Homestead Log 3: The Shit Storm

This past weekend we were at the homestead with my father-in-law to rip out the old vents in the homestead. We wanted to update them to modern vents because these were the old metal ones that had no insulation and had asbestos tape in places. We wanted more efficient vents to warm or cool the house.

At first in the negotiations the general contractor didn’t want to do that. We insisted. I told him it was a non-negotiable, and we would even take out the vents to save money — and well, we all know that saving them time and saving the buyer money is what we all aim to do. This finally got the agreement to redo the vents with us saving $3k by removing the old stuff ourselves.

This past weekend was that project, and boy are we glad we insisted on it.

I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it happen. But, I heard my normally stoic father-in-law yell, “Uuuuuuugggggh!” from about 30 feet away. I heard nothing from my husband that was there with him as they were taking out the old box that was at the terminus of the vents.

They were in the cellar with the cellar door open, I was in the garage putting together mouse bait stations with their poison. I stopped, listened for a heartbeat, and when I didn’t hear anything I ran over to make sure no one needed a hospital trip.

What I saw was two grown men, standing in shock, staring at the floor, as if they had just landed from jumping back. I could only see my father-in-law’s face and it had a look of pure disgust on it.

When I went down into the cellar, I asked what was going on, and he pointed to the floor and shrieked, “There was shit in the vent! LITERAL SHIT!!” He continued to mutter “literal shit” as he stomped off.

Travis added in stunned disgust, “It was a waterfall of shit….”

Jim, a neighbour, who cleaned up some of the house had told us there was dog shit everywhere. We just didn’t expect it to be in the vents.

As we cleared out the shafts, one by one, we heard desiccated turds rolling around in them. When we removed them, we were careful not to tip them and send any more turds tumbling down on us.

But there were dozens in every tube we carried from the basement out to the dumpster.

When we finally transitioned to removing the registers from above in the rooms, we discovered how the people attempted to live with the stench.

We found air freshners in every wall plugin which Jim said they put in to try to override the smell. But they had nothing to do with those at the top, but in the vents. We also found that they tried to wrap them with plastic wrap in effort to keep the scent down. Or the dog shit from going down them.

One of the two.

Who lives like that?

Jim and Hurvey, two neighbours, had told us that they abused their animals to the point where the animals would growl at their owners and bite them, then the couple would hit the animals. Apparently they never let them outside, either.

These people were seriously sick.

On top of removing the vents, we also got the lower cabinets out.

Cabinets — and more shit.

So, two things here.

You see the electrical cable coming out of the floor, which then goes back to the wall? It was plugged into an outlet downstairs in one of those old chain pull light and outlets. It runs the lights AND outlets on the wall. Hack job, but at least it was easy to disconnect for this project.

The second thing is see that white drain pipe? The floor around it was missing and went straight to the outside through a hole they made in the foundation to bring out the vent. Mice were coming up through there as if it was their front door with a welcome mat.

There was a nest under that base of the cabinets — and lots of mouse detritus everywhere under the cabinets.

And of course we heard more scurrying behind the wall as we ripped out the cabinets — which naturally prompted a bait station full of poison to be put down in that room before we left.

I’m glad we’re stubborn.

Yes, we are working with extremely tight budgets. We didn’t have much to put into this, but we picked our careful battles to stick to. I’m glad removing the cabinets and vents to put something more efficient and functional was part of it. We didn’t know there would be this much literal shit everywhere. Removing all this has removed things that would make us ill.

I hope next weekend doesn’t reveal any crazy surprises like this. We’re removing the upper cabinets, some more vinyl flooring, scraping chipped paint off window sills, and possibly dodging a falling kitchen ceiling. More on that in the next log when I find out what’s really going on with the sagging ceiling to the right of the windows.

I just hope it’s not as gross as waterfalls of faeces. Until then, I’m embracing the fact that it smelled much better after we removed the vents.