They make their messes by strewing chewed pecan shells all over the porch.
Once they stole nuts out of a bucket that I accidentally left on the porch. Another time, they ate my figs while they were green.
Then, there have been the live-in squirrels.
Fourteen years ago, shortly after I first moved to my East Anniston house, I heard them running through the attic.
I walked around in the yard and checked the eaves of the house. Sure enough, there were a few tiny openings where one might get in.
I researched on the Internet and read that creatures hate the smell of mothballs. I bought some and threw them in the attic. The trick seemed to work, which became an annual fall activity.
That same year I discovered the openings in the house, I hired a person with a ladder to come and fill them in. I thought I had solved the squirrel problem.
Throughout the course of the years, though, the squirrels somehow became immune to the smell of mothballs. I began to hear them again.
Once more, I walked around the house to inspect the places that had been plugged. I noticed the plugs were gone and the openings were even larger.
Their edges had been gnawed, as if the squirrels were making access easier for their friends and offspring, which, of course, they probably were.
It was time for more drastic measures. I hired a siding company to cover the exposed wood on my house. The solution also solved the problem of the house needing a paint job. Last year, with the new siding in place, I heard no squirrels in the attic.
On Wednesday of last week, though, I was sitting outdoors enjoying the cool night. I heard squirrel feet running on the roof, or so I thought.
The next afternoon, while it was daylight, I heard the sounds again, only I could tell that there was no squirrel on the roof.
Once again, I bought mothballs and threw them in the eaves. I tried a new trick. I run an extension cord to the top of a ladder that I placed near the eaves where I had heard the squirrels running. I turned the volume of a sound machine up as loud as it would go, and I set the sound for foghorns – an awful sound to be featured on a sound machine that was made to help people sleep. I would have nightmares if I had to listen to foghorns as I tried to sleep.
Twice since the foghorns have been used as noise pollution, I have listened twice for the squirrels running in the attic. So far, so good.
Instead of becoming frustrated with the squirrels in my neighborhood, I respect their desire to eat pecans. My hope is that they’ll build themselves some nests in the trees like other squirrels do. Also, I hope they don’t start liking the sound of foghorns.
Email Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org.