Here on the farm, we experience all kinds of guests: the neighbors who need our help-or a listening ear, feed and seed sales people, agronomists, grain buyers, fuel delivery people, salesmen selling aerial pictures of our farm and well-dressed people who want us to be saved.
But this particular guest was really a stinker.
It was quite your average Monday. We were in the process of building a new home, so my husband had been spending a little time over there as the construction project continued.
I called him up that morning, and before we got very far into the conversation, I heard him tell someone, “Watch out-there’s a skunk down there, so don’t get him mad.”
Oh. My. Goodness.
Horrified, I asked him to clarify, and he affirmed that it was true. A skunk had found its way into the basement. With the house under construction and fairly open, we don’t know if he made himself at home and walked down the living room steps during the night or if he had fallen into the 10-foot hole that would someday be steps leading to the basement from the garage.
Either way, he was there for the duration, and so was the problem.
Amazingly, there were no volunteers to approach the skunk from behind and try to grab it behind the head, since we heard they couldn’t spray in that situation.
So we had to do the best we could from above to avoid a foul-smelling, skunk-driven stand-off that would have matched anything ever done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
We could have used any of those three commodities to help us through all that trauma.
During this process, it was plain to see that I would not have made the kind of pioneer woman I’d always thought I could have been. I was not brave enough to go head-on with this oversized rodent.
It gave me the willies just to look at it that close. And seeing it walk around in our new house that we hadn’t even lived in yet? Man, oh man.
My husband first tried the plan of funneling some exhaust fumes down to it for a time, but had no luck. We heard that brake cleaner inhalation would work, but still no luck.
Our guys fixed up a live trap and lowered it into the hole, and the skunk brazenly walked in and out of it in an outright display of righteous haughtiness laughing at our apparent ignorance in the ways that skunks think.
They also lowered a pie pan into the stairwell hole – the pan containing some cola and fly bait – the miracle potion which keeps racoons from robbing sweetcorn patches.
We went over there for the last time at 10 o’clock that night to check on the status of the skunk, but it was still walking around. Amazingly, it had not sprayed all day long.
That in itself was a miracle, since we were sure he was as unhappy about being among us as we were that he had taken up residency there before we even had a chance to put up the mailbox.
We left, dejected and defeated by an animal that was much smaller than us, but who had far more power to keep lecherous relatives and zucchini-bearing neighbors away than we did.
The next morning – to our relief – the skunk was lifeless, the pan of magic potion nearly half gone.
The skunk had finally been skunked. A scoop shovel hauled it away, powered by much braver hands now that it was closer to becoming turkey vulture food.
Unbelievably through it all, our house remained unscathed in the ways of foul odors. I wish I could say that for what awaits it in the future.
The laundry scent isn’t very fresh come lambing and calving time. But at least we’ll expect that.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com.
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