Friday, July 5, 2013

Christmas in July (bat relocation)

When we lived in our previous home, a 1950's ranch in Denver, I always thought it would be wonderful to deck it all out with Christmas lights for the holidays. I thought that would be so beautiful, so Christmas-y... Unfortunately Joe didn't share my vision and those were the days when I was too afraid of ladders to do it myself so the house was only decorated a few times.

Since living here I've had to make peace with my fear of ladders though, and I do hang Christmas lights up... but only in the summer.

Keep reading, it will make sense...

I hang them in the summer because that's when I want their light. After years of living with bats roosting under my front porch roof...(even mentioned in one of my first blog posts!) dealing with bat droppings on the front porch and the ewwww factor of bats hanging above my head as I walked in the front door... Finally, after trying countless different ways to get rid of them, I decided they would never leave... so I'd better learn to live with them.

(this is an older picture of a few of my unwanted front porch guests....)

They are only a problem in the summer (where they go in the winter is anyone's guess... I'm just happy it's not my front porch). So, I hung a bat house up high under the porch roof, close to the place they like to roost (but NOT directly over my front door... their favorite hang out - pun intended :)  ) and then I hang Christmas lights up under the rest of the porch roof. (Insert evil cackle here...) Bats don't like light... they won't roost where there is a bunch of light (a million tiny icicle lights for example) so my lights "encourage" them to roost in the only dark spot left... the bat house.. far from me and my front door.

I started this strategy a couple of years ago and it has been mostly successful. It took awhile, but they did eventually move into the bat house... although not before trying to get rid of the lights over and over and over... (they must be fairly smart, they actually tear down barriers I've tried to keep them from getting to "their" spot).

I expected the same pretty good results this year, but didn't factor in the relatively short life span of Christmas lights. Especially old ones that were found buried in the basement having not been used since we lived in Denver in a 1950's ranch.

When I plugged them in this year, half the lights were burnt out... not just random lights here and there, but whole sections of the light string were dark. And the bats were back to roosting over the front door. So it was time to take the old lights down and put up a fresh new string.

This involved wrestling our 10' ladder onto the front porch and me climbing too far up it for my peace of mind... s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out far enough to unhook the old string of lights a little at a time and hooking up the new one in it's place, twisting all those little "icicles" around the main string as I go along, to concentrate the light as much as possible up in the peak of the roof where they like to roost.

I HATE climbing that high on the ladder, and hate is really not a strong enough word here... I don't like heights, I'm prone to vertigo, and among the things I've inherited from my mother (the formica coffee table, the deacon's bench they bought when I was a baby), I've also got her bad bones. Although, I supposed anyone falling off a 10' ladder would probably break a bone... I might just break several... large and important ones. That ladder literally makes me shudder...


One set of lights coming down as one set is going up...


The job only took about an hour (most of that time was spent wrestling with the ladder, which is too tall to fit anywhere but under the very peak of the porch roof) . The lights are UP... the ladder is put away... and I've said my thank you prayers for NOT falling off the ladder and killing myself.


I know bats are wonderful creatures that eat bugs and are being threatened by some weird nose virus (bacteria?!), and I do love wildlife... I have feeders and water for the birds, am careful what kind of fencing I use because of the deer, have rescued fawns from mean dogs and their own stupidity, I even drag dead deer down into the far corner of the gully for the coyotes to feast on... but I draw the line at bats on the front porch.

Time to relocate again bats... your house is all ready for you!

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