I bought a new house in July, 2001. The new place was really great, with lots of cool kitchen cabinets, a great big living room, very nice wallpaper, with a nice guest bedroom and office. A big bonus was the insulated and sheet-rocked garage ceiling that meant the garage was going to be warm in the winter!
We moved in July with lots of help from family and friends and proceeded to settle into our new house. The first night was relaxing, after having spent the entire day moving in it was nice to lay in bed and relax. We let the rain lull us to sleep under our new roof.... Until we got up the next morning and went downstairs to find the entire basement flooded with about 1/8 inch of standing water! Most of our stuff was OK, because we removed it from the basement in time, but how did that water get in there in the first place?
So the next couple of days I spent looking for, finding, and filling in a large trench I found next to the side of the house. Water problem solved! This homeowner stuff can't be as bad as everybody says... Funny thing though, about a week later we were showing the house to a friend late one night and noticed a possum crawling around in the rafters behind the garage... Startled, I started thinking... What if the possums dug a trench to get into the basement and the water then flowed through that trench into the basement causing the flooding? Things were starting to make sense. Uh oh! How did this particular possum get in the house? Ed remembered he filled the trenches real good a couple of days before. With concrete. So that nothing would get in there again.
The next day, I called Varmint Busters, our local trapping and varmint relocation service. Their technician came out and put a trap inside the house, baited with sardines and peanut butter... We've got him now, I thought, as we set the trap in the trusses of the garage ceiling. The next morning, I went downstairs, eager to see the trapped possum... But no possum! Another day and night and still, no possum... What's going on? Surely I did see a possum in the garage the other day? After waiting a few more days, no possums showed up in the trap... Hmmm... Maybe they were just playing possum, or maybe...
I received a call from the owner of the company who said that maybe he should come out and have a look around. He was concerned at the lack of response from the traps the technician had set out a couple of days before, so he wanted to look for himself. He did and found another large trench leading to the basement on the other side of the house. Ed breathed a huge sigh of relief and we proceeded to bait another trap and put it outside the newly discovered trench. Bingo! The next morning we had a huge possum in the trap! So we kept the original trap inside the house, marked the newfound hole, and waited a couple of days for evidence of more activity. After seeing no signs that possums were coming or going, Ed filled in the hole again. Real good this time. With concrete.
At this point, we were feeling good. Proud of our new home, we had managed to prevent major catastrophe, did almost all of the work ourselves, saved a bunch of money, and were starting to get settled in...
I was in the kitchen late the next Friday night, about 1:00 in the morning, getting something to drink when I noticed a hissing sound... "Ssss Ssss" "Ssss Ssss"... As I started to investigate, I was led to the air conditioner duct and downstairs to the heat pump. I took the bottom lid off the heat pump and found a tiny little possum running around in the bottom of the heat pump, below the heat exchanger coils. Working quickly, I managed to subdue the little guy sufficiently so I could get him out. I went to bed wondering how he got in there... And if he was a little guy, his parents surely must be close by...
Well, things started to return to normal. We went about the daily routines, getting settled in to the new house. The previous owner had had a couple of cats that were free to roam around the yard and house. She had kept the litter box near the stairs leading to the garage... So the occasional odors we smelled in the garage were attributed to remnants of the litter box and cats, and a little FebrezeŽ took care of the occasional odors - no problem.
We started using more and more FebrezeŽ, though, and pretty soon, we were spraying that stuff everywhere to try and get rid of the smells. One night it got so bad that we decided to go stay with Mom and Dad. Dad and I were discussing things and decided that we ought to start investigating that sheet-rocked garage ceiling that I liked so much when we were looking at the house. So Dad and I both took the next day off from work.
The next morning, we went back to the house , donned our charcoal-filter respirators, and started knocking out sheet-rock and ripping out insulation. Wow! We found all kinds of possum evidence! Those possums must have been actually living in part of the garage ceiling! Evidence just kept pouring out of the ceiling. More and more evidence... Every time we would remove a sheet-rock panel, out would come more evidence... So much evidence that after removing only half the ceiling sheet rock, we thought we surely must have gotten it all. There couldn't possibly be any more evidence in that ceiling. Besides, I didn't want to take any more of that sheet-rocked ceiling down than we had to. Surely we made a difference, must have made a difference, so we decided to stop working on the ceiling and go to work the next day.
When I got home I was overwhelmed by the smell of evidence, possum evidence, that was still contained in the ceiling. I called Dad and he brought over his respirator and we ripped out still more evidence, sheet rock, insulation, and bodies, possum bodies, in the ceiling.
After removing the entire ceiling from the garage, and disposing of all the evidence we could find, we knew that there couldn't be any more possums or their evidence up there. When we finally removed everything from the ceiling, the final count was 6 dead possums and about 20 pounds of possum evidence. A couple of months later, I did get new insulation in place, just in time for winter, to keep the garage warm in the cold months. No evidence has been seen since.
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