Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Over the weekend, we trapped an unintended guest.

I have a live trap set up out in our field to catch stray cats so I can set them loose farther out in the country after getting them spayed or neutered. We have a bunch of aggressive toms beating up on our little male cat.

The kids came running up to the truck as I pulled in after getting the mail on Saturday, "Daddy, Daddy! Go check the trap!" They were far too excited for something so mundane as an old cat, so I was prepared for anything from a raccoon to a small child. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.

Sneaking up on the wire cage, I saw the telltale black and white scheme. How was I going to release this pungent, angry, and generally nerved up skunk? Thinking and furrowing my own nervous brow, I angled toward the woodpile.

Two viable, though not ideal choices were all I found. A couple of sheets of plywood, one only a foot and a half wide by four feet and the other almost whole were what I could choose from as a shield and protection from certain sprayage. Choosing economy and totability over complete safety, I picked up the smaller of the two and walked to within ten feet of the little beady-eyed LePeuian.

The next ten feet were traversed with great care over the space of the next four or five minutes so as not to surprise the skunk. Finally, after getting the board just a few inches away from the release mechanism, I carefully and very slowly twisted and pulled the pin out from the door. To my horror, the door began to fall free, and knowing that the board wasn't far enough away to let it fall into the grass, I braced for the inevitable clunk of metal against wood. Unfortunately, the skunk wasn't prepared for that 'clunk.'

luckily for me, his first salvo was a warning spurt directed in the direction of the noise, at the bottom of my little shield. Only my hand was affected, though quite affected it was.

I backed away with even more care than I approached with, tossing my envenomed shield to the ground when I was far enough away to do so safely.

The little guy was not going anywhere while my brood and I were about, so he just sat and bided his time where he felt most comfortable.

The inevitable happened only an hour or so later, with Hyrum and Tor unable to resist the temptation of throwing Legos and sticks at the little creature to "get him to get out." Hy took a direct hit to the neck and side of the head. He wasn't happy, and neither was Mom or Dad. The rest of the family was delighted with the adventure and scientific spirit of it all, the skunk had sprayed again, this time with a much more exciting result!

We bathed Hyrum in a storage bin with Lemon Fresh Joy, (with very little effect, I hasten to report) followed by a few rinses of tomato sauce and water to cut the stench, through a sort of folksy chemical reaction. The sauce worked, he only smelled awful if one came within a foot or so. That was more or less acceptable to Hy and the family.

Mr. Skunk hung around for most of the day, although the kids left him well enough alone after Hyrum's troubling experiment. He enjoyed the free lodging until sometime around nightfall, when unobserved, he must have waddled off to his home, probably down by the creek on the next block.

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