Our War Against The Chipmunks

This is the third summer season that we’ve been in our house. I really don’t count the first one (2007) because we moved in late June, so we barely had a handle on things and I really didn’t know a lot of what was going on.
That year, I did the basics, mowing the grass weeds and pulling weeds from the beds. But, it was only last year that I really started working on really making the outside look better. I attacked the weeds that were filling in the grass and made it look like a real lawn again, mulched the beds, and we also got some flowers to adorn our deck.
The flowers themselves didn’t do so hot, and it turns out we weren’t getting the right type of flowers for the type of sun we got.
So, this year rolls around and we went to the nursery, armed with the knowledge of what flowers would thrive on our deck. We bought them, planted them, and watched with glee as they thrived.
At first.
Now, they aren’t looking so hot. Well, at least the yellow pansies that we have aren’t looking so good. The other flowers (mostly geraniums) are doing OK.
It turns out that the chipmunks are the culprit.
That’s right, chipmunks. Alvin, Simon, Theodore, and they’re host of friends and family.
After the winter thaw, I noticed some strange holes in the ground in the front planting ed under the tree. I figured something was underground, and sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed when the hole kept re-appearing after I filled it in. I even placed a rock that weighed a few pounds on top, only to find it moved.
After keeping an eye on things and consulting with my father and father-in-law, I confirmed that we had chipmunks.

I decided our property needed to be ridded of these beasts. Initially, I had done some research and found that an effective way of eliminating them is to drown them. A five gallon bucket of water with sunflower seeds placed over the water, and a small ramp so they can get to the top is a pretty effective way to get them. They love sunflower seeds, they go to get them, fall in, and that’s all she wrote.
Unfortunately, my wife made me feel so guilty about this plan that I decided against it.
Instead, my father-in-law loaned me one of his traps. The idea being that I would trap them and take them elsewhere. While releasing animals isn’t exactly legal where I live, it is more humane than killing them off.
So, I started setting the trap and caught eight of the little buggers (as well as one really annoyed squirrel) and released them a couple of miles away. Still, I knew that we weren’t rid of them as I still saw them around occasionally.
But, I got lazy as I got tied up with other projects, including staining the deck.
The deck staining involved me moving the flower pots out of the way underneath trees and what not. Apparently, this attracted the chipmunks to ’sample’ the flowers, because when we went to put the flower pots back on the deck, it was with sadness that we noted that our yellow pansies, which previously had been taking over the pots, were now largely wilted messes.
At first, we attributed this to the heat wave that we had last week, when temps were in the 90’s.
Still, the condition didn’t improve even with extra watering and fertilizing, and I couldn’t figure out the deal.
Until a couple of days ago, when I looked outside and saw a chipmunk reach up and yank on the flower, tearing pieces off and uprooting it from the soil.
I actually went outside and chased it off the deck, but either it or another one was back at it a bit later.
I have cayenne pepper spray repellent that is supposed to keep the animals away. I sprayed that on the flowers, and tried my best to replant them (though not sure if they’re too damaged yet or not).
After my wife saw this, she was finally understanding of why I wanted to rid our property of these pests. Prior to that, I think she watched with some level of amusement as I was catching and transporting them, but after seeing what they were doing to her flowers, she was all for the war to continue. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if she opened up to the bucket idea!
So, I went back to trying to catch them last night. My father-in-law caught 25 or so before it slowed down, so I could have a ways to go.
Last night was the first time I went back to setting the trap, but was unfortunately not able to catch any. The reason, heavy winds in the area that kept tripping the trap.
I’ll have to try again.
Let’s hope that we can ‘re-locate’ the chipmunks and save our flowers!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

So Much To Do Around The House

Have you ever noticed how there are times when things just seem to pile up around the house or all come due at once. Here are just a few things that are looking to be done around the Beagle household:

  • Stain the deck – With the help of my parents, I power washed it, but now I need about 72 hours of rain free time to get it done (48 before and 24 afterward). The Michigan weather has not been cooperative and may not be for a few more days.
  • Fix the sprinker head (part 2) – I noticed a sprinkler head that wasn’t getting a lot of pressure. I dug it out of the ground and noticed that it not very tightly connected. I tightened it and buried it, yet the pressure problem persists. I think there may be a problem with the line, which is a more tedious (and dirty) prospect.
  • Fix the toilet – I noticed last week that the toilet downstairs was running by itself every once in a while. After making sure that it wasn’t leaking onto the floor (which would be bad, since there are wood floors in that bathroom), I started the process to get the insides replaced. By this I mean that I started drying out the tank. I drained it and soaked up water, and now am letting things dry out. I’ve replaced the ‘guts’ of the toilets on numerous occasions, and the part that I’ve hated the most is how much water leaks out when you start taking everything apart. Hopefully I’ve minimized that this time!
  • Finish taping the ductwork – Over the winter, I started taping all the joints in the basement for the ductwork, as there is a lot of air leak when you add together, air that’s not getting to where you want it. I was able to get about 60% of it done, which was the stuff in the unfinished part of the basement. The remainder will be a bit more difficult, though, because it’s above ceiling tiles. I need to bite the bullet and get that finished up now that air conditioning season is upon us.
  • Do some painting – I want to paint the stairway to the basement and do some touch up work around the hallways, where things have gotten scuffed up over the past two years since we moved in.
  • Take stuff to the Salvation Army – There’s a growing pile of stuff in the middle of the garage that I need to donate.
  • Replace the step to the front porch – The step we have is slowly turning to gravel as it’s run it’s course. This isn’t difficult, but I need help to get the new step as well as a car that can handle it (most likely a van or SUV).

Lots going on but all part of the fun of having a house. Good things I enjoy doing things like this and knowing that I’ve helped keep our household in running order.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

A Tale Of Two Garbage Bins

I wrote a while back about our new garbage service. Well, it’s been in place for a little over a month and I have to say that it is working out great!
The city provided two bins, one is a 90-gallon trash bin and the other is a 65-gallon recycling bin. The new recycling program takes a LOT more stuff than I’ve ever seen. They take cardboard, all types of paper, plastic bags, and all plastics labeled 1-7. Most recycling programs I’ve seen take only those labeled 1 or 2.
Mrs. Beagle has led the charge in our house to be more conscious of recycling. As such, we have found that we’re recycling most of our stuff and the garbage is very empty. In fact, we wish that they would allow us to switch the bins and make the larger bucket the recycling bin, which would give us more room.

Needless to say, the recycling won, as it has been since we started using the program.
One of the cool things is that we participate in a program called RecycleBank. When you recycle you get points that you can then ‘cash in’ for coupons or gift cards for local or national retailers.
We average around 70 points per week so far. Some of the example rewards are:
  • 100 points will buy you a $10 off $30 purchase at Bed Bath & Beyond
  • 125 points will get you $6 off two dinner entres at Olive Garden
  • 1225 points will get you a $10 gift card at Applebee’s, Lowes, or Borders
These are just a few of the things that you can get. While the rewards do provide extra motivation, it is reward enough to know that we’re helping save some of our precious natural resources.
One thing that they have that’s really cool is a little indicator that adds up all of the recycling you’ve done and puts it in somewhat everyday terms. They have a widget available that I can add to my blog to automatically update the information but I need to work on fitting it into the site, as it was causing problems when I attempted to place it due to the size requirements. But, here’s what it tells me:
In the five weeks we’ve been part of the program:
We have saved 0.56 trees
We have saved 37.41 gallons of oil from being required to produce new materials
And the most fun statistic,
Our recycling to date weighs as much as….

A penguin!

How cool is that?
Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

What We Do To Make Things Greener

Today is Earth Day, and it gave me pause to reflect on things that we do around our household to be environmentally conscious:

  • Use CFL bulbs – Most lamps and overhead lights in our house have CFL bulbs. We just put a new lamp in the nursery the other day, and I insisted that we purchase a CFL bulb. Luckily, Meijer (our local grocery store) had them on sale for 50% off to celebrate Earth Day so on top of being good for the planet, we saved money too!
  • Use our energy saving washing machine – When we moved in, we debated whether to get the less expensive traditional washer or the more expensive energy and water saving washer. We opted for the more expensive type, and it definitely uses a lot less water and energy. In fact, it will probably pay for the difference many times over depending on the life of the machine.
  • Use reusable shopping bags for groceries – Not only do they reduce plastic consumption, the great thing about these is that they fit as much as normally goes in 2-3 plastic bags, so instead of lugging in 8 or 9 bags a week, we typically fit just about everything in our 3 reusable bags.
  • Use a programmable thermostat – We had one when we moved in, but if we hadn’t, I would have put one in anyways had there not been one.
  • Set the thermostat lower in the winter – We’ve dialed down to a maximum temperature of 68. While it can be colder, we have learned to make sure to keep our sweatshirts handy to bundle up.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle – Our city just began to participate in Recycle Bank, which was just featured on Oprah’s Earth Day show today. In addition to taking more types of products than any recycling program I’ve seen (as an example they take plastics 1-7, not just 1-2 like most recycling), they partner up with local and national merchants to offer rewards based on how much you recycle. As an example, you can ‘purchase’ gift cards to various restaurants or retailers like Target. They have a widget that keeps track of how much or recycling to date weighs, how many trees we’ve saved, and how many gallons of oil we’ve prevented used, but it was wreaking havoc on my site. Perhaps I’ll attempt to incorporate it when I re-design the site later in the spring.
  • Use containers for lunch – I take my lunch in a re-usable bag, and also have Rubbermaid containers for my sandwich, fruit, and carrots. We made the switch after realizing the cost, both to the environment and to our pocketbook, of using multiple plastic bags every day.
  • We added insulation to our attic – This reduces the amount of heat and air conditioning we need, and saves us money.
  • Borrow books from the library – Instead of buying lots of books that I read once, maybe twice, I’m using something that will get repeated use.
  • Wasting less food – We rarely let food go bad, wasting resources for food that’s never eaten. I used to be a lot worse at this when I was single and living alone.
  • I have a water bottle at work – I bought a stainless steel water that I re-fill at work instead of taking a bottle of water.

There is room for improvement. I would like to do other things as well, including:

  • Using natural fertilizer – I use the traditional fertilizer to keep our lawn green and weed free, but I’d like to switch to a more natural solution. Right now, they’re quite price prohibitive and not as effective, but I’m sure time will help with both of these.
  • Use more natural cleaners – Especially with baby on the way, some of the harsh cleaners are also not the best for the environment
  • Cut out paper towels – Right now, we use paper towel for cleaning and a lot of everyday usage. I hope that in a year from now I can say that we have drastically reduced our consumption of paper towel
  • Reduce our battery consumption – This one could be tough. We’re expecting the baby in a few weeks, and everything used to entertain the baby seems to run on batteries, and what I’m finding is that they all say not to use rechargeable batteries. I’m not sure why, but have started looking into this. I would dread having to buy the amount of batteries that I envision needing, only to have them be single use.

Overall I’m happy with our efforts to ‘go green’ though I know that there is a lot more that we could be doing.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.