The Valentine skunk

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Once upon a time, for Valentine's Day, my friend Shirley got a skunk.

No, not a stuffed one. A real live one.

It was found in the barn in a cage on Valentine's Day.

The cage was left there by her husband, who was trying to catch a bandit raccoon, not a skunk.

It seems Shirley had gone outdoors to feed the barnyard animals and the two cats. Her husband wasn't home, so the feeding of the animals was her charge. In fact, this happened three years ago during the big ice storm power outages.

She bent over to put food in the cat bowl and saw something dark and white in the cage, just two or three feet from her.

She backed up immediately, ran to the house and phoned her son. "There's a skunk in the barn," she yelled.

"Well, don't go in the barn," was his sage advice. He told her he was on his way home and would be there right away. Then Shirley called a neighbor who dispatched her husband and two sons to the rescue.

The husband, a preacher, cautiously tied a long rope to the back of the cage and slowly drug it outside in the open field. His two sons made sure they weren't in the line of fire.

An angry skunk is nothing to be bargained with, as my friend learned a few years ago. In that incident, the upset skunk let go with its foul smelling spray, which covered her concrete porch just outside her kitchen door. She battled that odor for days and days and could not get rid of the putrid smell that permeated everything, including the wood pile, and seeped inside her house. She burned incense candles for days to rid the house of the rank odor. To this day there's a permanent mark on the concrete where the angry skunk squirted its vile smelling fluid.

But back to the Valentine's Day skunk.

As the preacher and his sons and my friend's son tried to determine what direction the wind was coming from, the preacher continued to turn the cage this way and that with the boys moving safely behind.

They knew that a skunk can squirt the fluid up to10 feet with good aim.

Shirley watched the proceedings from a far away distance.

Eventually, the skunk was released into the open field.

That same day, after the Valentine's Day commotion, my friend was resting in her favorite recliner. She looked out and saw a donkey in her front yard. It registered that the donkey shouldn't be there. It had escaped the fenced pasture where it usually stayed.

She went outdoors, then realized that all the donkeys had escaped and were in the street about a block from the house. She ran toward them and began calling their names. She knew they would know her voice and might follow her, like the Pied Piper.

They did. They stampeded her, but she managed to get them safely behind the gated area. Except for the baby donkey. It just wanted to be petted and wouldn't move, like a tree planted by the water.

After that, it became musical chairs while Shirley tried to move some animals into various areas. I really don't know why. but she wanted some of the animals in the corral, some in the barn, and some in the pasture. The animals wouldn't cooperate until she bribed them with bread or corn or hay. I think there was a horse involved named Billy Bob or something like that.

"I never wanted to be a farmer," she said, wearily.

"I'm retiring from animals," she said. "I don't even like animals."

She said that when she phoned her husband to tell him about the skunk episode, he just laughed and laughed some more.

"I think I'm retiring from husbands too," she added.

She didn't want all that commotion for Valentine's Day.

She just wanted a box of candy.