Sunday, November 30, 2008

How long does it take a blonde to outsmart a squirrel?

For about 2 1/2 months I have been doing battle with a pesky squirrel. It has been an exercise in frustration because I would guess that I should be smarter than the squirrel, but he is proving to be a worthy opponent. It started around mid-September when I heard scurrying feet in my attic. Seeing the critter outside I knew that he was trying to move in on my personal space and that was totally not something I was going to put up with.

My first move was to try to fix the problem myself. I had some chicken wire and I figured out where he was getting in. There was a small hole at a juncture of two roof lines. The angle was such that I couldn't get into the space to nail a small piece of wood over the hole. I decided that the chicken wire would do. I rolled it up tight and wedged it into the spot. Seems I shut him in because within a couple of days my chicken wire was pushed out and away. The squirrel just figured that I had put in a door for him and upgraded his living quarters.

Cussing and hauling out the long extension ladder yet again I climbed up and wedged the wire in, figuring that this time I had it nice and tight. This time I also decided to call in the pros and had an exterminator come out. I explained to him where the hole was but he climbed on the roof and then came down and proceeded to tell me that I had vents on the roof with no screens and since I had 13 vents, it would cost around $30/vent to get screens for them plus another 200 and some dollars to trap the squirrel. This squirrel was beginning to look like a small mink coat! I was seriously considering my husband's offer to shoot him. I figured that the jail time my husband would serve for discharging a firearm in the city limits would be worth getting rid of the squirrel.

Instead I called the building inspector and asked him about the likelihood of my vents having been installed without screens. In a nutshell he said there were probably screens on the vents and the only way to tell was to go into the attic. Since I had wedged in the chicken wire so tightly I hadn't heard the pitter patter of little feet for a while now, so I knew the squirrel had vacated his living quarters. I was feeling pretty proud of myself about the chicken wire tactic and figured I had nipped the problem in the bud. But just to be sure I braved a trip to the attic and crawled through knee-high insulation and wedged between trusses to assess the vents. Yup the building inspector was right...all vents had screens. I did decide to check out the hole that was chicken wired shut and found that it would require the flexibility of an acrobatic circus performer. Besides I had the chicken wire in so tight that there was no way the squirrel could move it.

That is until we returned home from our Thanksgiving travels. The squirrel must be on steroids. He had pulled my chicken wire out of its wedged tight spot and thrown it on the ground. Once again he was lulling in insulated comfort. This just wouldn't do. I spent this morning stewing and obsessing about it. In the midst of all this my husband shouted, "The squirrel is outside in the tree." Grabbing a small board, nails, hammer, the extension ladder, flashlight, gloves, mask and bicycle helmet I ventured into the attic. In case you are wondering the helmet was to protect my head from nails and board bumps because I don't have a hard hat. I worked my way over to the hole and reassessed...Yup there was no way I was going to be able to get into that tight spot and cover the hole. I figured that calling the fire department to unwedge me would probably not be a good thing. We were going to have to tackle the hole from the outside. Unfortunately my husband thought that he heard the critter running around in the attic again. I hoped he was mistaken and we wouldn't be shutting him in. My husband did a great job of measuring the space and cutting a triangle shaped board that we could wedge between the two roof lines and seal off the space. It worked perfectly!

That is until we heard the pitter patter of feet again. This time the pitter patter was a frantic circling above our heads as the squirrel realized his exit had been sealed. I fretted and stewed, but by this time my husband was sacked out in front of the TV watching a football game and he couldn't care less about a squirrel going nuts in our attic.

There was only one thing to do: grab the hammer and the extension ladder. Back out to the roof. This time to move the board. I got it out, climbed down the ladder and stepped back to watch for the squirrel to exit. It was a waiting game and a cold one. Wait! That's him. We were eye to eye. He saw the urge to kill in my face and didn't wait. He turned and dashed over the top of the roof. I scrambled up the ladder to wedge the block of wood back in. Drats! I can't get it to fit. I had to dislodge my husband from his recliner and ball game to come back out and get it into place. He grumbled the whole while, but it was worth it because maybe...just maybe I finally outsmarted the stupid squirrel! Mom

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