FamilyHomesteading

The first month really stunk. Literally!

We are officially through our first month of living in Missouri! It has been great but has also had its moments that made me shake my head. We have gotten very good at playing the game “What’s that smell?” I have also gotten quite good at setting mouse traps and shooting armadillos.

Buying a house that is in a remote location has its own set of challenges, but buying a house that is in the middle of nowhere AND has been vacant for 2 years can REALLY be challenge.

The week before we left Arizona we had a contractor come out to the Missouri home and update the wiring in the outbuildings as well as add extra vents to the crawl space of the home. Early one morning while still in bed in Arizona I received a text from him. It said, “I was out yesterday and installed all the new vents and came back this morning to work on the electric. Something must have been trapped under the house and has completely destroyed one of the new vents trying to get out. I think it is best if I leave that vent cover off until you arrive and you can try to kill/trap whatever it is under there.”

I didn’t really give it much more thought as we were busy getting ready to move and I knew I would be bringing my live traps with me. I figured it would be as easy as setting a trap near that vent cover and just waiting to catch whatever “it” was. After about of week of being in Missouri and still with an empty trap, I came to the conclusion that it must have already moved out, so I put the vent cover back on and sealed it up. That afternoon when we came back from town, the vent cover as pushed out once again. That was just the beginning of the problems though. That day we started to smell a very musty odor coming from our A/C vents. I looked under the house and realized that whatever was under there also destroyed all of the duct work to half of the house. Since we were brand new and didn’t know repairmen yet, I looked up a few A/C guys online and found one that had good reviews. We have already learned that around here, there is “regular” time and “Ozark” time. If you hire someone who works on “Ozark” time it might take quite a while to get things done. Not a big deal for some things, but in this case, we needed someone NOW. All the reviews I read said he is a good Christian guy and very punctual. I was very surprised when I called and they said they could come within the hour!

Ken showed up with his son and I showed them the crawl space of our house. Our crawl space is a pretty scary place. It is only about 18 inches tall and all of our plumbing, gas lines, duct work, etc. are down there. So it is VERY cramped. Ken crawled around in there for a while but could not get to the area to fix the last bedroom. Since we have floor vents in those rooms, he decided he could fix it from inside the house. When he took the vent cover off, he was able to show me a HUGE animal hole in the crawl space below that room! He thought it was from rats, but there was no real way of knowing. Personally, I thought it looked big enough for something much larger like a possom or sasquach. He was finally able to get all of the duct work put back together and we sealed up all of the crawl space vents and I even added some extra screening on them to be safe. Whatever the big thing was down there was out by now. I had the vent covers back on for nearly a week at this point with no more “escapes”. Apparently though, there were several small things trapped, who decided to die, one at a time over the course of the next week or so. It seems something even died IN one of the flexible duct lines. That means, every time the A/C kicked on we had the wonderful odor of dead rodent! This lasted for about a week or more but has now gone away!

In the middle of all of this, we obviously had to start unpacking and setting things up. I decided to get the washing machine hooked up. As I was moving it into place, I noticed that under the new linoleum there was a floor drain that had been covered up. I figured when they put down the new flooring they were just being lazy and covered it up. It would be nice to have a drain there just in case the washer ever leaked, so I cut out the flooring and bought a drain cover at the hardware store. It looked really nice. I tested it and it worked great. That night we went to bed after a hard days work, not knowing what we would awaken to. The laundry room, where the drain is, is near our master bedroom. When we woke up, we played round 2 of “What’s that smell?” Our entire room smelled like rotten eggs. REALLY rotten eggs. Initially, I suspected the dog as she lays right next to my side of the bed, but this was bad even for her. Next, we assumed something else had died under the house so, I went investigating. I couldn’t smell anything in the crawl space. The weird part this time was the odor only seemed to be in the laundry room and our bedroom area. I suspected the drain since that was the only thing that had changed recently. I did some research online and realized we were probably smelling sewage gas. I thought maybe it was just a fluke since we just uncovered that drain and decided to wait a day to see what happened. As the day went on the smell disappeared all together and I was happy I hadn’t spent money to have someone come out. That is until the next morning, when the odor was back 10 fold. This time, I called a local septic company and again to my surprise he said he could be out that afternoon. He investigated the problem and said that because that drain is the lowest point in our plumbing system, it was acting like a vent for the septic tank and that was why we were now smelling sewage from it. He recommended that we cover it back up and see if the odor would go away. It did. While he was here, he said he should look in the tank to see if it needed to be pumped. He took the cap off the tank, which is made out of an old plow disc. He took one look inside and knew it was full enough that it needed to be pumped. He asked how long the house had been vacant. I told him about 2 years or more. He said he suspected there was a petrified layer of poop stuck at the bottom of the tank just waiting to break loose, kind of like a big poop ice berg. If it did, that would prevent the tank from draining properly and could cause more serious problems. He could come back tomorrow to “break it up” and pump the tank. The next evening he came back and got it all cleaned out. I will save you the details, but let’s just say breaking up turd island is just about as gross as you can imagine. It involves one man and a big metal bar.

That brings us to the final week of our first month. Since we arrived, we have been noticing that our front yard has been torn up by what I suspected were Armadillos. Armadillos root around in the grass just like pigs do and are VERY destructive. Since they only come out at night, it is hard to find them. I finally had enough though and decided I would sit outside at night with my gun and start to take care of the problem. So far in the past week, I have shot 5 armadillos. Their shell is not very hard so a 22 works just fine. The problem is, they usually don’t just fall over dead. They run back into the woods and die there. Of course, they don’t all run to the same spot to die. They scatter. So now throughout the day, we get to play several rounds of “What’s that smell?” as we are working around the property. At least this time, the smell of death also smells like victory. Luckily the buzzards seem to be taking care of them pretty quickly.

Well, that is our first month, wouldn’t trade it for anything! ¬†Oh, and I also bought a tractor!
Kevin

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