Where the wild things are

Gutting a 100+ year old house is fascinating because you find all kinds of crazy and wild things. Things that have been secretly cohabitating in the walls for an unknown period of time, things people have hid or lost and forgotten about, things that live outside but want to come in, lots and lots of things. Wild things live in the walls, and outside in the middle of nowhere.

Some things are more welcome than others. We are not overly selective about who shares our space. We Yrppies both have a BS in Biology and a love of nature. However, I am definitely more of a softie then the hubby is. I do not like to kill things (except flies; I hate flies; I am a drosophila-ist).  I don’t mind spiders; I feel they are crowd control. Beetles who are led astray in the night by the light; I gently collect them and put them back outside. Snakes-the more the merrier; they eat mice and other rodents. And mice…well mice are a contentious issue because they are so darn cute and squeaky, but they tend to multiply quickly and poop a lot. This why we got a cat (actually we got a second cat because our old and sleepy cat Sammy would literally sit and watch them eat out of her bowl in the office while I worked at the desk; it reminded me of one of my favorite books from when I was little, Pettifur, I found it endearing; the hubby found it infuriating).

Pettifur, A Story by Jay Williams, image from: http://www.pagebooks.net

The hubby solved the mouse problem in our Harrisburg house by bringing home Baby Kitty. Baby Kitty is “not that little” to quote the vet tech from a few weeks ago, but she has been a ruthless killer from kittenhood. Baby Kitty is an indoor kitty; however, there apparently is already a pride of barn cats that inhabit the yard of the Yrppie homestead. Baby Kitty better not have forgotten her ninja like mousin’ skillz since she drove all of the city mice out of Harrisburg house two years ago or she could be easily replaced. The pride is already buttering me up.

Baby Kitty watch out; there is competition waiting outside

Black kitty (who looks exactly like Baby Kitty) that mat message is not for you; don’t get any ideas

Of course if the pride sees this picture she may become the laughing stock of the valley:

Baby Kitty getting her antibiotics and loving it

Mommy holds and Maggie drops-teamwork

Apologies for the boob shot; when wrangling a cat with a towel (gently) and trying to keep her still so a 4-year old can drop a pill down her throat, you do not have time to make sure your milkshakes are still in the yard. And as far as the bicycle helmet-no idea. Her bike has been locked in the shed since the fall.

We also have a whole “knot” of toads hanging out in our scrap pile. I had to google what you call a group of toads because I did “knot” know; there are other fun names for animal groupings here.


Big toad!

Proof that I need a manicure and that I need to stop biting my thumb nails.

Inside our walls we found evidence of previous existing wild things. Our favorite, one we actually have not removed yet because it is so cool; is this really old, really big wasp nest. I think it is a paper wasp nest. Most people get totally freaked out by bees and wasps. I am not saying I like to get stung, but I am pretty tolerant and don’t freak out when bees or wasps are around (we are also fortunate that none of us get an severe allergic reaction when stung).

Large paper wasp nest-it is empty and has not been used in a long time

Really beautiful part of wasp nest

I did some research and found out that wasps do not have wax-producing glands like bees; instead they usually chew dead or old wood, and even man-made wood (HA!). They use a substance developed from wood pulp and wasp saliva to construct their nests. The different colored layers are the result of wood pulp from different sources. Apparently a structure this complicated is only used for one season. Thousands of wasps work together to create a living space, and then the nest is abandoned in the winter when majority of the colony die from the cold.

I probably counted 30+ wasps nest on the walls throughout the house. None were active. Here is one of my favorite shots:

Another wasp’s nest

Wasps are not the only nests we have found. Birds also took shelter within the walls.

A big bird’s nest

This was found in the wall of the spare room. We are not sure what kind of bird roosted here, but there were lots of seeds and downy feathers. We also have a resident kestrel who lives in our eaves. The hubby was pretty excited about this and wants to build a kestrel box when we replace the roof. The kestrel’s nest was too high to get any kind of picture, but here is a Wikipedia image that shows you what a kestrel looks like; they are small, predatory birds. You often see them perching on telephone poles.

American Kestrel-image taken from Wikipedia

Critters are not the only wild things lurking in the walls of the Yrppie homestead. We also unearthed these treasures:

Whoa…wild things from the 1970’s!

Someone did not want mom to find these wild things-they were hidden in the ceiling. The hubby and I could not stop laughing. We are not sure what format they are, but they are much bigger than a VHS. We also found pictures of people, snake skins, underwear, and other odds and ends. None were quite as amusing as the adult films.

Our new walls will be filled with spray-foam insulation, so that will significantly reduce the wall space for critters to live and kiddos to hide incriminating evidence. Gutting the house definitely gave new meaning to the phrase “if these walls could talk”. Have you ever gutted a space or replaced a wall and found wild or crazy things? Have you ever hidden anything wild or crazy (that you want to share) in wall, ceiling or floor? We were really hoping to find billions of dragons but that did not happened. Looks like we cannot quit our day jobs just yet.

10 thoughts on “Where the wild things are

    • Thank you for sharing! I was thinking maybe you should start a blog about your house since you are kind of a yrppie too. Actually you are younger than me so that definitely qualifies you.

    • I love YoungHouseLove-I cannot wait until we actually have a some rooms to move into and I can start spray-painting things. I just checked out your blog and saw you are a teacher; I am too-I teach 9th grade Earth Science. I could probably practice a little more patience; sometimes it feels like we will never get moved in. Thanks for reading!

  1. Just found you from a nomination on Home on 129 acres. Too funny about those videos. We found a lot of interesting things too, renovating the house I grew up in (including a ghost to two, we were convinced).

    • Thanks for stopping by! I have actually looked at your blog before and love that you found me :). I have tried not to think about ghosts because I have been known to totally spook myself out. That being said-many generations of the hubby’s family have lived in this house, and I am sure there are stories that would keep me up at night; that is the one good thing about pets and children; they keep the house busy and loud :).

  2. Ahaha! Loved reading this post! Great sense of humor — I would have freaked out over more than half of the things you discovered in your walls (minus the porn, which is hilarious). And I love your term for spiders — “crowd control” — wholeheartedly agree. Very interesting blog! I look forward to seeing the progress of your renovations. 🙂

  3. Loved your post. The most exciting thing we found when poking into the crevases of our old house was the funny pages from about the 1930s. Great insulation. I envy your porn find. That would be a story to dine out on for years!

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