What is the deal with all of the skunks lurking around my place?
Life on the farm is wonderful, most of the time. But farms are not known to smell like a rose. They are known for an earthy, pungent fragrance. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is often quite comforting and pleasant.
Lately, though, our place has an unusually strong odor. My children noticed it. My wife, who has a sensitive nose that I’m sure could help in national security on some level, also noticed it. And the odor wafting from our bins and barns is hard to ignore, although it should not surprise me one bit.
The skunk smell we are enduring right now has lasted longer and been stronger than ever on our farm. We have been surrounded by skunks in recent months. It began last fall when we noticed a black and white tail protruding from the auger tube in one of our grain bins. Not knowing how to handle this dilemma, I called in reinforcements. An experienced farming neighbor came over and risked his own fragrance and favor in his household to place a board to block the tube from the inside, so the skunk would have to vacate the tube outside of the bin.
Then, a few days later, I left a well hole uncovered overnight where one of our well pumps is located, because I had been working on the pump. In the morning, I discovered two skunks had set up shop in the bottom of the hole near the pump. My work there subsided for several days until the skunks left the premises.
I hadn’t seen any skunks around all winter long until just the other day. When I opened the barn door to feed our herd of barn cats, I noticed that now-familiar black and white striped tail scurrying around a corner.
The cats paid no attention to this addition to their ranks, but I fed them quickly and left the barn. Lately I’ve been feeding the cats outside of the barn and I haven’t noticed the skunk inside.
I’m beginning to think skunks are just attracted to me. When I was in high school, we spent our winter months trapping game along West Bow Creek and selling the furs for a little spending money. We trapped mink, muskrats and beavers. We tried trapping raccoons, red fox and badgers, but in the traps we set for those critters, we usually caught skunks.
You can’t free a skunk from a trap without the animal becoming a little irritated. So, the odor prevailed across the countryside and our traps had to be burned in order to remove the smell.
Most of the time, I truly enjoy the odor of our farm. But with the herd of skunks around here lately, it has been less pleasant in recent weeks.