Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Woolfins and the Dog

The little darlings seem to have settled in. Not without having another go inside here last night though. Somebody got into the lobster pate' that was left over from cocktail hour and ate it all! The empty dish was still in the fridge! The remaining cracked wheat crackers were gone as well. The empty box was on the floor in front of the fridge. Another sock has disappeared and I had to look for two hours to find my cell phone ... which had been turned off! By that that time I was dreaming up Woolfin recipes.

They're all free now, and seem to have taken residence in the doghouse. They've been hiding all day because it's been raining. Woolfins hate to get wet. That hurricane must have really degraded them ... poor things. Not only do they get so heavy they can no longer move quickly, but after they tend to stink. Not a very pleasant odor either. There's no polite way to describe it but it just smells like wet sheep. The weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow so hopefully I'll be able to get a couple of shots of them in their new digs, where they can come and go as they please, and there's plenty of forested land to roam about in.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recapture Update

Well, I've had an interesting, if somewhat frustrating time of it, but a couple of new patterns have emerged. Perhaps I should have let the little buggers go earlier.

First of all, I spotted Felix up a tree. He proved a bit too agile for me while he was over my head, but since it was a skinny tree, I was able to shake him out of it. Unfortunately, he missed my net, and immediately found refuge in the woodpile. It was there that I captured him using the highly classified method. Using Felix as bait, (I had him tethered on 20lb. test mono filament) I was able to lure in Chick and Ellie. Basil followed eventually.

The few days of freedom they had enjoyed was enough to make them unhappy while in captivity. One of the most lethal of Woolfin ailments, unhappiness, should be avoided at all costs. I have lost several to this condition and it is always better to release them than to have them die. I'm not an ogre, after all. I have become rather attached to them lately.

The decision was made to let them go. I wasn't very happy about it, but have come to realize that I can still study them as they no longer have any fear of me. And studying needs to be done, because the second phenomenon I've noticed in all of the turmoil of late, is that they seem to love the new doghouse my husband built for Daisy, our spoiled dog. Since she's always with one of us, Daisy is rarely in her house. The Woolfins love the place. Even when she is at home, she's been taught to leave the Woolfins alone, so she doesn't seem to mind sharing. After all, there's lots of room.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scoundrels on The Loose

Terrible things have taken place here. This morning my husband and I arose to find that our captive Woolfins have gotten loose in the night and wrecked havoc! The mess is unbelievable! All the wastepaper baskets have been upended and their contents strewn throughout the house! Tissue shredded everywhere, all over the carpets and up and down the hallways. Cardboard roll centers literally chewed to bits and wet wads of paper in little piles. In the midst of all this, sat our adorable, well behaved and perfectly trained dog, leashed securely to our heavy European coffee table, with the saddest look I've ever seen. I'm sure she thought she'd be blamed for all this. However, it was obvious that she'd had nothing to do with it, except possibly watch. I'm sure she feels she's failed her duties, but what could she have done, being ganged up on like that.
The worst is that all my captive Woolfins have escaped. They will be hard to recapture, but I know they're nearby, laughing at us. They're a little more wiley now, and know that I'll be after them, so the utmost stealth will be necessary.
It's not easy being a Woolfin Hunter!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wild Woolfins Have Migrated!

Hurricane Juan liberated the Woolfins from Georges Island, but our own transportation habits have caused further migration to other parts of the country. You see, the hurricane blew across central Nova Scotia basically following the TransCanada Highway, before it blew across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. By the time it reached there, the Woolfins had pretty much all been dropped out of the high winds. Most folk don't even know they have them in their homes, as they tend to dwell between the studs, behind the gyproc, inside furniture, under stairs, in the back of closets and in the attic.

Many families have relocated and innocently taken the Woolfins along with them to their new homes. The evidence of the little devils have been reported as far away as Montreal. Yes, Jean-Guy, I'm afraid you have Woolfins. By the way, they don't like peanut butter. You're more apt to get squirrels with that. Right now, we know that their only natural enemy is wool moths, which they can deal with themselves by stealing your mothballs. Go ahead and check. If half the box is missing, you likely have Woolfins. They're smarter than they look and can get mothballs even if you don't have any. Does that faint odor of camphor late at night ring a bell?

I'm afraid Woolfins will soon be a way of life for all of us. The world is so small these days with the availability of air travel. We ship goods all over the globe so it is only a natural progression that they will spread to every country, every home eventually. Only the tropics are safe from them. They prefer a cooler climate.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Discovering Woolfin Habits

Getting used to the fact that we were sharing our house with other wildlife wasn't so bad, since we've had our share of squirrels, mice, raccoons and skunks around here. Getting used to the fact that regular traps weren't working and wondering what was sneaking around here was a bit harder to take. We knew we had something new, but it took alot of ingenuity to identify the Woolfins and even more creativity to catch one. It took years but I've come up with a method to trap them live and currently I have five in captivity. They're easy to keep, since they eat dryer lint, dust bunnies and pet hair. However, they won't mate while kept in cages, nor are they happy. I believe they easily die of broken hearts but they just tend to disappear when this happens. No trace is ever found of their remains. Perhaps the others consume them or perhaps they turn into another wire coat hanger in your closet. I've had quite a few of those turn up, unexplained. One thing that does make them happy is socks. They absolutely love socks. They devour these treats so fast it is almost unbelievable. Throw a sock in with them and a feeding frenzy ensues. It's amazing to watch and explains why I lose so many socks after doing the laundry. The wild Woolfins will take them right out of the dryer overnight. They never take a pair though, and I now have a drawer full of miss matches, which makes a good treat supply for my little friends. I have also observed that they love coffee cream. They won't open a new carton, but if there's one in the fridge with just a little left, they'll steal the cream and leave the empty carton in the fridge. The same goes for liquor. Leave a bit left over in a bottle and in the morning it will be gone. There's no 'hair of the dog' for a fix-me-up.
I'm bound by the Canadian government to keep my trapping methods under wraps for now, until they determine whether the Woolfins are a threat to mankind. I rather doubt it, but if they plan to turn them loose on the Taliban, they better start working on ways to control them as they're not very obedient.

After the Storm

Daylight was a long time coming that day, but when the sun finally arrived and I looked around the yard, I was shocked at the power of the storm the night before. There were broken trees everywhere. Those not broken off were generally pulled up by the roots. Debris scattered from God knows where covered all the yards in the area. Dirt, mud and torn leaves covered the sides of the houses, the windows and everything else. There was strange fluffy stuff all over ... something like the seeds that fall from the poplar trees, or dandelions, but it was the wrong time of year. Clearly some kind of vegetation though. I didn't give it much thought as I made my way around the fallen debris and headed for the city to collect my husband from the ship. The rain had started again so surely it would rinse some of the mess off the houses. We were in for the big job of cleaning up the mess. Powerless and without water for ninety-six hours, it never occurred to us that we and others like us were being invaded by naughty little creatures who, through no fault of their own, had been scattered far and wide, and were simply looking for warm places to live. All in all, we were lucky the weather remained warm for the next week and it was a bit like camping out as we did our best to clean up our properties. The whole time we were working, we were oblivious to our new housemates. When things started going missing, we simply thought we were getting very absent minded in the wake of the tragedy of the hurricane. Perhaps our age was catching up with us and we just couldn't remember where we were putting things down. We literally spent a month blaming each other for hiding the car keys until we realized that someone, or something was messing around with us. Woolfins!

Escape from Georges Island

It was a dark and stormy night .... ok, that sounds corny but it's the truth. It was shortly after midnight on the 29th of October, 2003. We had all been warned. We had all ignored the warnings as we'd heard them for years and pretty much nothing ever happened except a bit of rain and a big blow. However, this was a night to remember; one I don't ever want to repeat. It was the night Hurricane Juan laid waste to Nova Scotia while we all cowered in our basements in disbelief. I was home alone as my husband was at sea, working with the offshore oil project. His ship had made a run into port just ahead of the storm and was tied up at Woodside, in Dartmouth, just across the harbor from Georges Island. During the height of the storm, his ship had to start their engines and run the props to keep the vessel against the wall because the lines tying it up kept breaking. Some of the highest winds of the storm were recorded at Georges Island.
As the winds whipped around the metro area and flattened most of the massive trees in Point Pleasant Park, strange events were taking place on Georges Island. Parts of the old bunkers collapsed, opening tunnels to the elements. The Woolfins now had a way out. Since they are very lightweight, they didn't stand a chance in the high winds. The ever changing directions of the gale plucked them out of their safe, comfortable dens and scattered them far and wide, following the path of the hurricane as it cut a swath through the central portion of the province. About an hour after the storm made landfall near Halifax, it hit here at home with a vengence. Large maple trees were uprooted and broken to bits. Silos were torn off barns. I cowered in fear inside my house, in the dark, without power, praying that my windows didn't implode from the force of the tempest. Little did I know that a curious new lifeform was populating my neighborhood. The Woolfins were on the move!

Evolution of the Woolfins

Since 1749, Georges Island, in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia, has been inhabited by military personnel. This island has seen two and a half centuries of various activity related to the protection of the city of Halifax. The island even hosted a prison at one time. Due to the primative conditions, the labyrinth of tunnels, the storage and decay of supplies and organics, a primordial soup existed in conditions that were just right for these little creatures to evolve. We don't exactly know when they came to life, but we had heard about them for years from visitors to the island, who were at times, somewhat less than believable. They became a legend. Not called Woolfins, but oft referred to as ghosts, spirits or apparitions, the supernatural has always been blamed for strange goings on over on that island. It has mostly been closed to the public for safety reasons but I have been fortunate to visit with special permission, in order to continue my research.

The creatures were only described physically after they left Georges Island. While they were there, they were successful in eluding human detection. Now we know they are very small. No more than a foot tall, they are fuzzy little critters with large heads, bulging eyes and long, thin limbs. They have a humanoid appearance and some would think they're cute and cuddly. However they're not to be trusted. Although we don't know much about their propagation and mating habits, we have been able to tell there are two distinct types that would be somewhat gender specific to male and female. They don't behave in captivity as they do in the wild, but one of the drawbacks of studying them is that my home is now infested with the little buggers, so I know first hand just how naughty they can be. However, I getting ahead of myself. My next post will describe how the Woolfins got off Georges Island and spread throughout the central portion of Nova Scotia.