The upstairs renters

Living in the country is wonderful. I would never want to live in a city, but being surrounded by all kinds of wild critters does have its challenges. For instance: the critters that have taken up residence in our attic or, for one species, maybe even on our roof.
The woodpeckers started the whole debacle. They drilled some holes in the attic space above the ceiling and the cabin, which we patched and re-patched, then drilled out the expanding foam, and kept working.
After that, the starlings moved into the spaces created by the woodpeckers. I don’t really mind the starlings because they eat wasps and anything that eats a wasp or fly is okay in my book, but they are noisy renters and dirty. It seems that they squabble all the time! The noises that come from the apartment are just awful, especially when their next build is commencing — apparently, she’s making him move the furniture around again and he isn’t happy. When the egg laying and brooding takes place it gets pretty quiet, but soon the little bundles of joy hatch and it gets noisy again, but this time it’s worse because the kids are hollering for food all of the time.
This is about when it starts getting dirty, too. As the kids grow, the nesting material gets kicked out of the nest site and lands on our front step. And the poop… they poop a lot, usually when they leave the nest.
Enter the squirrels. They have caused a stir the last few years by trying to take over the starlings apartment and, like all squatters, they are really hard to get rid of. Their only redeeming factor is that they do make good stew in the winter and we do like squirrel stew.
But this year we have another problem: an ant colony has taken up residence under the slab that the back porch is on. I don’t mean little sugar or grease ants either, these are field ants, the ones that build huge mounds of sticks and debris. It wouldn’t be a problem if they stayed under the slab or outside, but they haven’t. First, they started coming in the back porch, then I noticed them climbing the wall, both inside and outside of the corner of the back porch. I don’t know if they are building a sun porch on the roof or what. Maybe they’re growing a garden up there, I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t like it.
So I started feeding them a buffet of ant bait about every three days and I think I am winning, but now we have flying ants. Apparently, it’s time for a new queen and the males, which are the ones that fly, are hatching. They are all over the back porch. Every morning we spend several minutes stepping on them and then sweeping them up and throwing them outside.
I may be forced to fumigate the house, but I really hate to. That will mean moving the lizard, the roaches and us to another place for a few days. I guess we will see if it comes to that.
Oh, and now a horn fly is expressing its displeasure about the fact that we no longer have cows. It is flying around my head and in my face while I write.
Zucchini season is coming. This recipe was shared to a local cook book by Andy Reid from here in Basin. The cookbook was printed in the late seventies when people were trying to find anything to do with zucchini.

Zucchini Marmalade
- 2 pounds young zucchini
- Juice of two lemons
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 package powdered pectin
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 (13½ ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger.
Peel, squash and slice thin, measure 6 cups, put into large kettle. Add sugar, lemon juice peel and pineapple, bring to boil, lower head and simmer until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Add pectin, place over high head and bring to a full boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim, allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir to keep fruit from floating. Ladle into jars, process in water bath for 10 minutes.