It just doesn’t seem possible to me, at least at the moment, to relate the latest disconcerting and aggravating episode of life’s trials put upon me in any sort of condensed version. So I must bear the toil of ascribing this latest trial to you in some detail as it winds its seemingly never ending path while you, should you even dare, must tag along and endure what will surely seem to be a journalistic maze.
It would seem critters of all sorts, sizes and family origins have perhaps been bewitched by the wicked Mother Nature of the East and set upon me to taunt, harass and just in general make life here in the neighborhood dark and miserable. It seems to have all begun summer before last….
Perhaps you’ll might remember the persistent male Cardinal that spent the summer fighting the other male Cardinal he was seeing in my side view car mirror and making a mess of both my mirror and my car door (no pun intended). Well if you forgot note click on the photo just to the left or you can refresh your memory with all the gory details ‘here’.
I eventually resolved that critter crisis when this past September, unbeknownst to me, I was about to be besieged by yet more bewitched critters. It all started innocently enough with my clothes dryer. I went to dry some washed clothes one morning and when I turned on my dryer I heard quite a disconcerting rattling sound coming from the vicinity of my dryers vent hose. The sound only lasted for a couple of seconds and then everything sounded fine. Next time I did a wash and it was time to dry the clothes, same thing, a brief rattling sound coming from the dryer then everything was fine.
Well, if you’re like me disconcerting sounds from a clothes dryer tend to send up all sorts of red flags, the most serious of course is perhaps the potential fire danger from a malfunctioning dryer. So I finally called an appliance repair company who came out and after a brief examination could not find an issue but noted several acorns on my patio around the dryer vent and suggested that it might be some small critter using my vent hose as a place to hide his acorn stash and each time I turned on my dryer it would blow them out of the vent and on to my patio.
My dryer vent seemed too small for a squirrel to enter so I assumed it must be some sort of mouse or small rat. Then only a couple of nights later I had gotten up out of bed in the middle of the night to go tinkle and while standing there heard what sounded like gnawing just below where I was standing under the floor. That was very upsetting to me because I am almost fanatical about insuring that nothing can get inside my home’s crawl space from the outside. If the sound was indeed emanating from under the house whatever it was would have surely had to burrow from outside and then under the house foundation to get under the house.
Next morning after getting up I went outside and inspected the outside of the house near where I had heard the gnawing that night but saw no evidence at all of any burrowing or possible access for a critter to get under the house. But it is fall and there are lots of leaves everywhere, perhaps I could miss something. At any rate I broke out my stash of small mouse traps. That first day I set my first one on the patio along the side of the house near the opening to the dryer vent. Next morning, Walla….
Just to be sure there wasn’t more than one of those critters I set the mouse trap again but set this one on the other end of my patio near wear I had heard the gnawing and next morning, Walla….
After that second night I tallied up the score and I saw it as, Alan-2/Mice-0! And it is certainly worth noting that those results were confirmed as final. Just in case, I set a mouse trap under the house for a few days and caught nothing. Also there were no more rattling noises emanating from the dryer and that has remained so to date. So, problem resolved right? Wrong….
It was just like any other partially warm, sunny December day as I got in my car to head out for my weekly grocery shopping. As I was backing out of the drive I hit my windshield washer lever just to clean off my windshield a bit. “Uh oh, nothing but a whirring sound and no fluid coming out onto the windows. Well crap!” I thought to myself, “I’m out of washer fluid.” But that was okay because I knew I actually had a gallon or so in my storage room so I would just have to remember to refill the reservoir in the next day or two.
And so it was a few days later that I went out to take care of that little chore. After struggling to get the hood open on my Chrysler and getting one of those lovely blood spots I posted about a few days ago, I finally got the hood open. It was at that very moments that complete shock ensued when I got a look at what was under my hood. Every little crick and cranny under that hood had acorn shells piled in them, including bunches of them on top of the engine itself.
When I saw them in the little indentations and cubby holes on and around the engine it was a bit alarming. Fortunately my driving normally consists of little jaunts here or little jaunts there, but if I had driven the car long enough to really heat up that engine I’m not sure those things might not have caught fire. They looked like fresh kindling lying around everywhere but of course those literally on the engine themselves being the most disconcerting.
I inspected the compartment as best I could quite honestly expecting to find wires or hoses having been gnawed on or damaged. Fortunately there was no visible evidence of damage or of any sort of nest building, just tons of acorn shells. Oddly enough, there were no whole acorns at all, just bits and pieces of shells and the accompanying photographs will bear out.
So I got out my leaf blower and blew all the acorn remnants out from under my hood and when I finished things looked pretty normal to me. So I put up my leaf blower, closed the hood and got into the car to test the windshield washer just to make sure it was working again. Bad news! It still wasn’t working. I could hear the pump running but now washer coming out of the window sprayers.
As you can imagine I wasn’t happy about that outcome but I was happy about finding out about my acorn hoarders thus averting which may have caused a serious engine fire at some point. So for the moment that in itself might have been better in the short term that repairing the windshield washer.
But now my attention turned to my favorite little car, my Geo Metro which is parked right next to my Chrysler. I thought that surely it had also fallen victim to the critter hoarders. As expected, opening the hood on the Geo did in fact reveal the deeds of their apparent numerous visits. Yet more acorn shells tucked here and there once again in every crick and cranny. When I found this mess under the hood of my Chrysler I failed to get any photographs of the deed but that wasn’t the case this time. Below are photos of the Geo engine compartment and as usual, be sure to click on image to enlarge….
My detective work to date has not produced any real satisfying results as to the origin of the acorn shells. In trying to decide whether it was squirrels or rats I thought the ‘poop’ configuration might give me a solid clue. Well as luck would have it, the poop configuration for rats and squirrels is all but identical. And it is quite evident in the above photographs since there are definite ‘poop’ samples available for viewing.
As far as how my windshield washer malfunction plays into all this, well I went to my local auto repair station shortly thereafter and after opening my hood and searching out the washer hose path the service technician almost immediately found a small severed washer hose. He trimmed the two severed ends, slipped on a small length of shrink-tubing and I was back in business. And…. it only cost me $10.
So… obviously I will have to remain vigilant and be on the lookout for any further developments regarding this matter. I could put some hope in the possibility that the two rats/mice that I did send to their demise just might be the culprits behind this deed as well, time will tell I suppose. 🙁