The Spring of Unsolicited Housemates, Urine Soaked Tennis Balls and Sleepless Nights

If you found this post from google when searching “how to remove raccoons from your house” and just want that, without any fanfare, scroll to the bottom.

Or if you are a visual person and don’t want to read this, go to my instagram (@bethany_jane) and watch my story highlight on the entire escapade. For some reason I can’t get it to upload correctly here.

It was a night like any other, I was snuggled up in my pregnancy pillow (if you haven’t tried a U shaped body pillow, or stolen your sister’s pregnancy pillow after she gave birth—like me, you don’t even know what good sleep is) dreaming of what my house will one day look like after renovations. Then, I heard it. I sprinted from my bed in a stupor (but since I sleepwalk I have a leg up on being able to accomplish tasks in the middle of the night) and ran to the back windows of my house, searching for someone running thru my yard and over the tarp covered frozen ground.

My neighborhood has had break-ins in the past so I was sure I heard a human. Last fall I tarped my yard in hopes of killing everything and being able to start over, so this winter it was a slick sheet under crunchy snow. The sounds were so loud and disconcerting, but I never saw anything. But it kept happening, only at night, near the back of my house.

One night I ran into my bathroom and with horror realized the noise was IN it. I strained my ear against each wall and started debating which friend I could convince to go into my attic and possibly come face to face with whatever creature stays awake all night (and instantly I thought of my favorite This American Life episode Squirrel Cop). A friend came and checked the exterior of my house and inside my attic but couldn’t see anything. But the noise continued.

It continued for months…almost three months to be exact.

Partway thru I realized that the sound was inside my chimney. My house has two that were bricked over years ago and have no inside access. Once I realized there was a layer of brick between me and them, it was bearable. But then I realized there were babies in there and they started getting real chatting. It was pretty obvious early on that this was a family of raccoons.

I did my share of googling. It seemed like a consensus that if raccoons are in your chimney, and they can’t get into your house, to let them be and when the babies are big enough they will move out on their own. Some pest companies can’t get the babies out so it is the easiest option. But then somewhere I read that they don’t like constant noise and you can sometimes annoy them out…

I went to LA for the weekend and butted a radio up to the chimney before I left. I was sure to leave it on the worst AM talk radio station I could find.

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When I got back I dropped by bags and ran into my downstairs bathroom to pee. I had my pants halfway down, when suddenly I whirled around and screamed, “what the hell is that noise?!” It only took me a second to realize that the radio had totally worked but to my chagrin the mom had moved the babies from my chimney and relocated them between my wall and bathtub by going into my crawl space. This was 1000% worst…

I tried putting the radio in the bathtub on full blast.

I tried turning on the shower.

I tried yelling at them to leave.

But they stayed. And not only did they stay, the did somersaults and tried to break-thru the wall, pushing small bits of material under my baseboards with their terrifyingly dexterous little hands. The noise died down a little and since it was after business hours, I thought I could last until the next morning to call a pest control company, so after showering on top of a family of raccoons, I went to bed—but not before making a oneway door on their entrance and setting up my security camera outside…

A few hours later, thru the drone of talk radio playing in my bathroom, I heard them from the second story of my house. I heard their cries, their somersaults and their little hands ripping at my tub jets. I ran downstairs and in total dismay, sat on the closed toilet debating what to do. I tried everything I could think of, and finally I resorted to Marco Poling my sister on the east coast who I knew would be awake. At one point she said, “what are you going to do if they break thru? What exactly is your plan?” All I could reply was, “well I have a plunger I stick over the hole they make until I think of a better plan…”

After three hours of sitting on my toilet and debating my exit strategy if they came face to face with me in the bathroom, I glanced to my right and saw a beacon in the night, a half full can of Fabreeze. At this point I was halfway delusional but thought, if they hate extreme things, they will surely hate intense smells. I shoved the nozzle into the cracks of the tub (first time I have ever been stoked at the shoddy craftsmanship of something in my house) and pulled the trigger. As I sprayed a steady stream of fabric softener like scent into their faces I started to hear them squirm. Soon, I could hear them scurrying away from the tub. One stayed behind, crying probably because it’s siblings all left. Then suddenly the mom came back, grabbed the baby—who let out the most bloodcurdling scream—and dragged them under the tub to the others.

Sweet Victory!

(if I had a dollar for every time someone requested the video on the left, I could pay for the stupid pest control company. That means watch it—with the sound up—if you haven’t before)

My house was silent and I could grab a couple hours of sleep before work. I grabbed blanket and laid down on my couch, keeping one ear up to check on movement below my floor. I never heard a sound. My camera’s motion detectors never went off.

When I told my boss that I would have to leave in the middle of the day to meet a pest control company at my house, either the video she watched of me at 4 in the morning or my bloodshot eyes made conveyed that my sanity depended on this work absence.

I met the pest man at my house who explained to me that the best method for coaxing a female out with her babies is to throw, wait for it, male urine soaked tennis balls into my crawl space. You throw them in so they bounce all over spreading the delightful scent. Then the female gets nervous that the “male” will come kill the babies so she will vacate with the young. And guess what, this service is only $349! What a steal. Literally, a steal, as my friend quickly pointed out. But at this point, I didn’t care, I needed peace of mind a bathtub in once piece. (for the record, I am not easily swindled on every front, he wanted $95 to cover the 5x7 hole they were entering thru and $150 to put a piece of plywood on my chimney, I declined both of those highway robbery items…)

Once the balls were gingerly tossed to and fro he put many a classy piece of duct tape over the entrance, his way of knowing if the mom had come out (somehow my camera aimed at the hole wasn’t good enough…).

Days pasted.

No movement. No breaking thru the duct tape. No motion on the camera. No sounds.

Those bastards somehow moved out BEFORE I spent a small fortune on tennis balls. I have no idea how, my camera was always armed and I could hear them using the door I made. No now has any answers for this. The property has been checked multiple times for other entrances, there are none.

They won yet again.

On the plus side, I now how a bunch of tennis balls mixed in with the already plentiful amount of debris in my crawl space, every homeowners dream.

And if you came to this post to find out how to remove raccoons from your house, here is what you need to know:

  1. They do not like noise, constant bad talk radio WILL make them want to relocate.

  2. They do not like intense smells, such as Fabreeze, a partial bottle of airfreshner will suffice nicely—if you have direct access to where they are nesting.

  3. One way doors are for dummer animals

  4. Pest Control companies charge WAY too much and if they aren’t actually trapping (and then killing) the raccoons, they are basically useless because…

  5. …you can buy your own raccoon male urine AND tennis balls to douse on Amazon.

And if you use one of these methods and it works for you (or you laughed at my videos and realized I could have spent that money on something cool like the countertop I am about to buy), feel free to Venmo me (@Bethany-Davis-1) a few bucks for the HUNDREDS i just saved you by not calling pest control. You are welcome.

Oh and in case you were wondering, my brother in law covered the access to my crawl space, and yes, for free. I shall give him $95 worth of favors next time I stay at his house.

My House

My house.

For the first time in my life I get to use that term, my house, MY HOUSE. Buying a house is not for everyone, but for me this was something that I have wanted for a long time. When I was 16 I moved out and ever since then I wanted a place that was mine. I went to college with things like a sewing machine, Kitchen Aid mixer, and Williams and Sonoma gadgets because that is what I liked to save up for as a teenager. I longed to have a house and slowly accumulated all the things for it, knowing it would eventually work (Levi would interject here that this was SUPER annoying since many of these "things" ended up in our office. On the plus side, our office was very homey!). Between what I had stored in our office and had in my current rental, I had enough furniture to completely furnish my 3 bedroom house (actually perhaps too much, I have this thing for chairs, it drives Levi nuts but I can't seem to stop!). I have no idea what it is like to buy furniture because you need it, like a good pair of shoes, it finds me at the randomness of times. 

The house buying process was the worst thing I have ever gone thru. The seller was, pardon my french, bat-shit crazy. I never met her, but from what I gathered she was in her mid thirties, worked a lot, had three HUGE dogs, didn't care about cleaning, "fixed" things the most ineffective way possible every time, loved the color green, and is one of the most difficult people to deal with. To put things into perspective, here is a timeline of events:

11/2 saw the house, put in offer (with 24 hours to accept)

11/13 got a contact to sign for the first time

11/14-12/4 I signed THREE addendums to the contract

01/10/18 Finally closed

Normally you know if your offer is accepted and you draw up a contract within a matter of days and close within 30. We closed over two months later! She changed the close date three times, wanted to rent from me then changed the date so she wouldn't have to pay me, drew up addendum after addendum to take things from the property like the dishwasher and chandelier, would take days--if not weeks--to get back to us about a simple question, and overall just took me for everything she could. It is a sellers market so every time I had a question or wanted something they would come back with "we have 4 other offers, take it or leave it." 

The seller also had a horrible winter. Right before she listed the house her fiance died in a tragic accident. But, she didn't tell her realtor and had him list it way before she needed to leave. I felt so bad for her, we gave her so much space and I requested that the realtors don't push her too much. But then she was horrible to deal with and it made me feel guilty that I was frustrated with this person who was going thru so much. I broke after she removed the chandelier at the last minute and refused to put up a light and left the house DISGUSTING. I also feel a little bad that the only reason I got the house is because I offered over asking and was first, the realtor was happy with our offer and went with us first because he didn't want to overwhelm the seller with a bidding war. The house had something like 5 offers the first weekend on the market.

Now on to the better parts. Here is the green beauty that was built in 1906. (the photos are from today, exactly six months since moving in).

To understand where I stared, here are some images from the listing before I bought it:

And here are my grand plans:

Also, here's my disclaimer--I am currently storing NOTHING in closets or the garage, so basically everything is out and as one of my friends said when they came over, "are you sure you aren't a hoarder?" I might be borderline, but once I have closets you won't even know!

Laundry Room:

This room is the first project out of sheer necessity. Because of the damage to the wall behind the washer I opted to re-do this before I hooked mine up. The plan was to rip out the plaster and then run electrical that made sense, replace the windows and door (that thing was GNARLY), add insulation, add sheetrock, paint, and cabinetry. 

However,

when I started ripping out the plaster we quickly realized that NOTHING was done right. There were no exterior walls (we assume they slapped siding on a porch), no headed to hold up the roof, no real doorframe, electrical didn't make sense, no insulation (which makes the laundry pipes prone to freezing), you name it and it was wrong. Now the plan is to: re-do the entire thing except the roof and floor. Praise having a cousin who let me hire him to do the work.

Once the construction is done I will paint, match the window molding and baseboard from the living room, and have custom cabnits made for the back wall (with counter) and then above the washer/dryer.

Kitchen:

This was quickly done to sell the house, it is the cheapest material and doesn't utilize the space. I want take down all the upper cabinets, center the sink between the windows, extend the windows to countertop height (they are there, they boarded the bottom up), ditch the range for a cooktop and double oven, finish the floors, close off the bathroom and do a huge wall of cabinetry with a double oven and small counter. So far all I have done is remove one chunk of counter to put my fridge in a normal place.

Dining Room/Entry:

New windows, new window frames (to match dining room), replace the poorly done chair-rail with something better, paint (done!), new front door.

Living Room:

New windows, paint (already done!), repair plaster damage under windows, figure out which of my travel photos to frame around my sweet custom wood map (made by Gray Skunk).

Downstairs Bedroom:

Remove carpet, replace window, get custom door for the rounded doorway, rip out closet and build a new one where the long wooden table is (this will have cabenit storage above and then a normal clothes closet with linen closet on one side).

Downstairs Bathroom:

This bathroom was such a poor design. They built a HUGE wall to encase a jetted tub (that isn't grounded none-the-less) that makes the room feel so small and blocks the window. I want to take out the wall/tub, close off the door to the kitchen, replace the vanity with a counter that is the full length of the wall, get a free-standing tub and do a lot of tite work.

Inspiration:

 

Stairs:

Remove carpet, re-do scary closet.

Upstairs Bedroom:

Extend the room into the attic space, replace the plaster with sheetrock, make a closet in the back, add a main light. And yes, right now, this prison cell size room is just storage...

Upstairs Bathroom:

Straighten the wall out so I can have a pocket door, move all the fixtures, add a shower. Basically everything. 

Landing:

This is one of my favorite projects but will cost a lot so it will be later. I want to remove the gross closet and carpet and then extend the room out into the attic and create a dormer. This would make it a fairly large space, let in sunlight and make it possible to move the bathroom door. I want to make this a library/sitting area with built in bookshelves (with a ladder, thats a must and dream!) and an amazing window seat.

Master Bedroom:

ADD CLOSETS! This room has one very tiny closet that you have to almost crawl into (kicker at the bottom that makes it super weird). I want to wall off the current closet and then add closets on both sides of the room in the unused attic space. Then remove the plaster, redo the electrical, add an overhead light/ceiling fan, add insulation and sheetrock and get more than one outlet. And yes, I am not oblivious to the fact that I have way too many clothes. When you are single you get to do whatever you want, that's the perk, right? So yeah, one day if I find someone who wants one of my custom closets, I suppose I can address the issue and get rid of a thing or two...or 50. 

Also, I feel like I should say that all my "window coverings" are just quick fixes, I need to do all of those too... (I feel like I mostly have to say that since I can't believe I have a chevron print in my house...that needs to go sooner than later!)

Exterior:

Well that's a whole other post! I have started some of the yard work, but it will take a long time to get things to the point where I can do fun things and not just tame what is already there.

The garage needs a lot of tender love and care, it is basically a large shed. I will add exterior lights/outlets for the patio area when I redo the laundry room and eventually I need to do something with the back yard, right now it is a shit show (literally, there is so much dog poop smashed into the ground made all nice from the heavy snow).

These projects are my dreams for the house but I am sure they will evolve as I live there and change based on the costs. I don't have a timeline so we will have to see how far my money and credit card rewards (I cash out for Home Depot gift cards at every chance I can get haha) can get me! And if you are ever in the area and feel like you need a project, by all means, stop on by.