Note: This is the fourth in a series of super-short stories about animals.
I woke my lovely wife Jen early one morning. “Do you hear that?” There was this scratching sound outside our house. She heard it too. It sounded like someone or something was trying to dig its way into our house, from the roof. I ran outside to look for where the noise was coming from, but it stopped before I could find the source.
A week later, I was coming home from a walk, and I saw a gray squirrel, gnawing on the wooden gable vent over our garage, trying to break into our house!
“Hey!” I yelled. “Hey!” It didn’t stop. I looked around; we have rocks in a landscaped area in our yard. Generally, I would not recommend throwing rocks at your house, but I grabbed a handful and started tossing them. The squirrel took off, ran along the roof’s edge, and climbed off the house.
The wood on the gable vent was partially destroyed, chewed away. I knew I’d have to fix it eventually. I put it on my to-do list.
A few months later, I heard a different noise. “Jen! Jenny! Do you hear that?” Of course she heard it. I said, “Maybe the squirrel’s back. Or the raccoon.”
Outside the house, I looked at the chewed gable vent; no squirrels were there. The noise was coming from the side of the garage. It sounded like something was running back and forth. I couldn’t pinpoint the noise. I knew what I needed to do.
“Randy!” I was pounding on my handy neighbor’s back door. Probably thinking Here we go again, he came over to my house.
He thought we should look in the crawlspace above the garage because that’s what the vent is there for. So we set up a ladder and both climbed up. The crawlspace is huge; we could convert it into an extra room, but there’s no access to it other than the cutout.
Randy spotted the problem: The squirrel had broken through the flimsy insulation sheet that was behind the vent, and animals had been coming and going freely into the crawlspace. The builder should have installed a screen behind the vent to keep animals out. (Again, should I just leave the doors wide open to let all the critters in the house?!?)
We then found the noise: A bird, who had been living in here (judging by the mess), had gotten trapped in the soffit along the crawlspace edge and was running frantically along the soffit vent. We couldn’t get to it because it squeezed into a tiny opening.
“We have two options,” Randy said. “We could let it die, or we could rip off your siding and try to take the end of the soffit off and see if it would fly out through that.”
“Well, I don’t want it to die,” I said. So we decided to tear apart my house to save the bird’s life. (And by “we,” I mean “he,” while I handed him tools. I had gotten adept at working on projects with Randy, and my home and auto repair skills improved. I was learning the names of tools, which was the most important thing. Randy would be fixing something at my house and say, “Do you have an Allen wrench?” I’d say yes, then run to the tools in my basement while Googling “what is an Allen wrench.” I’d then put back the crescent wrench I was holding and grab an Allen wrench.)
Project Freebird took about an hour. Randy got on a ladder, removed a portion of our siding covering the soffit end, and with some coaxing, this starving robin flew out the hole. Randy snapped the siding back and said that two things needed to happen: the end cap, and any openings all around our house, should be caulked or foam sealed; and the gable vent should be taken down and chicken wire should be attached to the back of it to keep squirrels and birds out.
So we took care of that. I Googled “how to caulk.” We climbed an extension ladder to remove the gable and install chicken wire to the back of it. And by “we,” I think you know who I mean.