Please contact E. B. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
The Skunk and I
It started with a slight whiff of that distinctive unpleasant odor. I was eating lunch with my cousins on my patio. I thought maybe a skunk had become a victim of road kill the night before, and the wind was wafting our way. Then I noticed a small black face peering from a hole under the sunroom and realized it wasn't a dead skunk in the distance, but a live one much closer.
And thus began a long battle waged between that most unwelcome resident and me. I tried tossing mothballs in the hole and piling used kitty litter by its entrance. I even resorted to placing a boom box on the floor of the sunroom above its tunnel and turned it to rock music played at full blast while I escaped to the furthest garden to weed. I quit the music route after an hour. Even getting rid of the skunk wasn't worth the torture to my ears.
My next ploy was to wait until it had been dark several hours; giving it time to leave on its nocturnal foraging hunt. Then I put a large cement block in front of the hole. I'd show it! The next morning a fresh hole had been dug under the sunroom nearby. But I was not to be defeated. I took pieces of old fencing and placed them on the ground butting up against the foundation anchoring them with heavy bricks. I covered all three sides of my sunroom leaving only the skunk's hole open. That night I blocked the hole. It worked, but it left a defiant calling card to let me know it wasn't happy with me.
Months later in the fall, I heard a sound almost like purring in my living room wall near the front door. Raccoon, I assumed. So I set my Have-a-Heart trap on the front porch baited with cat food. The first morning I discovered Harry Potter, my very unhappy barn cat. The next day it was a neighbor's cat. I caught nothing for several nights, and then one morning I peeked out and saw something black in the cage. A skunk. Major problem. I needed to leave for school in less than an hour. What was I to do with a trapped skunk? Extremely nervous, but not to be daunted, I put on my oldest clothes, went to the barn for a wheelbarrow and an old blanket, and came slowly around the corner of the house. I held the blanket in front of me while peeking around the edge so I wouldn't fall against the cage, and when I got close enough, I threw the blanket over the cage. With heart racing the whole time, I put the cage in the wheelbarrow and went as fast as I could with the wheelbarrow bumping up and down. Around the house, through the back yard, past the barn, through a large grassy area, I rushed. When I'd passed the pond and was close to the woods, I stopped and carefully lifted the covered cage out of the wheelbarrow and placed it on the ground. Darn! When I peeked, the door was facing towards the house. I turned it around with heart still beating quickly and fumbled under the blanket to open it. It doesn't work as smoothly to release a skunk as it does a cat, believe me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the critter left, not in a skunk's normal slow meandering gait, but like a race horse released from the starting gate as it headed for the woods. I was triumphant woman!
On Christmas Day the house was redolent with the smell of roast turkey, ham and other goodies. I was expecting nearly twenty people for dinner. My daughter, Susan, her husband, Mike, and my two little grandkids, Emilie and Jacob, were the first to arrive. Hugs and kisses and the little ones were squealing with excitement and telling me what Santa had brought them. It was then that my enemy exacted its revenge. From under the front porch, apparently awakened by the delicious smells, my enemy sprayed. That Christmas we had a mixture of smells competing. Eventually, although it's hard to believe, we became slightly immune to it. A few nights later while I was reading and listening to quiet music, the skunk let go again. Obviously, I couldn't put up with this any longer. My house reeked, my clothes held the odor of skunk so when I went places like to a doctor's appointment or to school, people moved away from me. Washing my clothes didn't help because the house was permeated with it.
So I located a trapper willing to come. He managed to catch several possoms and a raccoon from under the porch, but not a skunk. He surmised the skunk had been disturbed by his fellow roomies and that was why it sprayed. After several weeks, he figured the skunk had moved on so he blocked the entrance, and I wasn't bothered with the critter again. The following summer, my son saw a skunk come out of the woods in broad daylight. It was staggering and weaving. Obviously, it had something wrong with it. Maybe rabies so he shot it. It was heading for my house. I thought of the line from Robert Frost's The Death of the Hired Man. "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in." Was the skunk coming home to die? Did it believe it would be safe here? Or was it planning its final revenge?
What interesting animal experiences have you had? Pleasant or unpleasant?