This Far and No Further

Statue of Polish king in Central Park

Raccoons are not cute

Neither are possums or armadillos or squirrels. Don’t even try to argue the point with me because it’ll get you absolutely nowhere. I used to be like you, in love with all of God’s creatures. 

Not any more. 

I am not against wildlife, mind you. I am content to share my yard. If an animal wants dig up and trash my potted plants over and over again looking for God knows what, I am cool with that. But so help me, if one decides to crawl into the attic or walls of my house and DIE, we will have words and many of those words will consist of only four letters.

Here’s the thing….

I love my house. It is not a big house but built in the 1940’s it has tons of character. It is big enough without being pretentious or too expensive to cool in the hell heat of summer. It is located in the center of a little city/town. Best of all, it’s completely paid for. No mortgage.

Now, the thing about old houses in this area is that they are built on pier and beam, meaning there is a crawl space under the house that could fit a grown man on his hands and knees. As you can imagine, animals like that area quite a lot, too. Warm or cool depending on the season. Hidden. Food nearby. What’s not to love?

Shortly after buying this house, the first hint of odor wafted through the walls upstairs. Within 24 hours it was very clear an animal had died somewhere. I searched everywhere to try to find that carcass. Never could find it. Do you know how long it takes the stench of a liquefying animal to burn off? 

About five days, as it turns out.

Now, I am certain I am not the only one this happens to. Dead animals in your walls is of those dirty little secrets no one ever wants to admit to for fear of being judged… like enjoying oral sex. But it happened to me and my house several times a year for a number of years. 

Dead animals were not the only problem, though. Hoards of bot flies would descend upon the house from time to time like a plague straight out of Egypt. You know how flies are. 2-3 buzzing about feels like a lot. This was over fifty. Inside my house. All at once. Bot flies like dead animals. They LOVED my house. I am a pretty good shot with a fly swatter now, after all of that practice. 

Almost as bad as the flies and the stench was waking up to an MMA fight in progress in my ceiling in the dead of night. And did you know that chewing sounds are magnified by sheet rock? Sounded like some sort of jack hammer. The sleep deprivation was real, people. I would hear loud noises in the yard and run outside only to find entire families of animals, specifically raccoons, scrabbling up the side of my house. 

How were they getting in?!??????!!!

Finally, I was at my wits end. My family and I had endured QUITE enough and I was ready to torch the place, paid off or not. How could I in good conscience pass off this to someone else?

I couldn’t.

So I scoured the internet for advice, all of which was most unhelpful. Those animals practically scoffed at the nauseating stench of the red fox pee that was sprayed all over the house and property. The only thing it deterred was me. You name it, I tried it.

The man of the house took to using one of those *humane* traps, thinking if we could catch them before they ended up in the walls and attic that might help. We placed *inhumane* traps throughout the attic crawl spaces that could be reached. We caught dozens of raccoons, possums, and armadillos. Animal control knew my voice well.

“Yeah, yeah. We know who you are and where you live…” the man on the other end of the line would growl.

Something tells me that they were not taking those animals *away* to release them. 

One day, whilst bemoaning the vermin issue with a neighbor who was experiencing similar issues, I was informed that an old lady down the street was feeding the raccoons by putting food out for them at night. Rarely have I felt a desire to do violence against another fellow human being but this was one of those times. She did die eventually but not by my hand…

You know what seemed to work? Chicken wire. Chicken wire all over the eaves and attic vents. Chicken wire along the base of the house. Chicken wire anywhere an animal might try to weasel its way inside.

And…. that lady down the street? She stopped feeding the wildlife…. 

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131 thoughts on “This Far and No Further

  1. Been there, done that. We’ve even had a raccoon in our duct work. Looking up at us from a floor vent…in our bedroom. It’s a constant battle. Yes on the chicken wire. Steel wool works in small crevices too. πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh my. Well I feed my wildlife, I do, but I can’t say there’s enough for more than my birds and squirrels. I reckon now and again a possum or skunk comes by, I’ve seen a possum cross my street, and smelled skunk on my dog more times than I care to count. I have a crawlspace, but not like yours, cause northern.
    Hooray for chicken wire, I guess. Almost as good as a house owned in full.
    Armadillos are not cute. They’re ..monsters and I don’t miss them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We too live in a solid old house. In the 20 some years we have been here, I have encountered a little snake in the laundry basket, squirrels in the soffit, a raccoon with babies in the room above the garage, bats, salamanders, mice and I am pretty sure a rat. I especially hate rats. One of the girls came home one night years ago, with some friends..one of them asked about the little puppy scurrying across the floor…we didn’t have a little puppy @ the time. Creeped me out πŸ™‚ Got our mortgage paid off several years ago as well. I am planning to stay here until the day I go moose hunting. DM

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m on a farm. Mice in my ceiling/pantry/walls make me RAGE. I’ve lost many sleep hours of my life marching around like the demented banging on ceilings with a broom handle, pounding on walls with my hands…..
    I now have twelve cats. I do not buy cat food – they are all fat and happy from eating grain fed mice, and the occasional muskrat – outside. I am horribly allergic to cats – still – I have one super killer inside cat who’s sole job in life is to sit and stare at the open pantry door all night and destroy my neatly arranged shelves should she need to while killing mice. Thank you god we do not have raccoons or possums up here. I would probably come unhinged.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Yay for chicken wire! πŸ™‚ OH yes and for the lady down the street that stopped feeding the animals. πŸ™‚
    My dear friend lives in an old house and they deal with bats coming in! Have you ever had those visitors?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seems like quite the opportunity you’re overlooking, VD. Think of all that roast raccoon, squirrel stew, and possum pie you could be feasting on. Think of your house as a lure, and your shotgun as a freezer-filler. You could even make fancy coats out of them critters.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I couldn’t help but smile reading your post. I’m laughing with you not at you?
    While I do love animals I don’t handle sleep deprivation very well. I’m glad the chicken wire is working.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. my gardens were infested with wild cats and squirrels ( put flea collor and name tag on my cat she chased most if the wild life away) the other I used moth balls and sprayed vinegar all over, citrus helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My lovely 100+ year old farm house which I loved so much despite the ghosts, turned me off wildlife too. The mice were one thing, and the starling that got in through the roof every morning to swoop down as I was having my coffee. It knew the cat was going to grab it and chaos would erupt as I scolded the cat and open the door Every morning–I think it was the same starling.What I could not, can not, never will handle was the Bats!! They, too would swoop down from the attic as I trampled my own kids to get out the door first. And rats the size of that ‘puppy’ mentioned earlier terrorized the kids and I. I poisoned them, feeling bad as they grabbed their pretty pink throats and gasped for air.Even the cat sighed a breath of relief. Karma really rots!! Now I have chronic lyme disease from a deer nice enough t0 house a tick which bit my dog and got us both deathly sick. Sigh. Animals aren’t that cute to me anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We do feed our share of small animals but we do our best to keep them outside. So far, so good. We had squirrels in a house we were renting, many years ago. Once, in the attic. Chased out, hole sealed with hardware cloth (in case chunked eitevever fails).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A few weeks ago our cat brought in a juvenile squirrel. I told the girls to stop screaming and help me chase it outside. We managed to chase it right past the open door and into the coat closet. After tons of banging on the walls and knocking things around with broom handles it ran across the top shelf and jumped out right at me. It hit my chest and slid down my leg. I will be forever traumatized. My daughters had a good laugh at me screaming and running to the nearest chair and I will never live it down. They were the ones who eventually chased it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Vermin….no fun. You could have quite the conversation with my friend SB, she has had her battles with all of the above. Sometimes at book club if we are lucky….we can get her going. We laugh until we cry….she will tell you it’s not funny. I have bludgeoned my fair share of mice but nothing bigger. I had a few encounters with a possum or two at the old house and while it wasn’t the best experience we both walked away with our lives. At least possum eat ticks, I don’t know of any use for the other two creatures. I’m glad the chicken wire worked, good houses with character are few and far between.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The people we bought the house from only lived here about a year. I suspect they gave up after a couple of the dead animals…. After they painted the downstairs bathroom bright orange and black they deserved to be driven out. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I can relate to all of that: first the smell and then the flies. Raccoons, squirrels, possums, feral cats have all been a nuisance one way or another. I’ve known since we moved into this house 19 years ago that black snakes live in the attic. My wife didn’t know until I finally had to tell her when she saw a huge black snake crawling out from behind the siding as she walked by the corner of the house. Haven’t seen any this year so hopefully they have been eliminated.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love the little furry animals in my yard and in the trees, but I wouldn’t want them in my house, either. Hubby nearly killed himself last year when I made him trim back the branch that was overhanging the roof because I had seen a squirrel jump from that branch onto the roof. No way was I allowing that! Glad the chicken wire worked for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We had an injured skunk crawl into our basement to die and while it waited to die it began to release its “fragrance.” It was horrible. I sent the kids to a friend’s house and I stayed because we had to leave all the windows open to try to get rid of the stench. It took about a week.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Construction methods and mammalian life are different here… my little flat has the garden doors open all day and most of the night, all year round with the dog. I get nothing bigger than spiders and the odd curious bird. But the flies? Biblical….
    Years ago, I lived in a house hundreds of years old. The levels were spilt on a hill so that the kitchen was technically underground, yet still gave onto the garden. Surrounded by miles of fields, the rats made a bee line for the house. We never saw them… they only came into the space above the kitchen ceiling… but you could hear them having a ball and watch the electric lights swaying as they played…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Raccoons are a scourge. We’ve had hundreds of dollars in damage to our roof for several summers in a row from raccoons trying to break into our attic through a vent. It turns out we too had a neighbour feeding them, but thankfully she has now moved away. Who feeds raccoons anyway?!! They are world class scavengers!!
    Preventing them from climbing up the walls to the roof has been an on-going challenge. I like your chicken wire solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You have just found a new way to make money! You will charge for counsel about chicken wire and steel wool. Beware, Pest Control; you should have been more sensitive to her need. Now you have competition!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t know how to thank you enough for linking in my mind the images of “enjoying oral sex” and “dead animals liquifying in the bedroom walls.” I really, REALLY don’t…

    Something tells me it’s a lasts-a-lifetime gift, so a thank you of some sort really feels in order.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. (hanging head) I am the crazy lady down the street who feeds the animals. I had mice in the house but Magoo the cat is pretty good at getting them and so we have none now. She would leave them where I would step on them. I found a dead chipmunk upside down on my car in the garage. But I had the garage resealed and they are gone. I have a dove up on my deck and a sparrow family also. Other than that, they all seem to stay out side. Squirrels, bunnies, raccoons, possums and chipmunks. I would have deer but I have a fenced yard and they cannot get in.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Being in the city, we have had infestations of mice (in the house–electric traps work very well) and rats (on the street–the city is actually pretty vigilant about trying to control those), but we also have raccoons! The city won’t do a thing about those, and they do go through screens if you live on the first floor. They are quite brazen.
    When a mouse or rat dies either in the walls or nearby outside…I know not only the smell but the flies. We also get infestations of ants every spring. It’s a rodent’s and insect’s world…(K)

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I once battled a raccoon that made its way to the balcony of my condo. Took a broom to “shoo” it away. Raccoons don’t “shoo.” They bare their teeth and growl and basically reply, “Bring it!” I will confess: I gave that creature a very good poke with the broom handle.

    Another prize-winning post Seriously, very good, and deserves wider readership. I am in awe of the caliber of writing that I can enjoy just for signing up to WP.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I live in the country but I don’t have any of that fun – no wabbits, no possums, no squirrels. We moved here in the mid spring and I had visions of me sitting out in the garden, enjoying breakfast, my dogs by my feet and listening to the sounds of nature. I took my coffee and toast outside and the dogs took off as 87 million flies decided to help me enjoy my breakfast. As for the sounds of nature – couldn’t hear a blessed thing for the noise of these damn birds

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! You know, when I DID live in the country I never had this kind of problem. More space for them to forage I guess? Living in the city and having these issues was a bit of a shock to me.

      Like

  24. Thank you and your comment-ers for the stories and the laughs. And the memories. Of rats in the walls of a trailer I lived in for a month. Of stepping on a half-dead chipmunk while going down the basement stairs. Of waking up to racoons eating bread on my kitchen counter – they were getting in by opening two magnetized cat doors. Of transporting 3 of said racoons to woods 15+ miles away. Of hiring a very good professional to remove rhe remains of a starling nest from the bathroom vent pipe – AND he didn’t charge me. Of moving our bird feeders away from the house because we spotted a rat. Of waking up to – yet another – live mouse being carried into our bedroom by cats who want company. Of removing ~50 large pine cones from under the hood of my car. All but the trailer incident come from rural PEI, Canada. We plan to move to a condo “in town” this fall. What will we do for excitement?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’m glad you posted this one. We had a mouse infestation one winter in Nevada. They only moved away when a pair of weasels took up residence in my woodpile. Here’s a hint: A terrier is an even better mouser than a cat, and they don’t pause to eat them. Several winters before the weasel rescue, my old bull terrier killed a brace of mice scurrying in opposite directions, because one just wasn’t enough. (He also knocked the couch over while doing it.) Feral cats were big pests there too, but the dog ran them off too. I seem to remember you wanting a dog… scotty, cairn… miniature bull terrier…

    Liked by 2 people

  26. What did you do that old lady???? We have just had an infestation of paper wasps. I kept rescuing them until I gave in and called the bug man. Many of our neighbors have had critters in the attic but I think our cats kept them away. They do have parties under our deck though… In Scotland we lived in an old bank and every year our house would stink when field mice moved in over the winter. I feel your pain and I like oral sex too. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I love all animals (and, yes, raccoons look cute but are a nightmare to handle when you’re a wildlife rescue person trying to feed the juveniles). I’ve spent years rescuing wildlife (hawk babies, possum babies, raccoon babies, etc.) And I love armadillos…I’ve found them to be very sweet and gentle souls. We always had animals dying in our attic crawlspace–it was just a part of life in the South. We were kinda laid back about it, because animals were part of the local ecosystem, and, maybe it’s a Southern thing, but we were pretty comfortable with animals and unmanicured lawns and wild growth (it’s all changed, now, where I grew up in Florida. But those are rants are for my own blog.) My pet peeve, though? Please, PLEASE don’t feed wildlife (says the wildlife rescuer/worker). They are NOT pets. They are WILD animals. It’s pretty much a death sentence for a lot of wildlife when you feed them. They get used human contact, and can get really aggressive over food (especially raccoons). Feeding raccoons is the equivalent of those un-savvy tourists at the beach who feed a “cute” little seagull, and then they are divebombed and run off the beach by a huge flock. While we natives/long-timers all laugh. Wildlife that is fed eventually becomes a nuisance. Also, the more shady people that come out and remove wildlife in those humane traps will often say that they are relocating the animal, but the truth is there’s nowhere for the animal to go, so they are often euthanized on the DL.So, again, don’t feed raccoons. Don’t feed gators. Don’t even feed the (Muscovy) ducks. Keep wildlife wild!

    Liked by 2 people

    • High five for you! Death every once in a while I could handle but suffocating stench several times a year and the recurrent flies… I just could not endure it anymore! I don’t know what I would have done if it had continued.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. This was so funny to read even though the circumstance was not funny. Had you not found a way to keep them out I was in good humour (Well I think I’m funny) suggest Billy the Exterminator. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I hear ya. We get dead mice in the walls of our house from time to time because I’ve been too lazy to hire someone to crawl under my house and plug up the holes where our plumbing and other pipes come through our floor. Glad your problem seems to be in the rear view.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Oh dear, it seems to be a day for posts about unwanted house guests (rodents, etc). Two posts on Facebook and now your post here…. sigh…. I’m quite happy to have creatures live outide the house but I draw the line at them coming indoors – which, of course, they do from time to time.

    I know about the stench, I seem to be allergic to one of the gasses so I get a reaction in my lungs before my brain tells my nose what it is. Two years running we had rats – in our loft. Pest control put down poison which sent them (the rats, not pest control) down the cavity walls and under the floor in our sitting room, and some remained in the loft just above our bedroom. It was sheer hell. If the smell from yours lasted 5 days, it was probably mice. Rats – being larger – took two to three weeks before the smell began to go. I sometimes think that the previous owners moved so that someone else could ‘enjoy’ the aroma!

    Do you really have armadillos as pests? If so… wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Someone feeding the wildlife nearby, yeah, that would anger me too, lol. It’s in the term ‘wild’ that these animals are not domesticated. They let nature be the dictate of their limits. In other words, do not treat them like pets. Even baby squirrels raised by people (there are stories of this) become difficult to handle as they become adults.

    We have a rodent problem here, which includes, recently, squirrels getting into the house. Sometimes I see one in trees rooted near the house (may be a good idea to cut them down). Sometimes mice will die in the house, but it’s nothing like your experience. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The other day I was running in the dark on my street. My left foot landed in something softish. Using my phone light to get a look I saw it was a dead squirrel. On the one hand I was grossed out. I had just stepped on a dead squirrel. On the other hand I was happy. It was a DEAD squirrel. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  32. And here I am, complaining to my husband about finding some little sugar ants in the bathroom. Oh my lord, I couldn’t do that. Reading other comments in this thread — *shudders*

    (Also, pretty sure you’re probably the first person who’s ever written about dead animals and oral sex in the same sentence.)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Years ago, my kids and I bottle fed baby squirrels who fell from trees in high winds. Their little squirrel hands holding the bottle was so sweet. We released them when they were big enough and my son cried. Yet, I would never consider doing this for a rat or mouse. What is so endearing about that bushy tail? Or maybe rats are less appealing due to the collective plague memories passed on through the generations. Fortunately, I have never smelled he death stench inside our house. Our coon hound keeps most critters away and I’m sure she would gobble up any babies that fall now. But we do have lots of squirrels in the trees and traipsing around on our roof and I would not be surprised if they were living in the attic. Gonna keep that chicken wire in mind, and, after reading all this, I will continue to resist the urge to feed them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Babies are so hard to resist. As a kid I found a baby mocking bird that fell out of its nest and fed it until it was big enough to fly away. I would probably feel differently about these animals if I had not had the issues I have had now… πŸ™‚

      Like

  34. I feel your pain. We live in a farmhouse built in 1888 and badly renovated in 2004. I am familiar with all of your problems. We also live in the middle of the woods. Mice, possums and not so furry visitors like two six-foot rat snakes, we have them all. I went to pick my first corn of the season from my garden and found the raccoons had beat me to it. Enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I love animals too. Some of them are a nuisance and I can relate. I used to live in a wooded area with lots of deer, who’d eat all my flowers and shrubs. One time, I saw a pack of raccoons scaling my house like ninja warriors. They have sharp claws and can cling. I used my hose to wet them down and they climbed off the house and scurried back into the woods. Everyone who owns a home must make sure to do what you did and seal off as best as they can. Some creatures will still find you and it’s just part of life. We are an ecosystem and all living beings will interact at some point. Best wishes and hope you are enjoying your day.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I’m with you totally regarding the raccoons! They are mean and nasty! We have done battle with them for years trying to keep them out of our vineyard. Thank goodness the lady who was feeding them moved away!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. You Shall Not Pass!! Good job finally fending off the critters. I agree with you. Wild life is great… But OUTSIDE! Racoons don’t see us breaking into their burrows to have our young. Hmm, I think you get my meaning. 😝

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Oh my….we just had to fight off a raccoon at our home in California….late in the night on our first night home, I was awoken by noises come under the bathtub….something scratching and thumping the tub…hummmm I quizzed my cousin, who is staying at the house, and she said what ever it was had been under the house for some time….lots of feral cats around, I was sure that’s what it was until I was getting a cup of coffee a couple mornings later and low and behold a huge raccoon popped up on the deck…..huge, had to be around 50#’s….so the fight started….after several smoke bombs….man do they stink….and lots of cougar piss….we finally won…..we were able to seal the crawl space under the house….it didn’t deter him from ripping up the lattice under the deck, but he finally stopped….we called many wildlife people and they all want anywhere from $150 to 500 dollars to get rid of him, with no guarantee…so my husband took to it an won….I just heard from my cousin and he is back pooing in the yard but has left the lattice alone…there is no way he can get under the house, my husband was the hero….I feel for you…as a child living in a National Park, my father was always fighting with something, squirrel’s, skunks, raccoons, deer….LOL nothing like being a home owner….LOL I find it helps make you appreciate your house even more when your fighting off wild life….LOL hope your having a great weekend…kat

    Liked by 1 person

  39. I feel your pain. Our lower livingroom has a tiny space underneath the flooring but you would think it was the Taj Mahal by the vast number of critters that fight for squatter’s rights. The skunks are the worst. When they mate, the female releases her “pleasure” by giving a nice big spray of her Eau De Stink. And sister, you haven’t lived until you have awoken in the middle of the night with a mouthful of skunk odor.
    Other times I hear construction and demolishing going on at all hours of the day and night. I swear they have crane and one of those giant wrecking balls under there. Of course, hubs is never home to hear any of this so I sit in fear that some night I will be watching TV and I’ll look away and see some critter in a yellow hard hat sitting there looking back at me!

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