I Called The Bug Babe, But She Laughed
Saturday, June 30th, 2012
By Al Gray
Most homebuyers know to require a home inspection, including a termite report. Well, you need to know there are lots of pests that many folks just don’t think about when they sign a real estate contract and close on a house. Another thing is that there are critters that the pest control firms shy away from. Ask the Bug Babe of Augusta’s Advanced Services. Some things make her laugh.
Your tale teller’s house is in Lincoln County, Georgia, situated on 38 acres on the southern end of the county near Clarks Hill Lake. It was purchased at a very reasonable price from a guy who had been transferred to his employer’s Atlanta office. (How’s that for a change in lifestyle!) This previous owner, Tim Rambleton, owned horses and had constructed a 20×20 pole barn to hold his “stuff.” That shed had little value. The poles were not plumb and were misaligned. That might have been surmountable, but the roof was skewed. The lumber was infested with carpenter bees, that look like this:
The worst thing was the floor. Tim had laid out a series of wooden pallets and nailed sheets of particleboard over them. This left a space about four inches high under the floor. The immediate thought was, “What a great snake den!” As it turned out, that could not have been more wrong!
Although the house was only three years old, it was considered a “fixer-upper.” The mud room was just that – covered with Georgia red clay. There were no exhaust fans in the bathrooms. The ceiling fans made all sorts of racket. The deck was 12 feet square. Their dog had gnawed on the outside office door. It took a lot of work. Oh, one last thing is that there was no garage door.
Shortly after moving day, during the winter of 1998, conical holes in clusters came to be noticed in the yard. The clusters grew in number and size. Some sort of critter was tearing up the yard! “What” was a mystery. Then one night, your story teller awakened around 2 AM and decided to cut on the lights to see what was out there. The floodlights glaring, the mystery was solved. There were several skunks out there digging.
A call went out to the Department of Natural Resources to inquire as to what could be done with nuisance skunks. The game warden said, “Trap them in a WIRE trap!” Seriously. Mama raised no fool, and there was absolutely no way this guy was gonna move a wire trap with a skunk in it. The man just as well should have said, “Catch them in a fish net.”
Lethal measures were the only resort. Five of them were shot. Some sprayed. When they did that, the smell lingered for the better part of a week. With others, lucky shots resulted in no noxious mist rising from the corpses. None of them made it back to their warren – it turned out to be the space under the pole barn’s rickety flooring.
The clusters of burrowing holes grew smaller. The skunk infestation looked to be over. Then came the night the skunks turned the tables … almost.
A very long day of bowhunting for deer sent this house dweller into a very deep sleep, before a need to visit the bathroom created a stumbling, closed-eyed ramble to the window and backyard light switch. Sure enough, there was a very large, classically marked up skunk. He looked like this:
Aching bones and tired muscles shouted, “Let him go, give him a reprieve, he will leave!” Before returning to the warm comfortable bed, a second thought occurred. The late return from the hunt had meant that a needed high powered rechargeable spotlight was face down at the garage entrance. It needed recharging for the next day’s hunt. To the right of the door into the house, the Cub Cadet lawn tractor was parked between the step and the corner of the garage. Having once spotted skunk droppings inside the garage produced a sense of caution, but that light had to be retrieved for charging.
Your white maned, sort-of-fat author was dressed only in his boxer shorts.
Emerging onto the top step, the tractor was carefully examined – except for under the mower deck. Seeing no black and white threat, I decided to go for the spotlight on the floor. No sooner than hand grasped the handle, a rustling sound was heard – from the stairsteps! There stood the black and white skunk seen earlier at the threshold, sniffing to see if he wanted to go in! Picture what came next, this – a mostly naked, fat, white haired man making a seemingly impossible leap OVER the skunk, through the door, and slamming the door in that skunk’s face.
The skunk held his fire, sparing the mud room and homeowner from a really, really bad top coating.
All thoughts of skunk reprieves vanquished, a shotgun was quickly accessed to accompany the spotlight. The door was opened. No skunk. Warily, the garage was being explored when that skunk bolted for the woods. The first shot missed. The skunk was 15 feet from safety when the second blast took it out.
The skunk shot was a black skunk with white bangs … Mrs. Skunk. WHERE WAS MR. PERFECT SKUNK?
He had to be in the garage. Sure enough, he was there – under the hood of my new pickup truck! One could hear him rustling around on top of the engine! Worst of all, skunks are nocturnal. It would be light in about 45 minutes. What if that skunk was still in there at daylight?
There was nothing to do but go back to bed. The morning hunt requiring travel would have had to be scratched in favor of a hunt on the grounds. A nice fat doe fell to the bow and arrow, giving even more time for the black and white scent emitter to escape.
The examination of the truck and ginger lifting of the hood arrived with a trepidation like that of inspecting for a car bomb. With crossed fingers, the engine was started, all the while the truck owner, mindful of his cousin starting up an engine with a cat entangled in it, was expecting a fog of ruin to overwhelm the new-truck smell.
The skunk was gone.
Monday, instead of the bow shop getting a sale of the latest Matthews bow, the garage door company got a contract to install a remote controlled garage door, as soon as possible.
The skunks never came back. One of them had been living under the steps inside the garage. Everyone coming and going had walked over his den.
Getting “skunked” nearly took on new meaning.
The lawn recovered and was fine. Then the conical holes started multiplying again. It was the:
That is another story.***