Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Never-ending Story


No good deed goes unpunished.


Just when you thought it was safe to go up on the roof …

Rats IV!

Performing my minimum monthly requirement of house maintenance, I swept biomass from the edges of the roof. The oak tree that dominates our yard seems to shed its weight in branches and acorns and nutlets and thousands and thousands of little husky shapes (but no leaves) on the roof, where it piles up against the screens over the gutters.

The screens serve no other purpose except as a place for the biomass to bank like snowdrifts.

Unreasonably confident it will rain long and hard this winter (Go, El Niño!), I swept off the debris as the first step in clearing out the gutters. Which I'll do next week. Can't rush these things.

The roof has odd pockets where the roof planes don't quite meet. They're very hard to reach, unless you're a branch or an acorn or a nutlet, in which case there's plenty of room, make yourself at home! Unjamming these spaces requires a questionable balancing act and a certain twisty-pully motion with a broom to clear.

Which I was attempting to do when out rolled a ball of lint.

Which first rolled down the roof slope until it reversed direction and climbed the slope at great speed and over the crest and gone.

A rat.


I was so sure I had made the house rat-proof, after numerous campaigns, rat after rat after rat, and here was a speeding fur-bearing bandit to declare, um, no.

With dusk dwindling, I grabbed weapons from my garage supply of rat defenses — scraps of metal screen and steel wool — and fashioned yet another woolly guard which I stuffed into the odd roof nook with a broom handle. I wondered without success how I would fasten the out-of-reach screen to the walls beneath the roof line.

Though I got some work done yesterday, I mostly daydreamed about the rat, and hit upon a plan to fasten the screen which, of course, proved unworkable as soon as I got home to look at the problem again.

"Just reach in with your drill and some grabber screws," said the kindly, knowledgeable man at the hardware store. "You've got long arms! You've got a cordless drill, doncha?"

He sold me some grabber screws (drywall screws) and washers, and I went home, hoping my cordless drill worked. It hadn't before.

Dusk dwindling again, I endeavored to reach in with a regular old hand-powered screwdriver and a grabber screw, hoping the screw would stay on the screwdriver for the long stretch into the odd space.

Leaning in as far as I could go, I saw it — a rat, nestled dead in the gutter. I think it was dead. I'll check today.

Not the same rat. Maybe. Probably.

The little barrier of screen and steel wool remained up. The hardware store gentleman said steel wool was a good choice. Rats hate it. Maybe the rat hated it so much, it died of bitterness.

With darkness falling, I set a trap for now (I've become good at this, wearing rubber gloves so the rat wouldn't smell humans, and putting just a tiny dab of peanut butter on the snap trigger so the rat would have to work for the food) and decided to see what sunlight would bring today.

Wish me luck. Wish the rat(s) likewise.

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