⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SERVICE STORY (Reviewed on Home Advisor) – “We had a great experience and highly recommend Jake. He is responsive, effective and thoughtful.”
WELCOME TO ONE OF STORYSOLD’S FIRST EVER LIVE ACTION NOVELS – A BOOK WORTH OF PEST CONTROL SOLD BY THE CHAPTER! – ABOUT A LITTLE HOME AWAY FROM HOME NESTLED IN THE MT. HOOD WILDERNESS PRODUCED FOR EDDIE B. AND HIS FELLOW CABIN OWNERS.
Chapter 1 (Nov 14th): Entry Hole Disorder
I am Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator in charge of rodent services for Storysold: Pest Control, and this is the story of my service –
Not far from a mountain named Hood, an old forest service cabin waits empty, cold, and alone for its humans to arrive with skis, coolers, and kids in hand. It doesn’t mind that it’s not a normal home warm and full year round. It doesn’t mind waiting, because it knows the time it shares with its human owners is special. There’s something awesome about providing that moment when it feels all the stress, work drama, and troubles melt away, like ice on boots, when they open the front door.
Life for the Little Home Away from Home would be great, except one rather embarrassing problem. It’s old, and it has a condition known in The Environmental Control Sciences as “entry holes.”
Entry Hole Disorder is a common territorial condition suffered by many homes, young and old! In addition to the generally hideous look of having holes on its exterior, Entry Hole Disorder encourages the wild creatures living around it to “act out” and “misbehave.”
The scientific term for this misbehavior is “voluntary domestication,” which is good for humans (who enjoy the benefits of voluntary domestication rituals like school, boot camp, and marriage), but it’s not so good for wild creatures like mice who have a very important job to do. They need to crack nuts, burrow under trees, feed the owls, and keep The Wilderness running right, and the rest of the planet along with it.
The last thing mice need to be doing is poking their little heads in entry holes and finding duty free shelter from predators in the Little Home Away from Home. But that’s exactly what they’ve been doing…
I suppose that’s why Eddie called Storysold: Pest Control. He didn’t know it until now, but our host Jake assigned all three of our customer service characters to cure his Little Home Away from Home from its disorder. I’m in charge of finding and excluding all the entry holes, and trapping all my rodent friends who don’t “get it” and absolve themselves of their acts of voluntary domestication. Pest Predator has been given the challenge of keeping the ants out, and Bookmaker Jake will do what he does best: track and write The Action down, so we can all be on The Same Page.
I like that Bookmaker writes it down, because, as we know, any pest control service that doesn’t track The Action is doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again, year after year, without end.
With that said, our adventure began on a cold, quiet Sunday with a cup of coffee and a long walk in and outside the cabin.
“Crap,” I said when she saw the crawlspace. “Our human is too fat to fit through that hatch. I’m going to have to build the Homefront the hard way…from the outside.”
“So you have a Plan B?” Bookmaker asked, secretly hoping his teammate would fail to find a way to exclude the cabin, so he could laugh at his rival’s failure and feel more right about his life.
“Argh! I hate mystery crawlspaces!”
As I fumed, I put my 3rd person/bird’s eye perspective into action, exploring for another way to exclude the cabin.
“You know I’m not the one who’s going to have to call Eddie and say I can’t exclude your cozy cabin because our human’s too fat,” Bookmaker sneered. “You will…rodent’s are your department.”
I ignored her teammate’s jeers.
Moments later she said, “Got it! I’m going to use cement, wire, and foam to build the Homefront around the stone foundation, and then build custom-made vents for the entry holes under the accessible part of the crawl!”
“What other choice do you have…?” Bookmaker laughed.
I didn’t reply. I let my work do the talking:
First I inspected the roof for squirrel and rat sized entry holes. Finding none, I trimmed as many branches as I could reach. My grand plan was to trim all the branches within squirrel reach of the roof, so the humans inside wouldn’t have to listen to the obnoxious scampering and scratching of rodents on the roof in the early morning and night. But some of those branches were pretty darned high.
For safety sake, I left a few of the high for next week…and a better plan for reaching them other than the ladder.
The gap at the base of that eve didn’t have any signs of activity, but it was hanging in the wind, so I decided to repair it as a warm up. Then I broke out her gear: tin snips, cement, screen, and screws…and begin to build the territorial borderland around the cabin we at Storysold call the Homefront. Patching entry holes in homes is always a superior, more cost effective way, to tell the wilderness “No.” Killing chemicals and poisons don’t send the right signal. Even mice know, the death of kinfolk doesn’t deter the actions of wild creatures. Nature loves revenge plots like most humans. Death of a family member is prelude to revenge, escalation, power struggle, The Central Conflict of a never-ending, mouse-centered hero quest to become the cabin’s latest up-and-coming House Mice.
“Thanks Fat Jake!” Bookmaker heckled. “That would have looked a lot better if Guide had done it inside the crawlspace.”
“It will look…and work…a lot better than nailing on wire mesh big enough for a small mouse to fit through, then pinning it to the foundation with rocks.” I replied. “In time it will look like all the other rocks.”
I did three screens, then I used cement to patch the entry holes I found in the foundation.
Next I used professional exclusion foam to get the entry holes on the side of the front door, around the chimney, the 2 holes that were found under the sink, and the mouse sized gap on the side of a bedroom closet.
Inside I also installed a commercial door sweep on the side door…
By the end of the service, I fixed one roof panel and excluded 4 entry points with screens, one with a door sweep, and about ten small gaps between rocks with cement and foam.
And I set roughly thirty traps in crawlspace, under sink, kitchen, stove area, bathroom, and utility area.
Not a bad beginning to what we hope will be a successful service story.
Chapter 2 (Dec 3rd): More Holes than Swiss Cheese
It’s aways good to begin the day with a failure. It’s great motivation to make everything that follows perfect.
I taped a pruning saw to her bee pole in hopes of reaching the high limbs overhanging the cabin, but alas…
That was a horrible idea.
What did work, however, was the two hours or so I spent (jumpsuit and headlamp on, hip-hop playing) in the accessible crawlspace excluding the many holes we found there. In total, I counted 12 entry points I excluded with hardware cloth and foam:
I didn’t find any signs of activity from my traps and bait in the mystery crawl, but I wasn’t fooled by my wilderness creature friends. She tracked The Action and discovered old piles of seed and snail shells in the crawl as well as a fresh burrow near the foundation.
“It’s possible that, unlike an urban home, your cabin has a sold supply of food outside for the rodent population to feed on, leaving heat and shelter as the primary attractants which draw them inside.”
“Wishful thinking as always, Guide,” her coworker Bookmaker laughed. “It is also possible they know the routine…wait for the humans to arrive, then belly up for the feast!”
The good news is, the cabin is definitely not infested. It’s more like a hot vacation spot for the mice in the cabin’s most immediate wilderness to travel to during peak season, when the scene is happening, heat is high, and offerings of exotic human are bountiful. Even after many years of working wilderness security, I still find it amazing when I’m able to track The Action enough to watch it like TV. Not too unlike the relationship parents have with their children, my wild creature friends watch, learn, and take their cues from us.
That was the good news. The bad news is, it will take some time for me to react to the rodent’s reactions to my exclusion efforts. Exclusion (especially in the wild) can be like a game of chess. The rodents win if they can enter the cabin through a hole I can’t exclude, track, or discover, and we win if I can find and exclude their every effort to enter in…
Speaking of which, I tracked down a real highway behind the chimney to the right of the front door.
“I’d say that explains all the mouse droppings around the fireplace…” I said, dusting my jumpsuit off. “I hope that leads directly into the house, not directly into the space our human host is too fat to fit into…”
“But!” Jake the Human Host stammered, defending himself. “I’m almost as thin now, at age 41, as I was when I graduated boot camp.”
I laughed. “Excuses are like Entry Hole Disorder…every human home has at least one!”
“Whatever you say, Guide,” Jake laughed politely at her witty twist. “And you should leave the comedy to Bookmaker. That was horrible.”
If that hole goes directly into the house, then my exclusion work shown here will work splendidly. If not, they will tunnel under this, and we’ll have to come up with a Plan B.
We didn’t get to the inside exclusions this chapter, but I did come up with what our team of customer services characters all thought was a good idea…a real super cool “weapon” in our fight for a better home away from home for you and your fellow owners. I installed a one-way vent in the accessible crawlspace, because (a) if by some miracle the squirrel was present when we sealed the mystery crawl it will have an escape route (b) if by chance any rodents discover entry into the crawlspace I can use attractant (dog food, peanut butter, etc) to encourage them to leave…and leave me a clear sign that they’ve been there. As I read it, quality information about the goings on under your cabin is more valuable than simply killing the voluntary domesticates. Just killing doesn’t work. They need to learn to respect your home territory, and the only way to do that is showing them where The Magic Line between The Wilderness and your civilization is with concrete, wire, and action…
I left some dog food to bait the trap. I’ll be sure to report if it was moved by some critter when we write the next live action adventure in The Little Home Away from Home.
Chapter 3 (Dec 15th): One Dead Little Shrew
My first full 3 service treatment of your Entry Hole Disorder ended with the exclusion of the large gaps behind the refrigerator.
The gap leading under the stairs was not small. I still wish I was skinny enough to make it through the hatch to see if there are any entry holes leading from the mystery crawlspace into the cabin.
When I was done excluding all the gaps I could access inside, I walked around the cabin and inspected for holes I might have missed. The new hole in front of the cemented screen in front still had the rubber glove I stuffed in it (as a marker), no tunneling activity was found under the exclusion behind chimney, and I didn’t find any other new signs of tunneling anywhere around your new Homefront.
The dog food I put in the vent was still there, uneaten.
And amazingly, after 3 chapters worth of service, I managed to catch some poor creature in the crawlspace.
If I read The Wilderness right, the rodents you found in your cabin weren’t nesting in the crawlspace. No insulation often means no nesting, or activity in places like your accessible and mystery crawlspaces. They had so many entry holes to access your cabin…the mice were simply scampering in from their burrows whenever they wanted a snack, or a dry place to eat their seeds. The poor little guy in the picture is a shrew.
Now that I feel pretty good about excluding raccoons, squirrels, rats, mice, and voles from the Little Home Away from Home, I’m going to continue to look for the very small, shrew holes.
In fact, now that the bulk of the exclusion work is done…I’m handing the next chapter to my teammate Pest Predator to deal with the ants. But, I do not consider my job complete. Each time Predator comes out, I will be present too–always on the lookout for Entry Hole Disorder.
As a grand total, If I count the gaps behind the fridge as 3 entry holes, I excluded about 30 holes in the cabin. That’s a lot of holes.
It feels good to get in early, get the exclusion work done, before the activity hits. Poor little shrew. There always has to be one.
And it won’t be the last.
Chapter 4 (Jan 20th): The Wilderness Strikes Back
Eddie did everything right. He hired a pest guy who did rodent exclusion work before the holidays and ski season hit, doing his part to produce the peace and quiet, rodent free environment he and his fellow owners expected from their Little Home Away from Home.
Instead, soon after I finished my 30 holes of exclusion work, signs of activity were found in the cabin. Here’s the emails:
EDDIE: Good Evening – I hope your holidays have been relaxing and enjoyable. One of my co-owners sent me the following note –
Just left the cabin. There was no mouse poop out in the open but we did see some under the kitchen sink and the small upper drawer to the left of the sink with the extra sponges. My girls also heard critter activity in the wall between the bathroom and the second bedroom. One of his two traps were trigged, but no mouse. I reset. Maybe you can pass this info on to our guy.
GUIDE: I’m all over it. At minimum, I’ll clean all the droppings so we can track the activity better. Is Sunday AM or Monday late afternoon a good time to drop by?
EDDIE: Thx and either day works!
No sooner had we finished reading Eddie’s message, Bookmaker doubled over laughing hysterically. “Ha!” he laughed. “You thought you had it all figured out…all set to pass the service story over to Predator!”
“No,” I replied defiantly. “I never said I cured their Entry Hole Disorder. It’s like a game of chess…that takes time.”
“You mean, it requires a steady supply of money and treatments like the disorders peddled by The Mental Health Industry.”
“Don’t go there,” I sighed. “Environmental disorders are not the same as psychological ones. Even if they were similar, I would never milk our producers by hooking them on The Neverending Service Story.”
“If you say so,” Bookmaker laughed again. “Speaking of producing The Neverending Service Story, what’s your next move?”
“I’m going to clean the cabin for them,” I sighed again. “Or at least all the old mouse droppings, so I can track the activity better.”
“Yeah,” Bookmaker grinned. “But you should also ask for help.”
“From me…and our paying producers…”
I paused, sensing that my teammate Bookmaker was hatching some kind of devious plot. “I don’t need help…especially from you.”
“You have no choice,” Bookmaker grinned like a villain tying his victim to the tracks. “Nobody lives at the cabin. It’s going to be very hard for you to track The Action without breaking The Fourth Wall.”
“Oh crap, don’t start all that Fourth Wall mumbo jumbo again.”
“We need a book…a live action book…that breaks The Fourth Wall and gives our producers an invitation to join The Action.”
“You need to respect the durability of things,” I said, feeling the combat rising in my chest. “We’re not living in The Living City. We’re still dealing with customers, not producers yet…Eddie paid us to not have to worry about mice in his cabin, not shine a huge got-damned light on it.”
“You’ve been calling them producers.”
“So,” I shot back. “I’m still not ready to break The Fourth Wall…not here at least. And I’m the lead customer service character here…so…”
“You asked me to make a book for Jennifer and Kevin in Lake Oswego. Why not make one for Eddie and his friends?”
“You got me there, teammate,” I sighed, resigned like a tired old man. “You can make them a book, but don’t expect us to pay for it. Eddie has a $300 dollar electric bill because we didn’t turn off the heater for them.”
“You mean,” Bookmaker sneered. “You didn’t…remember….you’re the lead customer service character here.”
“Don’t make this an issue,” I cried, wanting very much to punch him. “Lots of people leave their heaters on during winter. I simply decided to leave the cabin like I found it. Leave no trace. It’s not my fault. I don’t even know where the temperature control thingy is.”
“Some great doctor of environmental disorders you are…”
“God, I can’t wait to start working with Predator in the spring! He doesn’t jabber on and on about every little detail.”
“Oh don’t worry, I’m done talking…to you,” Bookmaker huffed. “Why don’t you go hug a tree or do whatever you do for fun.”
“Go ahead and do it,” I replied, knowing all too well what he was about to do. “Break The Wall. I’m going to stay right here and make sure you don’t say anything too weird or antagonizing…”
Bookmaker smiled and stretched his mind like a great big cat waking after a meal and a nap. Then he turned his attention to face a part of The Fourth Wall of civilization he calls, The Customer Service Counter. The Action here is way more complicated than this, but simply The Counter is a segment of The Fourth Wall that divides employees and or service providers on stage from their audience of customers. The Wall between those roles is one of the strongest in all of civilization, but not many humans are aware enough of it’s existence to know how to break it.
Bookmaker cleared his throat, and said, “Hello.”
There was no reply from the other side of The Wall.
“Yes,” Bookmaker said in a kind tone. “I’m talking to you…the human now reading the book I planted in the Little Home Away from Home.”
“In minutes, I’m going to make the book that you’re reading now. Then my teammate Guide and I will prompt our human host Jake to drive to The Little Home Away from Home…where we’re going to clean the old mouse droppings for you, check for new entry holes, check the vent in the crawl, add new attractant to Guide’s traps, and leave the beginning of your live action novel on the table for you to find it.”
I hate to admit it, but he’s right. I do need your help! Please send us a line anytime you hear scratching in the walls, see a mouse scamper across the floor, find fresh mouse droppings, discover food missing, or come face to face with The Wilderness in the foothills of Mt. Hood.
Or break The Fourth Wall just for giggles. Introduce your character (or characters), write a line or two (or twenty three), and we’ll publish it for you in the next exciting chapter of The Little Home Away from Home…
Many hours later, after a full day of work and running with Master Freddy, I send Eddie the following report:
GUIDE: I followed up on your report today. Thanks for the communication. It lead to the discovery of two new entry holes. I found them when I hung upside down in the crawlspace hatch and saw light along the foundation. Anyway, we’re up to 32 now!
1) I vacuumed to the right and left of hatch and the back laundry area, so we can track new activity if it arrises.
2) I replaced the snap traps with mechanical repeater traps, which are a classic choice for long standing commercial accounts like restaurants and factories.
3) I foamed the gap and burrow I found to the left of the chimney.
4) I checked the accessible crawl. It’s possible that the scratching sounds came from there (between bedroom and bathroom) if they came below. I imagine the wildlife that once had free reign there aren’t happy with my work. If the scratching was between bedroom and bathroom from above, I don’t have any working theories for that yet.
5) I cleared 2 dead mice from crawl below sink, then reset traps and added a few. I don’t know how or if they were able to access the cabin yet. A tripped trap could be the ones I caught, or it could be a bad trap. So goes the hunt…we’ll see what happens next.
6) I added a new book to your book shelf for your enjoyment.
7) I checked to make sure the heater was on correct setting.
8) Oh and I decided that next time I come out, I’m going to dump some gravel behind the chimney to right of door. The inaccessible area there just gives me the Willies.
And that’s that 🙂 Jake aka Wilderness Security Guide
Chapter 5 (April 10th): Pest Predator Joins The Action
I am Pest Predator, the Chemical Control Operator in charge of bug hunting for Storysold: Pest Control, and this is the story of my service –
I waited outside the van like a fly on the wall, enjoying the sun while Wilderness Guide read her environment, checking traps, inspecting her exclusion work around the Homefront. The first thing I noticed was what wasn’t there. As a creature of the wild, I love noise. It makes me hungry; like the sounds of a wooden bat hitting a corked ball in a stadium full of cheering fans makes humans run naturally to the refreshment stand for beer and hot dogs.
A healthy forest is a noisy forest that’s full of snacks. I wasn’t sure exactly what the scene was at The Little Home, but it didn’t make me hungry. It sort of reminded me of a park, or a backyard, a good gathering spot for humans, but not so good for bugs. Or at least not yet…
“Where’s all the bugs?” I asked Guide when she returned to the van.
“Who cares?!” she smiled. “My Homefront looks awesome!”
“Nice job!” I said and gave my teammate an “air high five” so as to maintain our social distancing in lieu of the deadly super flu pandemic ravaging the land. “Did you track any activity?”
When Guide finished her report, I laughed and said, “So what you’re saying is, the Homefront you built for this home territory still isn’t baby shrew proof?”
“Yeah but…” Guide shot back seriously.
“Yeah but what?” I laughed. “Where’s that entry hole?”
“Give me a break! Baby shrews are so small it could have wiggled through a crack.”
“Good one Guide…I thought you were going to say it was trapped inside the crawl along with the larger shrew you caught in the last chapter. That would have been a better story.”
Guide just stood (quietly pissed) and stared through me for a moment or two, before she said, “I’m going to add a few buckets of gravel to my Homefront before you spray your chemicals.”
“Don’t say it that way,” I said as I watched Guide grab 2 buckets of gravel from the van. “You know how the humans think. Chemicals mean clean, and cleanliness is next to godliness. And god is good. Try to think of it like applying salt to meat…for preservation of the earth.”
“Good one, Predator!” Guide chuckled, trying to laugh at my geeky joke. “Salt was one of the original pesticides, but it tastes a lot better on potatoes than fipronil does.”
“Why don’t you ask our human Jake what fipronil tastes like?”
I followed Guide to the chimney where she added a layer of gravel over the exclusion work she did in the last chapter. Just because she’s obsessive.
“What are you talking about?” Guide asked. “Jake doesn’t know much of anything.”
“The same chemical I’m about to apply to the foundation of The Little Home is the same chemical Farmer Emily puts on Pip the Evergreen Jungle Cat to kill its fleas. The EPA is worried enough about the toxicity of fipronil to restrict its use to 2 applications per site per year. Never mind the fact I had to pass an official US government test to earn the right to spray chemicals on the land body of Oregon.”
“So what does that have to do with Jake?”
“That’s why he’s so dumb,” I laughed as I imagined the scene. “As soon as we let him punch out for the day, the first thing he does is grab a bag of potato chips, face The Fourth Wall of his TV screen, and pet Pip the Evergreen Jungle Cat. Oh he knows how fipronil tastes, for sure…”
“A drop or two of fipronil is much different than a quarter of a gallon.”
I heard her, but I wasn’t listening. “I bet fipronil is the umami of pesticides…that taste you can’t quite place, but can’t do without.”
“Wasn’t tobacco, at one point, used as a pesticide too?”
“For sure,” I replied. “And our human smoked for over a decade before he finally quit. He must have been using it to treat some kind of a character-based infestation.”
“Heck if I know,” Guide said as she stretched out, like a cat, across the picnic table and faced the sun dancing through the evergreens. “Ask Bookmaker. I’m clocking out.”
With that, Guide propped her owl mask on her nose like a cowboy and drifted off to dreamland as fast as if some wizard had walked by and cast a sleeping spell on her.
Left alone to do my work, I didn’t waste any time. After I spent a good half an hour hunting Eddie’s territory for ants (and finding nothing but a few winged reproductives and unimpressive trails) I decided to mark The Little Home with chemicals.
For those of you who know nothing about The Action of ants, you might be tempted to believe in the chemical industry’s interpretation of what they call “barrier treatments.” They think of the spraying of chemicals around a foundation like its a rat trap, or something, that can be left behind to kill the ants each time they journey in or out, or “breath” (as I call it), from the pores of the home. The math on that idea is strange, because (although its true, ants do breath in and out of homes along the foundation) its also true that they don’t do that all the time. Weather depending, ants may not travel inside to forage for weeks, or months, at a time. So how effective is that trap really?
Besides, in spite of what the chemical industry says, the best non-repellant every company uses for ants (Termidor/fipronil) is not really a full non-repellant. It has repellant qualities, which makes it great for marking territories. Basically, the message I send to the ants when I apply a barrier treatment is “Whoa! Like stop foraging dude…and have a drink with me. Don’t worry, you can go back to work foraging (like Captain Bug Killer wants) after a few drinks. The boss will never know.”
As any drinker knows, “a few drinks” is rarely a few. And most of the time, it’s enough to shut down the work day completely. So it goes with ants and foundation treatments.
The best way to hunt ant infestations is always, in every case, directly. That’s why, after I marked the foundation with my chemical control and baited the exterior and crawlspace with a weather resistant granular bait called Niban, I put together a box of emergency pest control goodies.
The idea is, “strike when the iron is hot.” No different from treating a rash, it does no good to put ointment on a rash before you get it. When you find ants trailing outside, all you need to do is break out the PEST EMERGENCY BOX and place either sugar or granular bait on their trail.
Then again, I don’t treat ants. They’re not a rash, disease, or disorder. I hunt them, and hopefully the good humans who love The Little Home will now be able to hunt them too.
Chapter 6 (Summer 2020): The Home from The Little Home Away from Home