Married people say to singles “so when are you setting the wedding date?” Parents say to newlyweds “so when do you plan to have kids?” And newcomers to the boonies tell their buds back in the city “you should move to the country.” It’s a “join the club” kind of thing. “Feel our pain” and “experience our madness”. Nobody likes to suffer alone.
Elsewhere on this web site are my Fear & Loathing tales of transitioning from sailboat to my new home: a beach house built up on stilts in a cow pasture in rural South Carolina.
There’s my ongoing contest with cow #316 escaping its pasture to sample my musa basjoo banana trees (from the mountains of Japan).
There’s the copperhead snake that took up residence in my Miata.
There’s the deer that cleaned out my all my peach trees in one single night.
There’s heavy machinery accidents in the vineyard due to operator error.
There’s the bats in the attic and, this year, carpenter bees. My countermeasure: a badminton racquet.
There’s the trail of parts—like bread crumbs—left behind by the Pineapple Hill “farm Jeep”. Oddly, none of what falls off seems to be missed, so there’s that feeling of another shoe waiting to drop.
I’ve never experienced as much chaos as what happens out in the boonies. Stuff happens all the time. Way more than I remember other places I’ve lived. And there have been many.
The learning curve is fascinating, common sense stuff. For instance, instead of locating of the sheep pasture based on how cool it will look from the road or from the porch, place it near water. And preferably, natural flowing water such as a creek versus water requiring an electric pump to get it up from the ground and then across a field up a hill.Who’d a thunk it? Not me, DUH, a newcomer to the Green Acres way of life
# # #
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool Surf Director at Pineapple Hill
Today “yours truly” put a halogen lamp and a boom box in the attic to drive out some bats.
I’m not proud of it.
# # #
We first discovered our unwelcome guests this time two years ago. They were
getting in through a very small space where a dormer met up with the roof.
We were told not to plug up the hole while the bats were inside or they would die.
“They’ll leave when the cool Fall weather comes,” we were told. “You can block them out then.”
So we waited. And, sure enough, the bats left.
I went up into the attic and wriggled into a tight corner my body was never meant to be. I plugged the hole a dozen different way. Blocking out bats for sure.
We enjoyed Winter knowing we were good. No bats in the attic. But our relief was temporary.
A March storm came through and loosened the fascia on the front dormer, opening a new “door” for the bats. Three stories up, it was too high for my ladder. So I had to call The Man.
# # #
The Man is the guy that comes to Pineapple Hill when Crystal reminds me of the time, years ago, way before The Hill, I tried fixing the kitchen faucet with a 30-cent washer late one Sunday night and ended up paying some shady characters $300 (“we don’t checks, Mister, just cash”).
# # #
It does no good reminding her of my cost saving triumphs against that backdrop of times we got gouged.
# # #
Unfortunately, it took a while for The Man (Bat Man) to show up …and so the bats came back that Spring for another stay at Hotel Pineapple Hill.
Rather than risk having The Man trap the bats in our attic when he fixed the dormer window fascia, I decided to drive them out before he arrived. Having seen all those movie seen where a cloud of bats emerge –fleeing hysterically– when humans venture into their caves, I figured it would be easy.
But, no, they didn’t rush out when I very cautiously, ever-so-slowly poked my head up into the attic.
# # #
In the military they call it a psy-op (psychological operation) and it often involves breaking the enemy down, emotionally and even physiologically, with unrelenting bright light all night combined with obnoxious music blaring loud.
Sounds great “in theory”. Ten-four. Roger that.
# # #
The bright lights were easy. All I had to do was rummage through Crystal’s tubs of Christmas stuff and find the ones she used to illuminate the wreaths on our columns and on the front of the house.
I set them up in the attic, very close to my escape route. Then I plugged them in.
LOTS OF BATS UP THERE! Way more than I had thought (decided right away not to mention that to Crystal, having not even finished unpacking our last move).
# # #
The problem was choosing the music (there’s was nothing online about the listening preferences of bats).
It was critical to play music they hated, not something they liked. I didn’t want to make them even more inclined to stay. I didn’t want to them to put the word out to the other bats outside that there was a party getting going; that the owner of the place was coolest bat deejay ever.
First, I tried a radio station that was playing screetching blatant heavy metal but when I came back fifteen minutes to see if it had worked the station, for some reason, was playing Barry Manilow. Neither worked. No hysterical fleeing of bats. And Barry Manilow as getting on my nerves.
Clearly I couldn’t leave the music warfare component in the hands of hands of am/fm.
# # #
I grabbed a box of CDs and went through them.
Ray Charles? Nope. Too mellow. Too rockn cool.
Mozart? Too soothing.
Santana? Too early for that. And I’m out of Corona.
Dire Straits? Now way am I going to exploit the greatest band in the world. Same goes for U2, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, and Led Zeppelin III on vinyl. No way am I going to risk creating a Bat Woodstock in Pineapple Hill’s attic.
And then I found it. A New Age recording of whales. Back when I bought it, the first couple of minutes had been interesting (in a “let’s commune with nature” way) but after a few hours I’d gone (forgive my French) “bat sh$t” crazy. It had taken a week of Dire Straits, U2, and Zeppelin (plus Robert Plant’s Manic Nirvana) to eradicate the whales from my head.
I assumed it would make actual bats insane too…
# # #
The Man arrived when the whales were at peak crescendo. It didn’t say anything but I saw him sneak a look to his helper.
I started to explain but thought it better not to go there.
He got up on his latter and looked at the dormer and, while he was there, looked around the eaves and at places on the roof.
I stood on the lawn and tried to watch. But I was starting straight into the sun and all I could see was his silhouette as I shielded my eyes with my hand.
He came back down the ladder. Midway, he stopped, looked over his shoulder and spat. He was a tobacco chewer. When both feet were on the ground he spat again.
For the longest time he stood next to me at the base of the ladder looking up at the dormer, shielding his eyes from the sun. We said nothing. Just listened to the whales. No bats were flying out.
Finally he turned and spat again, a big one, and said “Well I’ll get up there and fix that now. It’ll just take a sec.”
“Great. What about the bats?”
“They won’t be going in and out at the fascia anymore. That’s for sure,” he said, rolling a big hunk of chew from one side of his mouth to the other. “But don’t worry. They won’t be trapped in there. Too many other places to go in and out.”
# # #
The next winter, after the bats had left Pineapple Hill to spend the season someplace warmer, I wiggled back up into the attic again and closed up every obvious entry point.
But a few months later, another March storm came through –loosening the fascia on the back dormer…
…just in time for the arrival of the bats (with their Panama hats, Hawaiian shirts, sandals and wild yarns about living large “spending the season” in the Tropics).