July! How it got here, we will never know (but it likely had something to do with logging 30 days in June)…

This Independence Day weekend saw the official, official end to Paul’s asparagus season (so sorry, adoring asparagus eating friends!), and it meant that the vegetable gardens were getting a good spruce up. Despite the pressing work, we were all cognizant of the holiday, and continued to be so grateful to live in a wonderful country which allows us the freedom to pursue our happiness. For us, a large part of this is to be able to peacefully cultivate and enjoy our small corner of the earth.

Lest all be thought too idyllic, however, we were also reminded that we share this small corner of the earth with other creatures who are also seeking their own happiness. The happiness seeking creature of the week was a beautifully stylish mephitis mephitis–Latin for “stinky stinky,” or “skunk.” Our attention was drawn to this small, resourceful creature, when the Indian Runner Ducks’ daily egg count dropped precipitously. First suspected were the Guinea fowl who were accused of adopting one of the foulest (pardon the pun) of habits–egg eating. But shortly thereafter a late night corralling of the ducks found that I’d corralled not just the poultry, but also an exceptionally white and swooshy skunk we named “Silky.” Silky stomped his feet at me and flagged his tail a bit before squeezing out an outrageously small hole and disappearing into the night. What at first was just an exciting night at the duck pen devolved into something far more sinister when we realized that said Silky had taken up residence below the feed bins in the barn. This was initially merely an interesting problem, but it quickly became apparent that it merited rapid response when the dachshund and the beagle nearly grabbed Silky and he retaliated with a good dousing of skunk perfume. Time and place, Silky!

Although the boys thought this would be a fabulous opportunity to shoot up the barn, Paul graciously loaned us a large live trap which we duly baited with duck eggs and marshmallows (the latter also the brainchild of the kids who had learned this to be a favorite mephitis mephitis menu item). Thus we set a trap on Independence Day.

And the day after…we had a skunk in a box. After munching down the eggs and all of the marshmallows (the kids were right!), Silky patiently awaited the foolish humans’ next move.

We had no more moves, so we Googled for options.

It seems that skunks are perhaps the most dreaded of backyard wildlife, and consequently people feel liberated to dispatch them in whatever way possible. Stories of carnage abound–shootings, drownings, acetone injections, and one Einstein who reported that because skunks are nocturnal, he left it in the sunshine which ultimately killed the beast. Silky was hopeful that we’d find other options! Learning that although skunks can travel 1-4 miles per night, they are not territorial (and after checking for babies in the nest, which thankfully were not there), we draped the trap with an old horse blanket (skunks won’t spray if they don’t have an ascertainable target, apparently) and set off for the woods beyond the upper pasture. Silky, perhaps realizing this was far better than his other options, rode along quietly and did not make a ruckus or a stinkus.

We placed the trap with Silky in the forest beyond a rock wall, which I chummed liberally with duck eggs, then cracked open the door. After a moment of hesitation, Silky squeezed out and made tracks for the deeper forest. Apparently skunks are not vindictive animals, because he never lifted his tail nor looked back.

Time will tell if Silky takes advantage of this new life or if he heads back to the barn, but we’re hopeful. Seeing his fancy self heading off so deliberately into the woods made us happy. Skunks are relatively gentle creatures with a big stick. May Silky find his American dream in the forests. We’ll be cheering for him.

Happy Independence to all! Cherish your freedoms, and remember to grant others’ theirs. God bless America!

Deanna Nelson

Deanna Nelson

A barrister by day, Deanna won’t be giving up her day job, yet she enjoys nothing more genuinely than being in the woods or relishing the beauty of Zoar Road and surrounding environs with this tight-knit community and her three children.
Deanna Nelson

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