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).
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.
Of course if the pride sees this picture she may become the laughing stock of the valley:
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.
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).
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:
Wasps are not the only nests we have found. Birds also took shelter within the walls.
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.
Critters are not the only wild things lurking in the walls of the Yrppie homestead. We also unearthed these treasures:
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.