I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, gentle reader; the bat man quoted us $6,400 for bat removal in the barn. That’s just the barn, not the house, which was another $5,000. That’s just the bat removal, not the clean-up, which The Man said he’d do himself. I want you to think about that for a while.
Now, I get it. Sort of. They give a guarantee, and they’re building the return visits into the upfront cost. But…still. Even were we made of money, this number would give us pause, but we are, most assuredly, not made of money. Something needs to be done, though. So…what?
The bat man scared the crap out of us (which is his job, I’ll grant you) with a few pertinent facts about bat guano. It can be differentiated from mouse, rat or squirrel poop by crushing said poop. Bat guano, you see, turns to dust, and its propensity for turning to dust makes it airborne, and all the more dangerous. His tales of the ability of bat guano dust to shred lung tissue had us on the edge of our seats.
The Man and I both have asthma to manage, and there are chronic sinus infections and intermittent bronchitis thrown in there, for good measure. Then there’s the health of the animals to consider. We needed a workable plan. The Man, brilliantly, I thought, proposes the following:
He’s going to buy a large, HEPA-filtered industrial vacuum, the kind used specifically for this kind of work. We will, before any other work is done up there, vacuum out the existing guano, using a breathing mask, eye protection, and a HazMat suit. I am not even kidding. The guano will be buried in the third field. I hear it makes great fertiliser. The second floor will then be spritzed down with a fine mist of water, to settle the dust, before a final vacuum of the whole floor.
After removal of junk, the floor will then be washed with a water/bleach solution. When it has dried thoroughly, we will lay down a layer of heavy black plastic and fix it to the floor, preserving its cleanliness. The Man will then erect a high plastic tarp, tent like, along the peak of the roofline of the back section of the barn. This is where the bats…what? roost? perch? hang? as the guano is in a line below. We will not attempt to evict the bats this year, but we will clean up before they arrive and erect a system to prevent the fall of guano back onto the barn floor.
The tent structure will allow us to safely store things up there. We will spend the spring and summer watching where the bats go in and out, and mark those spots for reference. Next fall, after they leave, we can remove the overhead tent (and the accompanying guano) fairly easily before storing hay. (And, yes, we know it is preferable to store hay in a separate building. We’re working toward that.) Throughout next winter and early spring 2014, we can patch up the holes we know of, re-erect the tent in time for spring. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It will be a labourious, long-term job, but it won’t cost the moon.