One Of Those Days – Squirrels, Bugs & Weird Al “Foil”

looking in my “Drafts” area, I found a few I thought I’d posted, but looks like I didn’t hit yhe button. So this one is from almost half a year ago: Sept 30 2019. So enjoy the retrospective story:

Well, it’s been “one of those days” for a couple of days.

Strange smells from “somewhere” turning into “what died?” smells strongest in the “littlest room in the house”…

Skipping a lot of WT?…

So I got to suit up in my worst overalls, shirt, and gloves, done a face mask, and head down the hole.

Under the house, it is a minor forest of bits of fiberglass batting that have started to droop, in wisps, after 30 years of being there. There’s a few fibers in the air, as my nose and eyes inform me when I’m “down there” for long. (Last time was longer, repairing some subfloor a few years back). The “ground” is dead dry dust with scattered gravel just dense enough you can’t miss it all. Clearance is just enough to not be sliding on your belly, but not enough to up on all 4s. Sort of a perpetual pushup position.

I’m thinking I may need to scoot the whole length of the house 2 or three laps to find the “problem”…

I had set up a fan in a window and closed all the others, so there was positive pressure “down the hole”, and so past me and away. That helped a lot. Until I got too close.

The happy bit was that I found it in the first 20 feet of “scooting”. The unhappy bit was that it was, as feared, a dead critter. A squirrel. Perhaps that explains why the dog insisted on sitting near the “grill” of the closest vent for the last couple of days. The one just under the bathroom window. Nothing gets a dogs attention like a squirrel. Even a dead one, it would seem…

Mr. Squirrel had been expired a few days (thus the “notification by odure…”) and the flies had found him. So not just a stinky dead thing, but one starting to disassemble and rich with “wigglers”… Oh Lucky Me – NOT!

I’d brought a garbage bag, flashlight, small entrenching shovel, and a quart bottle of 20% bleach solution with squirt top. (An old rubbing alcohol bottle, re-purposed). So time to get too it.

MOST of Mr. Squirrel came up on the second try to grab somewhere. (Hips worked, tail not so much…) This left a thin layer of “wiggers” on “something” draping over lumps of gravel rock… That all got a very through drenching with the bleach and began to foam significantly. I drenched it some more. I suspect there may be one skin / fur layer still there, but the bleach ought to assure it no longer is “ripe”. I decided not to employ the shovel..

I’d inverted the plastic garbage bag and grabbed through it, then enveloped the “load” as one does “doggy doo”. Never thought I’d be happy for having picked up Puppy Poo, but it was good training for technique… Tied off the top and never even got a smidgen on me.

Now I just had to semi-raised scoot backwards out with entrenching tool, flashlight, bottle of caustic, and “The Trophy” bag…

Eventually I was back in position to practice my “dirt yoga” postures to contort my way back up the access port in the closet…

Now Mr. Squirrel is reposed in the garbage can (with a brief bleach swizzle at pick up time, I hope he can avoid re-ripening before pick up day). Clothes were stripped and inverted and into the washer. Gloves and shovel rinsed and out on the patio. Then I was off to the shower.

I believe the mission was accomplished, as the “strange smells” are no longer present. Or at least my nose was so overwhelmed I can’t tell anymore and the spouse is willing to accept any improvement ;-) But I like to think it is from 100% success…

And now, several hours later, I’m ALMOST ready to think about maybe trying to have dinner tonight. Possibly. Maybe I’ll have pancakes… You wanna get pancakes? (Vague “Reds” reference ;-)

With the deed done, I decided to “kick back” a little. What did YouTube offer me? Weird Al “Foil”. From 2014, yet I’d never seen it. A knock off of Royals. Somehow it was refreshing at the start… then it turned on me, reminding me of my deed for the day. Then it went to Crazy Land:

For those who might not know the original, here it is (USA Version – I’d hoped for the UK version but this came up):

How did the squirrel get there? Well, some larger critter that is clearly quite strong had pushed the screening wire in on one of our vents around the base of the house. I put it back. He pushed it in again. I decided to surrender. I think it was a possum, but maybe something else. At any rate, he sleeps under the house in very cold weather dead of winter (and seems to keep the snails down).

My guess is the squirrel was “surprised” by one of the dogs and instead of heading back up the apple tree, headed for the hole. Or maybe it was just an old tired squirrel looking for place to give up the ghost. Whatever.

It’s over now.

What? Not the kind of uplifting story you expected? Wondering “Where’s the science analysis and computer stuff? Thinking this is maybe kind of “tacky”?

Well, maybe it is:

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to One Of Those Days – Squirrels, Bugs & Weird Al “Foil”

  1. tom0mason says:

    Weird Al, simply the best.
    :-)

  2. Octave Fiddler says:

    One ‘advantage’ of being a long term CPAP user;
    Tons of old hoses, masks, and at least one old machine with a potentiometer on it.

    So, for heinous cleanups,
    (such as the inadequately protected ‘survival supplies’ that became expensive rat poop, etc),
    (yeah, yeah, metal cans…)
    I splice a bunch of old hoses together, (3/4 pvc ‘barb’ fittings, blue tape),
    and crank that pot up to maximum pressure, maybe 10 or 15 in w.c. , and go to town.

    Improved version will be supplied air to flood eye zone, or ?
    Probably should look into a sandblast hood or ?

    Probably you have more self-awareness than me,
    but another Mandatory Gear for subspace/attic for me is Hard Hat. or bike helmet.
    Far too many Protruding nails,
    right where I impulsively raise my head
    when I am 1/2 way to freakout from the stress of confinement in crappy spaces.
    You don’t want to force a loved one to come rescue you from a bloody self-impalement…

    Also, Hat-Mounted Headlamp, which does not supplant hand-held unit.
    Yes, and Cell phone to take pix of key nameplates or look up info.

    BTW, I gave up on DIY Oxygen generator/concentrator.
    $250 on Craigslist, nice life-support grade unit with less than 3 years service.

    One other thing;
    I never understood that rats tunnel along pipes to get from outside to the crawlspace,
    from whence they can breed and raise their brood in insulated comfort in walls/roof.
    The exterminator pulled 65 dead ones out of our house when this all became known.
    “Yikes!”
    ‘Rat-proofing’ involves wire mesh screen across all such access points, attached by mastic cement.
    We poured thin concrete on the dirt, which is now a potent source of toxic dust when I roll the creeper across it. No easy answers…

    OF

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tom0Mason:

    And he’s a good match to such days :-)

    @O.F.:

    I’ve got a compressor and next time (hopefully there won’t be one…) I’m taking the hose down the hole with me. Wonder if anyone makes a mask that takes the usual quick connect fitting….

    Looks like $46 is the cheap end, a few thousand at the high end.
    https://www.amazon.com/Allegro-Industries-9910-Assembly-Suspension/dp/B012D8N2PG/ref=sr_1_32?keywords=Supplied+Air+Respirator&qid=1582157451&sr=8-32

    “Supplied air respirator” is the proper search term …

    I’d likely need to plumb in a particle and activated carbon filter set, but I have those parts… from a long ago project… looks like Amazon has such a kit in one of them, at about $500 ….

    Or maybe I’ll just pay the guy down the street to do it ;-)

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Friend of mine had a similar problem, the dead critter was a SKUNK ! that had died in the in the insulation space between the floor joist. I had the pleasure of assisting him as he hunted the decaying body and removed it. We are old farm boys, used to dealing with very dead things , but, that had to be the worst smell of any that I have ever encountered. Talking about gagging a maggot. OMG!

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting you should mention that, I had reason to buy one of these a while back could to be re-purposed to zone air flow for such a job. Compressors are awfully expensive for the necessary air flow volume and without major engineering changes you are always struggling to get all the necessary crap down the hole for that 20 minute job.

    I picked up one of the 4 inch units to have the pieces to build an UV-C setup for air in the apartment.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J5VN82X/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting gadget…

    Gave me an idea though… go down the hole then have the spouse lay the box fan on the access hole. Then use the cell phone when I need it removed.

  7. tom0mason says:

    Like a surgeon …

  8. tom0mason says:

    “Weird” Al Yankovic – Amish Paradise (Official Parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise”)

  9. cdquarles says:

    Worst smell I’ve encountered is dead human. Ugh; and I’ve seen plenty of death.

  10. Kent Gatewood says:

    “You don’t love me anymore” would be my favorite song by Al.

  11. Steve C says:

    @cdquarles – I’m inclined to agree about us humans, albeit on a sample of one, though no decaying animal is far behind IME. When I was at school half a century since, some wag (not me, honest) taped one modest oyster to the back of one of the radiators in the school hall during a late rehearsal for that year’s play, which made the atmosphere in the whole area progressively more … “distinctive” … for a gratifying number of weeks (~10). Nobody on the staff found the (very) offending creature until well after the show was over, though all the pupils, of course, knew what was going on from day two.

    Rotting vegetables also have a charm all their own. During one upper school Chemistry practical we synthesised a simple version of the chemical – a mercaptan – which gives rotting cabbage its distinctive smell. It is interesting to note that, once the first burst of it has thoroughly appalled your olfactory system, you rapidly acclimatise to it – we had to sniff at the test-tubes to check progress during the experiment. It was particularly entertaining, though, when on a couple of occasions we heard the door, at the back of the lab, open: look up quickly, and you’d see some hapless individual staggering back into the corridor looking suddenly ill, urgently shutting the door behind him. Much mirth all round, always conducive to a good learning experience ;-)

    After an upbringing like that, E.M.,I must applaud your robust attitude to your unwanted visitor. “If you’re going to rot and stink, matey, you can do it somewhere else, and take your little friends with you”. Hope a fresh beer after a good wash cleared the afterglow of that “aroma” from your sinuses!

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    IIRC, it was a nice red wine, but yes! :-)

    FWIW, in high school chem class we did a biochem segment, including various stuff in a stack of petri dishes for a few days. Many were a “no big”, but OMG the one with milk after a few days would cause a gag reflex in most of us. These were farm kids used to animal poo and the occasional dead critter or live skunk… I’d been around bad milk a lot, but never that many days bad (as we’d clean up at first smell). By far worse than M.Squirrel.

  13. Compu Gator says:

    Never accept [b]fiberglass[/b] or plastic screen-door screening as the only screening on [b]eave-ventilation[/b] openings, at least not in Florida. [b]Squirrels[/b] and [b]big rats[/b] will happily [b]munch[/b] thro’ that material to establish [b]nests[/b] in the attic. Suspending themselves upside-down while they munch seems not to bother such vermin at all. I had that problem at a place I rented years ago, and its cheap aßh*le of a landlord simply replaced the munched-thro’ screening, whose ineffectiveness had plainly been demonstrated, with equally inadequate fresh fiberglass or plastic screening. [em]W.t.f.?[/em] Yeah, it [em]does[/em] count as a “repair” in a simple-minded way, but when you’re already going to pay materials & labor costs to remove the boards of the eaves to install new screening, then go ahead and splurge for [b]1/4-in. ‘hardware cloth’[/b] to protect the new screening [#]. Or replace the original screening with perforated aluminum–not vinyl!–sheets that now seem to be available for the purpose.

    ——-
    Note #: I worry that one might need to accept screen-door screening that’s only fiberglass or plastic instead of aluminum, because sandwiching aluminum screening with galvanized-steel ‘hardware cloth’ might create electrolysis issues. Readers should feel free to correct me on that issue.

  14. Compu Gator says:

    (Ahhh, expletive!: I used the mark-up syntax of another site, even tho’ I wasn’t posting this reply over there! Feel free to delete the 1 that used the wrong syntax! I fervently wish that you had a ‘preview’ button.)

    Never accept fiberglass or plastic screen-door screening as the only screening on eave-ventilation openings, at least not in Florida. Squirrels and big rats will happily munch thro’ that material to establish nests in the attic. Suspending themselves upside-down while they munch seems not to bother such vermin at all. I had that problem at a place I rented years ago, and its cheap aßh*le of a landlord simply replaced the munched-thro’ screening, whose ineffectiveness had plainly been demonstrated, with equally inadequate fresh fiberglass or plastic screening. W.t.f.? Yeah, it does count as a “repair” in a simple-minded way, but when you’re already going to pay materials & labor costs to remove the boards of the eaves to install new screening, then go ahead and splurge for 1/4-in. ‘hardware cloth’ to protect the new screening . Or replace the original screening with perforated aluminum–not vinyl!–sheets that now seem to be available for the purpose.

    ——-
    Note #: I worry that one might need to accept screen-door screening that’s only fiberglass or plastic instead of aluminum, because sandwiching aluminum screening with galvanized-steel ‘hardware cloth’ might create electrolysis issues. Readers should feel free to correct me on that issue.

  15. H.R. says:

    @Compu Gator:

    1) electrolysis… I call mixed metal reactions like that galvanic reactions, and I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt a few times when cleaning up after someone who got a “a bright idea” and didn’t inform anyone else what they were going to do to “save time and money.” [Alert! Disasterous results!]

    2) I have a Cairn terrier, Sandy (Toto, if you need a hint), and a Scottish Terrier, Piper, on one side of the heavy, heavy fiberglass screen I use to keep them from tearing their way out to the back yard to kill vermin.

    Meanwhile, any vermin that penetrates our perimeter defenses has a lifespan of approximately 90 seconds. Those two are the sweetest, cutest, most lovable killing machines you ever want to meet, which is why they were bred for that task many hundreds of years ago.

    Anyhow, that’s my situation. If you’re dependent on a landlord well… leave for 3-4 days, seal the building*, use a combination of 80%CO2/20%Cyanide gas to kill all the vermin, and leave your landlord the problem of cleaning up any of the bodies (vermin/rodents, other renters, the mailman, etc.) and the paperwork that such action would generate.

    *Note: It is considered ‘Good Form’ to notify your neighbors when you intend to seal them into an 80/20 CO2/cyanide environment. Not strictly necessary, but the old-fashioned among us still consider it good manners to at least mention it.

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