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Andrea's column: Creepy critters

A friend posted a question on Facebook. A woodchuck took up residence under a shed in her yard. She asked how she could get it to move on. I had just the solution.

A couple of weeks ago, I complained to another friend about the influx of critters on my deck. She advised me to write a column about it. I did but didn't add the part that made my friend laugh. It pertained to a situation at my old house, not to the unwanted squirrels and raccoon that currently have me flummoxed.

Our former house had a big yard with a wooded area behind it. My husband cleared an area for a deer feeder. In the winter, with the leaves off the trees and snow on the ground, it was easy for us to see the herd of five deer roaming the woodland.

We enjoyed the deer. The birds that gathered at our feeders, too. We didn't like the shrews that moved in underneath our lawn, however, the lawn to which my husband devoted much of his free time.

We learned the burrowing invaders had staked a claim on our property when I decided to surprise my hubby by cutting the grass. When I got near the utility box that rested on the property line between our yard and the house alongside us, the earth pulsed and I ran next door to ask our neighbor if there could be a loose wire or cable under the grass.

He diagnosed the problem as shrews. When my husband got home, I told him. In a state of hysterics. He said he would ask people he worked with if they had dealt with the problem. Someone suggested traps. I turned down that idea. I didn't want to catch them. I wanted them to leave.

By the following spring, I had forgotten about the varmints and, once again, decided to treat my husband by cutting the grass. Wearing headphones, I started at the bottom of the hill in back and listened to music as I mindlessly walked back and forth.

About my tenth time across, a movement right ahead of me caught my eye; an animal poking his head out of the ground. I couldn't stop the power mower in time and watched as the top half of a body flew through the air. I was up the hill and inside the house in record time. My husband would have to rescue the mower and finish the job.

"Was it a shrew for sure?" he asked. How was I to know? I didn't stick around to study the evidence.

"Fox urine," said the clerk in the store. "Squirt some on cotton balls and place them around the yard." We were doubtful but bought two bottles and stopped at Walgreen's for cotton balls. At dusk, we implemented the plan.

The next morning, I opened the blinds in the guest bedroom. My eyes were drawn to light green stripes in the grass that went straight to the curb. At the end of each one was a mound of dirt. "I think they're gone," I hollered to my husband.

A few days later, our neighbor across the street rang our doorbell. He wanted to thank us. "Your shrews packed up their little suitcases and moved into our yard," he told me. "They're unpacking right now."