Corpse in the Crawlspace

Posted by Nick  | 08 Apr 2015  | 6 comments

You may have read that we recently discovered dead bodies in the attic… Well, over the long weekend we braved the darkness under the cottage, too, and corpses became a recurring theme. You’ll see.

We’ve known since we moved here that we’d eventually have to subject ourselves to the horrific job of cleaning out under the house. There’s an assortment of junk scattered haphazardly throughout all corners. How does this even happen?

Winter is approaching and we want to insulate underneath the exposed floorboards, so the time has come to clear it out.

It’s so dry under there that the dusty ground is easily disturbed – checklist item number one: A proper respirator. Amidst the dry ground there is a gauntlet of glass shards and sharp metal – checklist item number two and three: Knee-pads and gloves. There are too many small objects to be picked up by hand – checklist item number four: A rake. This is obviously a job for a sucker – checklist item number five: Me. Put these all together and what to you get? Why, this fine character, of course:

I may have fallen a little too deeply into the role of crawlspace warrior…

I wasn’t the only poser…

The process was fairly straight-forward, just very awkward – especially up the front of the cottage where there’s barely twenty centimetres between the joists and the ground. The chore of breathing through a respirator in such a tight space beckoned the demons of claustrophobia more than once.

I gathered larger objects in a bucket, and raked out all the little bits.

Along with the bits and bobs I raked out came a lot of loose dirt and leaves, which poor Char was relegated to sifting through. Extracting glass shards was most important, since we were going to dump the organic waste under some trees.

For anyone who thought the respirator was overkill, here’s evidence to the contrary:

Would rather not have that in my lungs.

After a couple of days crawling on all fours, the ground beneath the cottage was clear of debris, at least on the surface (who knows what’s buried beneath).

Take a look at all the junk we pulled out, holy moly:

It was separated (thanks to Char’s diligence) into piles of dirt/leaves, wood (to be used as kindling), metal, and inorganics consisting of bricks, glass, piping, and a range of other odd things. Weird and wonderful little things, too, like this collection of old bottles:

And when I say old, I mean almost a century old!

This bottle is the property of the Auckland Bottle Company Limited, Auckland N.Z 1921” 1921! That’s 94 years old that bottle! And when was the last time you saw “property of” on a bottle? How very strange. Most of these bottles, in fact, bear the mark that they were the “property” of their respective makers, but the bottle pictured above was the only one with a manufacturing date. Most of these old New Zealand bottle companies like A.B.C and G.L. Innes were absorbed by overseas giants like Schweppes in the 1950’s – 1960’s. It’s a shame the bottle is broken, as a quick search reveals that some of these “archaeological finds” go for a pretty penny. We’ll be holding on to these treasures nonetheless.

I wonder who drank from these bottles, what they had accomplished that day, what the area looked like back then, and what they yammered about with their companions as they took swigs of their refreshing beverage.

Another interesting find was a whole bunch of solitary shoes (and a mitten), each missing their partner. I have no idea how old these are, but a few have the soles nailed rather than glued, which is an indication of the era they were created in.

Some badly corroded batteries (likely laden with mercury), from a time when they came wrapped in cardboard:

A bouquet of rusted metal trinkets:

And a bunch a random… things:

One peculiar item dragged out from that tomb of a crawlspace is our very own mummified cat. Yep, I think this farm now qualifies as a museum.

The earth is so dry under the cottage that half of this poor moggy has been preserved. The skin is like tough leather and even some whiskers remain. I wonder how old she is, whether she was a beloved pet, or a feral seeking a dark shelter to pass away. Probably the latter seeing as no one reclaimed her for a send-off.

Well, I’m glad that task is done and dusted (excuse the pun). I had been dreading it. The “treasures” alone were worth the effort, and now we can return to the forsaken earth beneath the cottage with a lesser fear of being punctured by nasties such as these:

6 comments Leave a comment

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Charlotte, this must become your profile picture!


Haha, I second that!

George Shears
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When I first read the headline, I immediately anticipated a grisly whodunit mystery and imagined you and Char getting caught up in a complicated investigation by your version of our U.S. FBI. I was relieved in learning that you competently carried out the entire investigation on your own through your typical head-on, no nonsense, get ‘er done approach. I think you both deserve some special archaeology and entomology credits for all your rich learning through this endeavor. I’m guessing that your background in mindfully facing adversity served you well in this challenging undertaking, Nick.


Haha, maybe I go a bit overboard with these posts’ titles sometimes… Thanks for your kind comment, George – it’s all a bit of fun learning and investigating these new things. Certainly my mindfulness-in-training helps with any adversity, and they are aplenty on the farm!

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That mummified cat is one heck of a cool object.. I want one as decoration for the apartment! Unfortunately Séverine would undoubtedly be against it… I will content myself with taking down some sketches of your photos!


Isn’t it! That’d certainly be one morbid decoration… Reminds me of the old human skull on the philosopher’s desk. Sketches of my photos? You must show me! Thanks for the comment, Jetse – nice to hear from you 🙂

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