Ward 5, Northeast, Washington D.C.
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Mouse proofing behind the fridge and oven
Warning: this post involves mouse feces. Proceed with caution.
After our recent mouse and rat issues we took a peak around the kitchen in those hard to reach spots to find out who might be lurking in the shadows. We weren’t all that surprised to find some massive holes behind the oven, refrigerator and underneath the sink. Some of the holes were big. Big enough for a small person’s hand to fit through.
This is behind the fridge where its always warm and dark. Perfectly located in a quiet little corner of the kitchen.
Close up of a mouse hole behind the fridge.
Some more holes found behind the oven.
Hole in the drywall
Another huge hole in the wall. You can see the wood stud.
Before foaming all cracks we went in with a wet vac, rubber gloves, surface cleaner and bleach to clean up all the piss, feces, dust balls, broken glass and all that other gross stuff. Protip #1: If you’re using a wet vac in this type of situation I highly recommend using eye protection and a breathing mask (or bandana), because you won’t want this shit flying in your eyes or lungs.
Here are the after pics.
All cleanup behind fridge!
All clean behind the oven!
Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures after foaming the cracks, but Dow Chemicals is not joking when the refer to it as “Great Stuff”. The can comes with a stuff straw that can be inserted deep into the hole for maximum coverage. When you are using it I suggest applying slowly and carefully because the foam expands quite a bit.
Protip #2: Do not wait more than 15 minutes between sprays. If you do the foam inside the straw will harden and clog. The best practice is to plan out all the places to cover before starting. After we handled these holes we did more underneath a radiator, inside a closet, along some baseboards, in between some bricks on the outside of the house, in the basement around some pipes and a few more places too. And after all that there was still a more juice left in the can.
Removing the basement sub-floor, finding termites
After some flooding in the basement we decided to have some work done. This has lead to a bit of a waterfall effect…
- We decided to get a sump-pump (house didn’t come with one)
- This lead to new floor tiling
- This lead to ripping up the sub-floor
- This lead to discovering termites
- This lead to termite inspection
- This lead to discovering damaged wood
- This lead to calling up some carpenters…
That’s where we are right now. As you can see it’s become a bit of a disaster. Below are pictures of us ripping up the sub-floor and discovering our little friends underneath. Yes, they look like maggots, but those are actually termites.
Recommended: Jack Whitfield’s Tree Trimming & Removing Service
Tree Trimming & Removing Service
This summer we had a tree removed from our Brookland Backyard: it was taller than a lamppost and had branches tangled into the electrical, phone and cable lines. It was also dropping enough leaves and flower petals to cover our car in less than two days and clog the sewage drain during heavy rain (causing floods in the basement, but that’s another story). After a few quotes we decided to go with Jack Whitfield of Jack Whitfield’s Tree Trimming & Removing Service. His $250 fee was far cheaper than the others.
He arrived for the job with four other people and had the tree down, chopped up and hauled off in less than 20 minutes. That morning our tree was just a warm up: he said that next up they were headed to a $10000 job.
So if you’re in the DC/VA/MD area and need trees taken down, I highly recommend Jack Whitfield’s Tree Trimming & Removing Service. His business number is 703-781-8440. I also have his home and cell phone number, but would rather not post those here. If you’d like them please contact me directly.
(There is no evidence of Jack’s business online (no web page or yelp reviews) because all his business comes from word of mouth referrals)
Rats: Part 4 (and mice)
Based on my “research”, I believe we could be upping our kill numbers if it weren’t for my pesky human smell. It seems they are unlikely to go near a human smelling trap until it has sat untouched for awhile. Presumably this gives the smell time to fade away establishing the trap as a normal part of the environment. I’m not really sure how to get around that unless I use gloves when handling the trap.
Below are the results of our most recent conquest which was caught scurrying inside a pantry. We first realized mice were getting in there when I notice several packs of ramen had the plastic chewed through and there were little droppings scattered all around.
Lo-fi solicitation for lawn work that was crumpled up and stuffed into the mailbox. If you need help call Renault.
August Garden Update
It’s been three months since our original garden post and summer is in full swing, so we wanted to give an update on the butternut squash and other veggies we’ve been growing.
We created a makeshift trellis and the butternut squash has been growing straight up.
Small butternut squash
Here you can see one of the summer squash.
We also planted Tomatillos seeds which shot out of the ground and is almost ready to bare fruit.
DIY Storage Crate Chairs
Our very simple DIY solution to create more storage and more places to sit (ideally for children). All you’ll need is a crate, some plywood, some pretty fabric, a staple gun and a glue gun.
1. Simple crate from Target
2. Inexpensive memory form from Amazon. Measured and cut.
4. All done!
5. Final product
6. Final product
Rats: Part 2
Warning: this post contains dead rat images.
Its been awhile since we’ve posted and its now time for an update on the rat situation.
The Rat Zapper arrived soon after our previous post and we were very excited to get it outside and start killing rats as soon as possible. Unfortunately there were some issues with this. Rats are intelligent creatures so in order for any trap to work it needs to be in their vicinity for a while. This lets them get used to it before going near and investigating. The second issue is that the Rat Zapper requires batteries (four D) and is not waterproof. The combination of this and a couple weeks of rain meant that we couldn’t leave the trap outside overnight very often.
After a couple weeks the rain cleared up. On the fourth or fifth night we woke up to a red blinking light on top of the trap which indicated that something had been killed. It felt like Christmas day!
We ran outside and found this little rat bastard laying in the trap.
Here he is laying in the bag we disposed of him in. That little cracker thing is the dog food we used as bait. The ants had accumulated over several days because of the dog food (not the dead rat).
So that sums up our initial Rat Zapper kill. More rat updates to come, but thus far…
Rats: Part 1
I was leaving the house about two months ago, when I saw a small creature scurrying from beneath the stairs, under the fence and into a pile of wood in the neighbors’ yard. It had a long, thin tail like a dirty brown shoelace. It was a rat.
Later that day we found a suspicious hole underneath the stairs. The hard plastic drain cover had been chewed through and there were signature turd nuggets laying around.
So we filled the hole, replaced the drain cover, cut back the weeds and laid down poison. Exactly two days passed and we noticed a heavy stench in the house which was coming from an electrical outlet on the kitchen counter. Yes, something had died inside the wall right next to where we prepare food. Needless to say this was stressful.
Once again we cleaned. Behind appliances, inside cabinets and closets. There was no evidence to suggest they had entered our actual living space and after several days the stench vanished. Weeks passed without smells or turds and we thought this dark episode was over until one night recently when I was peering out the window into the backyard. I witnessed two very large rats (call them Mrs Brisby and Nicodemus), running up and down the alley, in and out of shadows, under the neighbor’s car, etc.
I realized laying down poison and hoping the problem would take care of itself was far too passive so I sat down and purchased the most intense rat trap I could find. Its like the thing from Ghostbusters but without an electrical cord.
It should arrive in a couple days and I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. In the coming weeks I will update with our progress. Stay tuned, it will be a learning experience!
Friends of the Woodridge Library Sale
This weekend we scored a ton of books and LPs from the Friends of the Woodridge Library book sale for very cheap. They are sure to have more sales in the future so its definitely worth checking out. More importantly, all proceeds benefit the library.
Above is The Handbook of Applied Mathematics and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Below are some other things we picked up. Of course the most prized treasure was the Slim Goodbody LP.
Bunch of children’s books
Slim Goodbody’s Musical Guide to What’s Inside
Words can’t describe.
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Vegetarian Sun-dried Tomato Mushroom Pasta
Something we put together based off a couple different recipes and the wife’s kitchen creativity.
- 1 (8 ounce) package of fettuccine
- 4 tablespoons butter (margarine)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 (8 ounce) package of sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 2/3 (8 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Cook pasta in boiling water until done. Drain.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Sauté mushrooms and garlic until tender. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by a third, about 4 minutes.
- Toss pasta with sauce. add pepper to taste, and serve.
Rain Barrel from the RiverSmart Homes Program
Any homeowner can apply for the program here and once you’re on the list someone from RiverSmart will visit your house to assess what you qualify for (rain barrels, shade trees, pervious pavers, etc).
Afterwards there is a bit of a wait, but eventually they’ll get to you. Unfortunately we had to wait 8 months and brave a few heavy downpours that leaked water into the basement. At one point I considered building a rain barrel system myself. This dude has a nice tutorial on doing it super cheap, but if you’d like something a bit prettier I’d suggest either the Algreen Cascata 65-Gallon or the Fiskars Salsa 58-Gallon system.