Posted 08-06-2004 at 10:22:25
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I guess most country kids were curious about skunks, but mostly gave them a wide berth. I recall once, I got very familiar with one, a close encounter of the worst kind! Day was cold, but we hated staying indoors, and so decided to get our sling-shots and go to war. (Parents hadn’t a clue as to some of the stuff we did!) We filled our pockets with pebbles, and took up positions, and commenced firing at one another, and I somehow wound up on top of the barn, firing over the ridge at a ‘squad’ hiding in the bar-ditch.
Rocks are pinging and popping, hot and heavy, and suddenly I spot a ‘sniper’ headed our way. He’s trottin’ cool, nose in the air, and that black and white flag waving proudly over his back! I yell to stay down, a skunk will soon be right in front of them, and they duck. He passes by and trots on down hill toward the windmill, and I shimmy down off the barn, and suggest we chase him. (I wasn’t the brightest candle in the corner!) We take off, and don’t get too close and suddenly he disappears. We hurry up and find there is a hole in the ground, about 2’ deep and wide, with a nest burrowed out on one wall, and there he huddles!
We keep peeking, whispering excitedly, and someone wonders if you could really get a wire and twist him out of the hole, as we’d read hunters sometimes did. I ran for a piece of barb-wire, maybe 3’ long and separated the wires a couple inches to make a little Y on the end. I sez, full of 8 year old self importance, “Stand back, men! This may be tricky!” They obliged by running back about 20’, giggling like goobers! The oldest brother recalled that it was necessary to keep his back feet off the ground so he couldn’t spray—HECK! I KNEW THAT!
I made one twist and to my surprise, (and horror!) I flipped that stinkin’ skunk into the air, like a crappie on a pole, and held on for dear life! What in the devil would I DO with him now? My fellow warriors were now about half a city block away! They kept screaming, in between choking laughter, “Don’t let his feet touch the ground!” And I am standing there, bug eyed and panicky, wondering what to do? Then the skunk took the decision away from me, and he marshaled all his forces, and let go with a cloud of musk that’d put the A-Bomb to shame! That is when we all learned, feet got nothing to do with the squirtin’ apparatus!
I flung that wired skunk and let out a howl that sounded like a banshee, and at the same time, the German Shepherd who’d stayed at my side is also screaming in dog language! We are both blind as bats, having caught the cloud in the face, and even worse, I knew I was also going deaf, as voices got further and further away! It came to me, they were all running away, leaving me a quarter of a mile from home, in a pasture!
Then, I felt a hand on my arm, and my younger brother, my special family buddy, told me he would lead me home. I told him my eyes were burning and to take me to the windmill. He did, and I slapped the thin sheet of ice away, and splashed the cold water on my face, which did nothing but give me shivers. So, Huck led me home, and the tale had been told, already. Mama met me at the door and told me to go to the barn and she’d bring me a tub of water, that I couldn’t come in smelling like that! So I squalled to the barn, amid hoots of laughter and yells of “pheeewwww!”
Mama heated the water, and brought it along with a bar of lye soap and a change of clothing, and told me to scrub good. We knew of no remedy to rid us of the smell except prayer and scrubbing! Neither worked, so after a bath, I still wasn’t allowed in, and mama came and built me a tiny camp fire to stay warm by, telling me she wanted me to always remember this day! (Wasn’t likely I’d forget!) Only the dog stayed with me, and we commiserated with one another. Huck came and brought me a plate of food, but even he couldn’t tolerate the smell.
When Daddy came home at dark and found I’d been banished from the house, he had a fit and called me in, and told the family they were not to say another word. He forgot to tell the sibs, though, that they couldn’t hold their nose every time I looked at them. I learned a lot that day.. Skunks don’t need to pump feet to make the squirting apparatus work, sometimes a good mama gives a dose of tough love to make sure a lesson sticks, sibs can’t always be depended on, and daddies can be soft as butter.
Later, Huck, who’d gently led me home, told me he almost took me to a mud hole and shoved me in… for he discovered I was wearing HIS over alls, which had to be burned. Even a best brother can be testy while doing a good deed!