NOT THE SQUIRRELS

by Marc Cullison    [mcullison.com]

As you loyal readers are aware, I have had several run-ins with the local squirrel population around my house. They used to be a threat to the longevity of my home and its peripheral accoutrements. They gnawed boards on the house to frazzled stumps, chewed through insect screen on the roof vents to gain entry to the attic, destroyed plant life and furniture on the porch, gorged bird seed to the point the birds got little of it, and were just a general nuisance.

Due to diligent efforts on the part of my wife and myself, we now have a more congenial family of squirrels. Well, not that it is exactly congenial, but at least the destructiveness has been abated. But living in a rural setting, although peaceful and relaxing, or at least it should be, is not without its penalties. We are constantly on guard for other pests, such as carpenter ants, which seem to thrive on the spruce wood of the house. We have kept them pretty much at bay by our vigil over the neighboring oak trees. At the first sign of activity on the trees, we are there to eradicate the little devils before they spread to the house.

We have also been prey to flocks of flickers, more specifically the yellow-shafted flicker, as they migrated through our area each fall. They would delight in pecking the wood of our house and in no time had holes drilled through the plywood paneling. After several years of this, we finally got smart and replaced the plywood sections on the house with ribbed metal panels. Problem solved. We haven’t seen one since. I guess they don’t like to peck on metal.

There seems to be a variety of wildlife around us, especially the pesky armadillo that wanders around the yard in the wee hours of the morning, leaving myriad holes in the ground and some large ones where it attempts to burrow. These curious animals are nearly impossible to get rid of, being persistent in staking their claims on our property. I have designs on my father-in-law’s trap that has gone unused since he bought it. I thought I might initiate it into its useful life by trapping this little critter. Of course, It beats staying up all night waiting to capture him. Maybe this weekend.

Then there is this pesky skunk who has taken a liking to our front porch. One of the boards around a post broke free several days ago and I had not replaced it. I happened to be leaving for work one morning and just before I opened the patio door, I saw the critter waddle up the steps and onto the porch. Well, I certainly wasn’t going out there where it was. So I watched as it made its way to the hole by the post and somehow managed to squeezed itself down through the small opening. Being a young skunk, and small, fit most handily. I decided that that evening, I would have to do something about it. I couldn’t have a family of skunks living under the porch.

That evening, I looked through the access doors to ensure that the skunk had left for his nightly prowl and placed the board that had come loose over the opening and laid a larger board and brick over it to deter the visitor. I would permanently correct it later. I felt proud of myself to outsmarting a skunk. but n the morning, I looked out as I left for work and the small board I had replaced over the opening had been slid back beneath the weight, exposing the hole. This was a crafty little bugger.

That evening, I once again checked beneath the porch. Not there. So, I replaced the board once again and screwed the thing to the framing beneath it. The next morning, my wife said she had seen the skunk wander around the porch, examining the repair I had made, obviously annoyed with my retaliation against his appropriation of my porch for a dwelling.

My wife, being a determined and capable woman, took it upon herself to drive away the offending mammal. She shooed him away to the other end of the porch where he dallied with the idea of gaining entrance through another hole there, but it was too small. Fortunately, my wife is also an avid and capable decorator, the collection of squashes and baskets on the table being ample evidence of her expertise. I never considered such decorations good for much besides decorating, but my wife can find uses for things that would astound the average person. She threw a number of the squashes at the skunk. Apparently, it astounded the animal too, since it literally scared the crap out of it and it dashed off into the woods. The creature offered no reprisal and didn’t threaten to release its potent spray, instead just hurrying off much like an unwelcome guest at a party. Of course, the incident left a bit of a mess of skunk poop on the porch for us to clean up.

The little fellow wanders back from time to time, I suppose in hopes of finding another weakness to exploit. The armadillo is still wreaking havoc with our yard. The skunk adventure has given us new confidence and we are more determined than ever to rid our lives of this horrid beast. This weekend might tell the story. By them, I should have trap in hand. Now the question is what do I use for bait? It just never ends.

About marc cullison

Retired college instructor, math and science. I write and read as much as I can. I am also working on my log house. So much to do.
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