It used to be I would loose sleep over how to make a product all it could ever become. Then I lost sleep to 3 growing children. This night I am awakened by a distant but still loud chewing sound. My children generally masticate quietly. I knew the sound was not good.
Thanks to both James and Stephen for their insights into what was trying to eat its way through the floor into our house. Wednesday night was a late one for me as I could hear very loud chewing downstairs underneath our groovy 1970’s style wet bar, now serving as centralized game and Lego storage zone. I thought a beaver had made its home under the house and was cutting timber right under the wet bar.
James told me he thought it was probably a raccoon or ground hog. He also assaulted my self-made impression of good homeowner of with the thought of very loud termites. Then in the same timeframe, Austin asks us to put together pictures of giant South American Termite mounds. These mounds were several feet tall. A few short moments of homeowner terror and I was OK again.
Stage One was to leave the door open for several hours at night. Stephen made this suggestion. I did this last night after looking around under the house myself. We have a walk-in crawl space complete with lighting. I left it open until about 11:30 with the lights off. The mental challenge for me is that an open door is naturally an equal invitation to come in or to get out.
This afternoon “Sally the Intrepid” my dear wife, ventured under the house to see what was eating at our place. She is apparently a pioneer at heart and took the preparations of Girls Scout training and camps of her youth very seriously. I am sure she must have earned her spelunking merit badge. From inside the crawlspace she confirmed that the chewing critter now believed to be a raccoon, was coming in around the flashing for the big carbon foot print expanding HVAC unit. Racoon poop found close by was apparently convincing (too big for a skunk). Also no residual skunk after-odor I am told. Using the easy to find rocks found around our yard she piled good size rocks on both sided of the sheet metal lined entrance point. Girl Scout solution in action.
Game plan Tonight: listen for chewing of the house. If no chewing, scratching or no other raccoon noises (they make 51 different sounds –net knowledge)
Lessons Learned While at The Jail
A few short weeks ago our family took a tour of the newly opened $80 million dollar jail. I learned my children seemed all too comfortable with being in a jail and I can tell you it was noisy. Hard Surfaces. Jail bars. Tables made into the floor. (kind of like the food court) Very nice for a jail but definitely overpriced at $80 million. The local crowd understands though. It is a monument to what not to do with a large construction project and poor site placement. Located on a very visible major thoroughfare and easily seen for blocks and blocks. This is a huge design problem for me. A basic mistake. They built it in the wrong place. I know I will have to accept it. I cannot change it. I hope the jail cost overrun fiasco keeps local officials humble for decades to come.
Tomorrow: I will pound a few short iron rebar in front of the raccoon entrance area near the big carbon footprint expander. Hopefully this will be a symbol to the raccoon (with intelligence near that of Monkeys -internet) that it has been barred from the crawlspace. It should also be an literal symbol of the potential incarceration that could await if it got back in. I hope the jail bars tell do the trick and prompt the raccoon and its raccoon family and friends to stay out of our crawlspace.
The Kind of Thing a Designer Wants to Know Before Starting a Project
I now know raccoons follow a path at night, going from one potential food source to another night after night. So – things I know so far on the raccoon feeding path- 1. our bird feeder (about 15 ft over the ground) 2. our crawlspace 3. The rec room trim. 4. the tree limb over our bedroom. I did notice the rec room door aluminum trim was kind of chewed up in a different way from normal door-trim chewing.
I think the coolness of the crawl space must be like animal air conditioning; still a luxury in the great outdoors, always a luxury in the South. Apparently the raccoon with monkey-like intelligence and I agree, the our house is a decent place to spend a hot humid evening.
Today’s other wildlife adventure
After dinner tonight, our middle daughter, the designated trash and garbage removal professional of the household, discovers a scary and healthy looking black widow spider in the lid of the big green garbage can with wheels. A quick verification on the net illustrates all too well it is the real thing. Our youngest daughter – the one who wants to be a wildlife photographer, found her camera while I observed the black widow by holding the can lid open. I was fortunate to have my reading glasses on me. This is a very cool looking spider. (Still scary). The red dots on its glossy black back were so very red. Nature is so cool. I am not, with these glasses looking into the giant green plastic can with wheels for maybe twenty minutes. The neighbors only look and wonder as they drive by as I help give my 8 year a good shot. She wants to send it to a magazine. I think to myself…..the green background of the can lid just doesn’t do the spider shot justice.