set up his daughter’s sound activated Robo-dog on the deck, along with a few other childish ploys.  It is the craziest thing to watch and I’m excited to see what he comes up with next!

Squirrel Stuck in Attic

The first time the landlord found a squirrel stuck in the attic it turned out to be the least of our problems. My husband Ben and I had heard scratching in the walls but just assumed it was mice and set out traps, but when Ben went to fix the water heater, it turned out to be a very different situation. The squirrel was nesting in the attic insulation and making a mess of everything! We tried to get him out but the wiley thing slipped right past us and hid amidst the many boxes so we called the owner of the house to come over and take a look. He searched the wreckage for a while before discovering the screen where the thing had chewed its way into our home, and all it came down to was chasing the scoundrel out and kicking it to the curb.
It didn’t take long for the critter to come back out into the open and right into the owner’s plan. Being men of many talents, the owner and my husband had it surrounded and rapidly evicted from the home then boarded his only entrance shut, but little did we know he also trapped ANOTHER squirrel INSIDE the house! We didn’t realize it until the next day and now it’s become a fiasco! The second squirrel has been running amuck through attic, the vents, and the walls for over a day now, scratching and clawing his way around, truly making an awful mess, and get this: when we woke up this morning, THE SQUIRREL WAS STUCK IN THE HOOD VENT ABOVE THE STOVE! Fortunately he’s still alive so no dead, rotting smell; yet. The owners are looking for a trapper to come take care of it now, and honestly, I wished they had called sooner; it’s turned into a lot more trouble than it was worth just for a dumb squirrel stuck in an attic.

Woodpecker in the House

It was after a week of getting no sleep that I realized we had a woodpecker in the house. I didn’t exactly know where or how it got in, but I definitely knew that the constant clanging and pecking was from a woodpecker no doubt about it. When I told my dad what I knew it to be, he was very unhappy, as an avid bird watcher he didn’t want to cause any of the winged creatures harm, but he reluctantly believed me and we set out looking for it. We had to wait for night to fall before we could start our search, the darn thing only seemed to cause ruckus when everyone was trying to get a good night’s rest, but as soon as the sun fell the woodpecker started up.
The odd thing was that the sound it made wasn’t its usual beak-on-wood sound as you would expect it to be, it had a hollow, metal note to it that we couldn’t quite identify, so we split up. I went to the attic and my dad went for the basement, my two year old brother (who insisted on helping us) sat in the kitchen and listened for, or more likely slept through, the bird’s obnoxious sounds. As I crawled around in the dingy, old attic, I struggled to focus on not falling through the ceiling, and locating the bird, until I crawled right past it. I cried out for my dad and went running/speed crawling back down the ladder and into the living room, where we met each other out of breath. Panting and smiling, we both exclaimed that it was in the chimney, which wasn’t exactly something to be excited about but we were both just proud that our detective work paid off.
Finding the woodpecker, as it turns out, was the easy part. Since it had made its home between the chimney stack and the metal piping, there was no easy way to get at it. Having a woodpecker in the house was panning out to be a lot more work than I had expected. My dad suggested we tear down the bricks of the chimney so we could remove it safely, unfortunately for him my mother was not going to let him do that. Instead we called in the pros and let them handle it, we had to move out of our house for about a week, but when we came back we were able to sleep soundly since there were no more woodpeckers in the house.

Raccoon Attack

My dog isn’t little, she’s a 110 pound black lab, so imagine my surprise when I woke up to find two raccoons attacking her! I’ve lived in Utah for about two years now and I’m no stranger to wildlife, from deer in my backyard to woodpeckers in my trees, they’re everywhere all the time, but this wasn’t just a sighting; it was an attack! The day had truly started just like any other day, sending my kids off to school and dropping Jason (my husband) off at work before departing for work myself. After my 9-5 I came home to enjoy an evening of TV watching and games with my family, around 10 we all slowly made our way to bed, Raven (my dog) joined Jason and me in our room. Somewhere around 2 a.m., I woke up and realized that my usual foot warmer had left her spot at the end of the bed vacant and cold; however, I shook it off and snuggled deeper into the comforter and slowly drifted back to sleep until… BANG! A loud crash blasted up the stairs and was promptly followed by yelping and barking, and an odd screeching I had never heard before. I knew immediately something unwanted was downstairs and rushed to the aid of my sweet dog, Jason followed quickly behind me.
We busted into what had been our living room, but now more accurately resembled a war zone, only to find Raven entangled with not just one, but two raccoons! All the animals were bloody and snarling, but my dog seemed to have the worst of it. Her ear was missing the tip, her eye was swollen and cut, her sides were raked and bleeding, and she had one of the coons attached to her underbelly, the other biting at her neck. Of course, we instantly joined the fight, tearing the animals away and doing our best to chase them outside. After what seemed like hours we finally got the striped bandits out of our house and away from our dog.
Luckily, Raven only needed a few stitches and a rabies shot, the worst of the damage was done to our house itself! There was raccoon pee on the couches and the piano, the cupboards in our kitchen were open and their contents spilled, muddy footprints decorated the walls and floors like wallpaper, and, probably the worst of all, they had practically eaten my two year old son’s favorite stuffed animal. Soon enough we tracked all the mess back to the start of it all, the doggy door. The sneaky buggers had seen our pets go in and out and done the same, needless to say we boarded it up the next morning and Raven has been very wary of all catlike creatures; after all, she doesn’t need ANOTHER raccoon attack.