Tonight at the barn I chased a bumble bee around the lounge and trapped him in a cup and set him free outside. Mom looked at me and snorted and said, "And you were going to kill a skunk. With a shovel."
I said, "Yeah, well, the bee hadn't pissed me off yet!" And then, "You know I wasn't really going to whack that skunk with a shovel, right?"
She laughed and said, "Oh, yeah. I know."
Yes, Mom knows me well.
The truly amazing thing about the whole skunk event was that my sister and brother-in-law live right up the hill from the barn and somehow managed to sleep through the whole fiasco-- shouting, screaming, beagling, and all. This was fortunate for Pepe because my sister would have blown him away in about 2 seconds and gone right back to bed. Notice I said my sister, not my brother-in-law! The poor men in this family sometimes lament the fact that the women run the show around here but, as I often point out to my dad, it's all his fault. My mom likes to tell the story that in the first year of their marriage the car broke down and she didn't know what to do. She called the airline and they patched her through to the tower, who patched her through to the cockpit of my dad's plane as he was sitting on the tarmac, waiting to taxi down the runway. Apparently you don't call an airline pilot in the plane unless someone is in the hospital or dead because he said, "Are you kidding?! I thought it was an emergency! Deal with it!" So, yep, his job managed to create a bunch of women who can deal with it. Most of the time, anyway. Hell, I once had a boyfriend give me a machete for Valentine's Day and that pleased me more than the jewelry, if that tells you anything. But that still doesn't mean I want to shoot and kill a little critter, even a skunk, so I guess it all worked out ok in the end. I could have done without the loss of sleep, however!
Thankfully, though, we don't get that many skunks here. Dad killed a rabid one when I was in high school. When I was in college we had a mama skunk that lived down in a burrow under a tree not far from the barn, but she rarely made a nuisance of herself. One year when the nieces were little we were all gathered together one evening to celebrate Mother's Day and my mom looked outside and saw this mama skunk taking her kittens out for a walk. She had them all in a line and they were walking up the fence line toward the back pasture. Mom, sister and I of course hurried the girls out onto the back porch to see the babies. The next thing I know my dad is standing next to me with the rifle to his shoulder, sighting in on the skunks with the scope. I leaned over and whispered, "You're not really going to shoot that mama skunk in front of her babies and your grandchildren on Mother's Day, are you?"
He looked a bit surprised, looked down at these two little blonde girls with their big brown eyes and said, "Ah, no, I was just trying to get a better look at them."
I said, "Perhaps the binoculars would be a bit less traumatic?"
I think it was the next year we discovered that mama skunk had wandered onto the neighbor's property and earned herself a trip to heaven and we had a whole litter of orphaned baby skunks on our hands. They'd apparently gotten hungry because they’d come out of the den and were wandering around under their tree, I suppose looking for food. Mom made a few phone calls to see what to do about it and was erroneously told by someone who should have known better that baby skunks don't spray. So I drag my boyfriend-at-the-time down with a cat carrier to rescue this litter of four babies. He as a good redneck boy and absolutely pitched a fit about that!
"I know they're cute now," he said, "But they're just going to grow up to be skunks!"
"Well, we don't kill baby things around here," I told him as I was scooping up little black and white balls of fluff and shoving them in the cat carrier.
"Well, I'm not riding in the car with a bunch of skunks," he informed me.
"Then it's a good thing it's a pretty day. Enjoy your walk back to the house," I said.
He did get back in my little Mustang with me and the babies, but he wasn't real happy about it. Now, we were very confident that baby skunks didn't spray because we had it from a “reliable” source, so we put them out on the screen porch off my mother's bedroom since that was the only place where the cats couldn't get to them and mess with them. For two days we fed them and played with them-- my nieces were all over those kittens, practically loving the fur right off of them-- and they never once sprayed. Mom found a wildlife rehabilitator who agreed to take them and raise them. This nice lady worked at a vet's office about an hour away and so my dad, dressed up in his pilot's uniform, took them with him on his way to the airport (an hour in the car with four baby skunks, mind you) and dropped them off to her. She called later that night to tell my mom that she hadn't had them there for long when they sprayed all over everything and the vet sent her home with them! Oh my goodness, if they'd sprayed on my dad on his way to the airport for a trip (or on the porch outside their bedroom, or all over my nieces…)! We'd have NEVER heard the end of that!
That was probably a good 10 years ago, though, so I suppose we were due for another skunk invasion. I'm just immensely grateful that Pepe seems to have gone very far away because I haven't smelled even a whiff of him/her again!
Oh, and just for fun....
Here's a picture I found of my sister's cat, Georgie's friend Ozzy. You can understand the dear boy's confusion when he saw the skunk:
(and, yes, he was named after Ozzy Osbourne-- because that's just how sister rolls!)
And a couple pictures of dear, goofy George showing off his belly dots: