Our old farmhouse is in a constant state of repairs. For the numerous years we have lived here, we have undertaken countless maintenance projects to keep the old thing standing. The projects are planned based on need, weather and how much money we managed to set aside.
One of the projects that has continuously been put on hold is the siding. We finished one side of the house entirely (the side that the snow and rain generally hits), but the other sides are in various stages of completion.
Once, the money set aside for the project had to be taken to repair the roof when ice and snow tore through some of the old tin. Another time, a wiring emergency took precedence. And yet another, my husband avoided working on it by breaking his knee and being unable to climb a ladder. Sheesh!
Because of these things, there is a spot on both my front and side porches where birds can get into the walls. They cannot penetrate the house, but they feel it is a safe and secluded place to build nests and raise their young.
I attempt to shoo them away when I first notice the nest building. But short of standing there all day for the entire spring and summer season, there is little I can do to deter them. Once the eggs are laid, I haven’t the heart to pluck the nests from the walls. (Though, once the little hatchlings start squawking at all hours of day and night, my heart hardens a little.)
This year, I finally had it. The mess these birds left on my porch was more than I could bear. So, I vowed that, as soon as the babies had flown the coop, I would find a way to prevent the second set that often appears.
That day arrived last week. One morning, I didn’t hear them crying for food and flapping around inside the wall anymore. So, I grabbed a hammer, some nails and a ladder, and dragged them all to the porch. Then I grabbed a 1x6 board and climbed up there.
That part went well. In no time, I closed the bird’s access to my wall. Feeling quite pleased, I climbed back down and looked at my handiwork. When I went to move the ladder – all of 30 seconds later – I had already forgotten that my hammer was resting on it.
I never saw it coming, but I felt it. The hammer fell off the ladder and hit me right in the top of the head. Stunned, I sat down immediately. An intense pain spread across my scalp, and I literally saw stars. I felt like the old cartoon character who gets hit with the mallet and the lump immediately forms.
My husband checked me over and said there was only a small cut, which barely bled, and I was sure to be fine. Just to be sure, I did a simple math problem. One board plus three nails, plus one lump equals no birds.
Yep, I was going to be OK.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.