Before I moved to Mississippi, I have to admit that I did not read the “Why Y’all Should Move to Mississippi” brochure cover to cover; however I am pretty sure that there was not any mention or oh-by-the-way warning that it could be 12 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Day. Miss Sherry and I were very grateful that the power, and therefore the heat, stayed on, but I did manage to freeze/blow up one outside pipe due to my miscalculation. Letting the inside faucets drip was effective at keeping them from freezing and minimally inconvenient, but this strategy outside turned out to be a big oops.
Apparently outside faucets need a much faster drip than inside faucets, because the drip froze, then the water in the pipe froze, then the partially open shutoff valve froze, which then broke the pipe; when it thawed there was a fountain in the backyard. Off to the hardware store to buy a replacement T pipe, and a new shut off valve that also no longer shut off the water completely. No big deal, and I had plenty of company in the plumbing aisle with other men grumbling and trying to find the correct replacement parts.
I am not a botanist or possess a green thumb, but I am pretty sure that the azalea hedge out front froze solid and is now most sincerely dead. It has never been this color, or brittle, or dead looking before, so I am guessing that 12 degrees Fahrenheit is not an azalea friendly temperature. I am not too sad about this since I have been itching to cut down this hedge, but the task of removing a large row of bushes seems a little daunting now; probably a good job for my chainsaw-on-a-stick as soon as it gets warmer outside.
Before the Great Freeze, the kitchen drain was gurgling. and I think that indicates the drain pipe under the house is partially blocked. Since this job did not involve a ladder I was on it instantly; well ‘instantly’ to a Dad means about two weeks later. Some genius ancestor, a sincere compliment, put a cleanout under the kitchen sink outside the crawl space. A pleasant surprise because 1) there is a cleanout, and 2) I do not have to crawl under the house to access it.
I got my ‘clean the sewer hose’ and turned on the water full blast. I fed the hose into the drain pipe slowly in case of any backsplash; don’t ask how I know this. I did feel a little resistance twice in the thirty feet of hose, but nothing big. Leaving the hose running, I went out to the front of the house and looked into the cleanout there, and success; nice clean water flowing freely toward the street. I put everything back together and was pleased with one small success.
It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas when my camera captured Columbo eating the sunflower seeds out of the front of the electronic rat trap. That was a first for him. Rats are extremely cautious so he ate just a few and left, but I knew he would be back. Sure enough the next night he was back at the trap eating all of the sunflower seeds, including the ones at the back of the trap that should have tripped it, but didn’t. Well shoot, maybe the batteries are dead, but the low battery light is not blinking, so back under the house to retrieve and inspect the trap. No seeds in the trap, trap was on and not tripped, trap resets fine. OK, so I put more seeds in the trap, reset it, and put it back under the house on the pipe.
I was watching the camera the next night and there was Columbo eating the seeds out of the trap. Did he somehow figure out how to avoid tripping the trap? He stops eating after a few seeds and leaves. The camera queues to the next time motion is detected and there is Columbo eating the seeds out of the trap again. Just when I thought this was another swing and a miss, the trap tripped. I removed the rat from under the house the next morning; Columbo has left the building.
After two weeks without the camera under the house seeing a rat, and both piles of sunflower seeds being untouched, I declared victory that Columbo was indeed the last rat under the house, and maybe I did finally plug the last access hole. I would rather not kill the rats, but I do need to remove them. This rat would not go near the live trap, maybe because he was the little rat that escaped it before.
It has now been four months since the flood at the end of August which definitely has a silver lining, at least for me. I did not want to jinx it before, but since the flood we have not had any ants in the kitchen (Miss Sherry says she has seen four ants in the kitchen since September; I round that down to zero) or on the back deck. The barn was completely flooded for a day and I know there were ants living under my patio-brick floor, but not any more. Excellent, and a much appreciated development from what some would call bad weather.
So now, I have no ants and no rats, but we still have ladybugs in the kitchen; Miss Sherry put at least twenty of the little buggers outside yesterday. We do not remember them hanging around this long, but then again we do not remember a growing list of things. In any case, without ants or rats I am happy to catch and release some ladybugs; that is a trade I would make any day, and also a very nice beginning to a Happy New Year.