Sunday, August 16, 2009

Of Butterflies and Rodents

I began my phone call to Matt yesterday with this question: "Which do you want first--the good news or the bad news?" Like me, he always prefers to hear bad news first, then chase it with the good news. But not yesterday. Yesterday I gave him the good news first. Here is what I said.

The good news is that our annual termite inspection turned up no evidence of termites.
The bad news is that the termite inspector found a really bad rat infestation in the crawl space under our house. There was evidence of possums there, too.
The good news is that we don't have to pay Terminix $1200 to clean out the crawl space, and that it will only cost us $30.
The bad news is that to get the $30 rate, you will have to clean it out yourself.
The good news is that insulation is easy to remove.
The bad news is that the insulation is so full of rat urine and crap that you'll need to wear a protective body suit, gloves, mask, and goggles in order to clean it all out. Thus, the $30.
The good news is that once the crawl space is cleaned out, we should all be much healthier.
The bad news is that all the respiratory illnesses we've had in our family in the last few months have been caused by bacteria from the rat-crapped crawl space seeping into our air system. It could even be the main, contributing factor in Pepper's chronic croup. (at this point commence the gagging...)

I finished my announcement with a piece of good news: "Guess what Honey? There's nothing on our calendar for this weekend so you can clean out the crawl space tomorrow!" Oh goodie...

When we woke up this morning, we were not yet ready to tackle the rat room. We figured the likelihood of encountering rats was higher during the morning, so we opted to wait for afternoon. Instead, we headed out to the Little Rock Farmer's Market for one more summer morning before school starts. I love the colors, smells, and sounds of the Farmer's Market. I didn't buy anything today because frankly, my spending money has grown wings and flown away. But my camera ate up the fresh produce and flowers just fine for free. We also paid a visit to the park by the Farmer's Market, which has a wonderful fountain for kids to play in. Snapper and Pepper love this park. It was one last splash of summer before school starts on Wednesday. Here are a few pictures from my morning.

This afternoon Matt and I tackled the rat toilet. Lucky Matt got to wear the protective gear and go under the house to rip out the offending insulation. He's my own, personal superhero...Rat Matt to the rescue!

I tied a bandana around my face, wore the oldest clothes I could find, and pulled all the insulation into a pile in the yard as Matt shoved it out from under the house. I can't even begin to describe how GROSS, YUCKY, DISGUSTING, REVOLTING, HORRID, NASTY, and EWWWWWWWW that job was! When all the insulation was out, it made a pile 15 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 6 feet high. It then took us an hour to stuff all that insulation into black trash bags...17 of them, to be exact. I can't tell you the last time my shower was so inviting and wonderful!

The next step will be to put ammonia under the house to drive out any remaining rats. Then we'll seal the pipe they're using as a door, and hope none have stayed behind to die under the house. If that happens, Terminix will come and remove the dead rat. Thank God for Terminix!

Because this post has been so nasty, I'd better leave you with something lovely to dwell on, something that won't give you the heebie-jeebies, but will fill your mind with visions of rainbows, flowers, and butterflies. Here's my favorite photo of the weekend, taken in my neighbor's zinnia bed. It might even be my favorite nature photo I have ever taken! Have I mentioned I love my camera?


Southern Belle said...

First I have to say you are a very talented photographer! That last picture of the butterfly was amazing.

Sorry to hear you had a rodent infestation. I can only imagine how gross that must have been to deal with.

Tammy Warta said...

What, no picture of the rat insulation pile? ;) Soooo gross!

What is this about? said...

Wow Emily! You take BEAUTIFUL pictures!!! Love the butterfly one!

I've been following your rat story. How did Matt get up the courage to go under there?! I'm sweating just thinking about it! Husbands are a wonderful thing!

Lori said...

That last picture is gorgeous, Emily! However, I am not jealous of your rat issue. :( Hope it all works out ok for you!

The Yorks said...

blech!!!! sorry sista. wish you lived closer to us so that I could use your amazing photography talents often though!