We have had some experiences here on the farm. We have caught possums. We have killed snakes. We have even trapped a skunk in a live trap.
Have I ever told you that story?
We have had our share of possum infestations, among other things. You can scroll down this page and on the right there is a Tag box...one of the topics is wildlife. If you think you are having a bad day, check out a few of those posts sometime.
During one of our possum infestations, I saw evidence of another invasion. Since we had recently trapped and relocated possums, I assumed we had the same problem. As if it were a normal part of every day life, I grabbed a can of Fancy Feast, headed to the hay barn and set the live trap.
No big deal, right?
As desensitized as I may be to some steps in this process, the next morning is always nerve wracking. I do not like to open the door to the hay barn and see what the catch of the day is. I never expect it to be anything different than a stray cat or a possum, usually a possum, but it still unnerves me. For one thing, I don't like possums. They creep me out. They have big mouths, long tails, they stink, and they are usually hissing at you. I have been in the trenches of possum removal. I have experienced the hand to hand combat, and while I have personally tried to reassure my help that it is okay because they can only run 7 mph, they are not fun and they do not play dead.
On this particular day, I slowly opened the barn door, not hearing anything and feeling relieved, I entered a little faster than I should have. I was totally caught by surprise when I realized that I had a skunk in my trap. To say that I jumped backward and screamed would be an understatement. After I got a grip on myself, I managed to sneak back in and open the door so the chickens could get out. I wasn't sure, but I didn't want them to do anything to alarm the thing and cause it to spray. After all, this is my hay barn.
I go in there everyday.
I keep hay in there.
The next thing I did was run for the house and call the Man in Charge. He was at work and immediately started chuckling at my dilemma. Always being the calm voice of reason, he said, "Is this something that we need to deal with now, or can it wait until I get home?"
It could wait, alright.
I spent a large portion of my morning reading about trapping skunks, and all the things you should do, like:
Use an enclosed trap so that you can remove it.
Trap in an open area.
Make sure to tie a rope to the trap.
All very useful information, but not very helpful in my situation.
As a side note: I have to tell you that after spending my morning on the Internet searching for answers, I called a friend of mine in a nearby town. He is in his 70's, and without a doubt, I know that he would do anything that he could for me. I gave him a call and started to explain my situation. Well, he was shocked. Shocked to the point of stuttering, and he was full of questions. The number one question being, "What are you going to do?" It was at this point that I decided to play a little trick on him. I asked him if he would come and help me get the trap out of there. Without missing a beat...without a single stutter or hesitation...he started in with...
"Are you still there?"
"There is a lot of static on the line, I can't hear you!"
Jim is another friend of ours, and after yelling at me to call him, he promptly hung up the phone. Well, I was laughing my head off. Little brat.
Back to the story - After the Man In Charge got home, we devised a plan. It went like this...I would sneak into the barn, go up to the trap, and throw an old blanket over it. Everything that I read said that they very rarely spray when they are in the dark. I had also read that when they are going to spray, they stomp their front feet first.
Good to know...watch the feet.
Then, once I had the trap covered with a blanket, I would put a rope around it, and the Man in Charge would pull it out. That was the extent of the plan because we were just hoping to get that far without getting sprayed. I will tell you that talking about a plan and implementing a plan are two different things. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, try doing something crazy like this. My knees were knocking, I was shaking so bad. It took several attempts to get the blanket on the trap. Every time he even flinched, I screamed, dropped the blanket and ran. You can ask my Full-timer, the policy when it comes to skunks is every man for himself. If you are in front of me, you better run because I will run you over. The ironic part is that the Man in Charge was standing outside during the initial phase of this plan, complaining because it was taking me so long.
Long story short, we got the thing covered and out of the barn. The next phase was to open the trap, let him out and then we had to dispose of him.
Not in a very nice way.
Some of you may wonder why we had to dispose of him, but I draw the line at skunks. We don't kill things unneccessarily. We are all about catch and relocate if at all possible. The Man in Charge really does not like killing things. He is not a hunter. He used to be, and maybe that is why he has a bad taste for it, but if he can avoid it - He will! It just is not that easy when it comes to skunks. If we just let him go, he would be back. They love eggs and they will kill chickens. My first priority is to protect the animals that I am in charge of. To relocate him...I would have to load him up in my truck.
Absolutely out of the question!
Also, skunks carry rabies, and we have had big rabies scares in our area.
After discussions and further planning, I was to sneak up on the trap, pull the blanket back from the release door, and then open it. That being easy enough, I tied a rope to the door, and slowly backed away while holding it open. Problem - he wouldn't come out. I handed the rope to my Full-timer, and went back up to the trap. I shook it until he started to come out.
Can you imagine?
At that point it was up to the Man in Charge. He did his duty, and when it was all over, I grabbed a rake and went to scoop him up to take him down to the creek and throw him over the fence. I made sure to position him down wind from me, and headed out. Luckily there was no smell at this point.
This is when my lovely family decided to have a little fun. The two people that I do the most for these days, decided to play a trick on me. The Man in Charge yells out, "It's alive!" At which point, I scream and jump. As I scream and jump, I look at the rake. Well, when I jumped it caused the thing to move, which did make it seem like it was alive. At this point, I yelled, threw the whole thing in the air and ran. Now you have to know that they were laughing their heads off.
That was it.
I was done.
They were on their own.
As bad as that day was, what I am about to tell you was even worse.
To be Cont...