We recently moved house, and among other chores, I’ve been clearing out my old computer files. I came across this post, written a couple years ago when we still lived on a small farm in the foothills of western North Carolina. I thought it might be fun to revisit. For sure, moving bats is easier than moving house!
A few years back, a family of bats moved into the cedar siding on our house. I wanted the bats–one brown bat can eat 1,000 insects in a single night–but didn’t approve of them scraping around inside the walls of the home. So I offered them an upgrade to a purpose-built bat house (the black box). Proving themselves to be sophisticated creatures, they upped sticks and moved quite willingly to their new home. However, they also thrived, and the quantity of bat shit accumulating on our deck from a colony of a hundred brown bats, and of more concern, the heady aroma on a hot summer’s day, forced me to think of an alternative.
The bats had to move!
So, in late winter, once they hibernated. I moved them. How did I know they had hibernated? I’m glad you asked . . . no droppings on the deck, of course (see this really is all about batshit). Anyway, once they were all sleepin’, I bolted together a couple twelve-foot long 4x4s to make a twenty-foot pole, screwed some 3/4 inch ply on top, and attached it to the side of one of our barns.
I’m proud, and not a little astonished, to tell you I then secured a ladder with rope so it didn’t slip. Those who know me well just sucked in a deep breath, shook their heads slowly, and muttered something to the effect of: “Pete’s gettin’ soft in his old age.” And they’d be batshit-right. That pole was shakin’ more than my knees!
With the new home base in place, I screwed a big-ol’ eyehook into the siding above the old bathouse, ran a double rope through and hooked it to the top. Then Joyce lowered the houseful of bats down the wall. Oddly, both Joyce and I were whispering so we didn’t wake them. Oh, yeah, I duct taped the opening at the bottom in case they fell out. Only later did I wonder what I’d have done if the bats had woken, panicked and tried to escape, only to get stuck on the duct tape–what a way to go.
I tippy-toes across the yard. Yes, that’s an old piece of toilet chain attached to the house–so sue me, I’m writin’ my own rules here.
Up the ladder, put the rope through a pulley, and Joyce hoisted up the house and held it in place while I attached it to the new backboard. Yes I look scared . . .So, what’s ya point!!!
So why the title: Batshit Happy?
Well, we had a tough winter. There was less protection in the new location than on the side of the house. Come March, Joyce and I switched from hating all the batshit, to looking for it every day at the bottom of the pole. If they’d frozen, how would I get a hundred dead bats out of the house–more to the point what would that smell like?
If I cleared out the dead, would other bats move in, or would the new house be the bat equivalent of Freddy Kreuger’s pad?
Then, in mid-March, Joyce came running into the house (our house not the bat house) shouting. “We have shit!” And here’s the cool part. The new location was just below our gazebo. So fifteen minutes after dusk, as we were sippin’ on a cocktail, we’d watch the bats swooping out of their new home like miniature dive bombers (they come out headfirst). Who needs TV?