One evening just before Christmas, we all stepped out into the dooryard. Aly, first out the door, stumbled when a walking stick fell into the cabin as she opened the door. It sits in the corner of the arctic entryway, just outside the front door. It seemed odd that it would fall, but we were all in a bit of a hurry, so we didn’t linger over it.
When we turned back to the cabin, we immediately noticed a gaping hole, about the size of a softball, at the bottom of the screen door.
A perimeter breach!
Suddenly, the falling walking stick seemed more ominous. It and the other items leaning in that corner had been disturbed, perhaps as something scrambled up the logs toward the tiny attic space above the porch.
We didn’t want to explore the attic that night, and we never found any other evidence of disturbance. The screening bent in ways that indicated both ingress and egress. Even so, our paranoia level spiked for a day or two. Spice, who adores visiting the porch to hunt rodents and watch birds, suddenly lost interest in going out there for a while.
I suspect our house breaker is a marten. This animal, which, after the wolverine is the most illusive and robust of our local mustelids, is about the right size, temperament, and personality to make such a hole in our door. In September 2012, we “hosted” a marten overnight (see Pandemonium on the Porch). Michelle left a bowl of cat kibble on the porch for Spice, and the marten enlarged a tiny hole in the screen to enter. They’re intelligent (and cussedly tenacious) enough to come back looking for more hand outs after all this time.
A rescreening of that door is more than a year overdue. Next spring we’ll repair the damage; in the meantime we’ll block it with cardboard—not to prevent the marten from re-entering—it couldn’t, but to keep Spice from getting outside.
This morning at 4:30 we awoke to noises on the porch. I booted and coated up, Michelle handed me the fire poker, and I went out to meet our visitor. As I had suspected, we had a marten, a sleek and beautiful creature! I opened the door and guided it out with the poker. Then, foolishly, I went back to bed. The marten returned within five minutes!
The cardboard allowed it to enter, then closed the hole. The first time, it panicked. The second time, it lifted the cardboard and stepped through.
A family council will consider options later today. I know from my brother and sister-in-law’s experience with a house breaking marten at a lodge they keep some winters that little short of steel plate and heavy rivets will keep it off the porch if it decides it likes coming in!