28 walnuts and 4 mummies
We are renovating again. The sunroom above our front porch is a great room which we had been using as a TV room. It had a few issues though. Crappy windows, old carpet, poor insulation and powder blue paint throughout. Need I say more.
The plan was to remove some of the trim on the inside to get a look at the framing so we could measure for new casement windows. I have done my fair share of old house renovating, helping my Dad renovate the houses I grew up in, and now two of my own. I am pretty confident in what I am doing and have seen a fair amount of unconventional construction. This sunroom caught me by surprise. There was no framing between the windows. Nothing. The windows themselves were structural. After much panic, I called a long time trusted friend Ed Harder. He is the guy who built my studio. He came over and assured me it was managable and was even a bit of an advantage because now I could frame it how I wanted - to maximize windows. After talking it through, I regained my confidence.
The next step was to finish gutting it. There was some nasty blown in fiberglass insulation in a few of the wall cavities below the windows, and a false drywall ceiling. The original ceiling was T&G decking and looked quite nice... except for a previous owners decorative plastering. The 70's must have been rough. Once I got to the original ceiling it started getting interesting. First off, there was an odd odor that appeared periodically. That was missed clue number one. The second clue - was a walnut dropping on my head.
It all came back to me. When we bought the house, we had a new steel roof put on, the sofits, facia and eves troughs done, and all the gable ends redone in cedar. When the guys were doing the sunroom, they commented on the squirrel population living in the roof. From this point on, I went a lot slower anticipating the worst. Three T&G boards, and a higher percentage of walnuts later - squirrel No.1 appeared. It was a perfectly mummified adult squirrel, cozied up against a joist. Scooped him up, bagged him and continued on. I found more walnuts and two more mummies in the next hour. when I had the ceiling out, I figured I was done with the mummies, but I found a forth curled up above the sofits in a corner. Most of the space is now gutted, except for the window frames which will come out once a temporary wall is built to support the roof.
I did find a treasure in the ceiling - an old toy chicken. I also kept a few of the cut nails that were in some of the T&G boards.
PS - there were no squirrels in the chicken.