There comes a time in every guy's life when he unexpectedly finds himself facing pure evil and his mind snaps into sharp focus and a single thought flashes through his brain and that thought is "Run!"
At least that's what happened to me.
I had been doing yard work last week when it occurred that it was time to gather eggs. We have four Wyandotte hens who have the run of our farmyard. These busy little birds turn grass and bugs and whatnot into free eggs.
I strolled into the chicken coop and went to the nest box the hens always use. I didn't train them to use that particular box, although it's convenient that they do. Easter Egg hunts are fun but not if you have to conduct one daily.
I was reaching for the nest box when I noticed a dark blob moving inside it. "Just one of the hens," I thought. "She'll scoot when I give her a nudge."
For some reason I paused. "Wait a minute!" I thought. "The hens are all outside! And none of them has black fur! Or white stripes down their backs!"
That was the point when the thought "Run!" blasted through my brain. I skedaddled from the coop at a speed often associated with top fuel dragsters.
After gathering my wits and mopping away the flop sweat, I concluded that I needed to get confirmation of what I thought I saw. Equipped with a shotgun and a flashlight, I quietly and carefully stole into the coop.
Sandy, our Golden Retriever, decided that he needed to "help." He galumphed in ahead of me, a furry blur of high spirits and slobber, the exact opposite of stealth.
There was a low growl from the nest box area. Sandy bolted out the door as a nauseating tsunami of nuclear-strength stench punched me in the nose.
"Yup," I thought, "there's a skunk in the coop!"
What to do when faced with a terrorist of this stripe? Negotiation was clearly not in the cards nor was physically evicting the unwelcome squatter. I opted to retire to a safe distance and lurk in ambuscade with my trusty .22 rifle.
And so I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I also pondered such questions as: Can skunks smell themselves? If so, how do they stand it? And how can they smell anything else?
I also ruminated on skunk stories I had heard. One that stood out was shared with me many moons ago.
Colesta was a sweet little old lady who worked at our local veterinary clinic. I enjoyed chatting with her whenever I stopped at the clinic for animal healthcare products.
"I'll never forget the time that skunk went after Nona," said Colesta during one of our chats. Nona was Colesta's daughter.
"Nona was about 12. It was a nice summer day, and she was playing outside. All of a sudden, I heard her scream. I went to the door and Nona went running past with a skunk chasing her!"
I asked Colesta how she resolved the situation.
"I grabbed the shotgun, and the next time Nona ran past the door, I let the skunk have it!"
That took nerves of steel and a steady aim. It was hard to wrap my brain around the image of kindly Colesta brandishing a gun, let alone killing anything.
Colesta's story tumbled through my skull like stones in an empty cement mixer as I waited for the skunk to quit the coop. I finally told myself, "By golly, if a widowed mother could single-handedly face down a skunk, I should be able to do the same!" Plus, I was really tired of waiting.
I approached the coop cautiously, rifle raised. Strangely, Sandy opted not to "help" this time.
Nearing the nest box, I discerned the dim outline of the skunk. But was it his "business" end? No! I perceived his varmint face peering out from the shadows. He wore an expression that said, "What a sweet little apartment! And it comes with free eggs! I'm gonna stay here forever!"
The squatter was sprayed with lead before he could spray me. You might say he was evicted with extreme prejudice.
There is no shovel handle long enough for what had to be done next. By the time that bit of nastiness was over, I probably stunk as bad as Sandy. But it was difficult for me to judge, as my olfactory senses were overloaded by the aroma of "eau de skunk."
The way I see things, it was either the skunk or me. Because there's only room enough for one stinker at our place, and that job is already taken.