Coyotes have been howling in the early morning lately, so when I saw that something had been digging in the paddock where I have buried chickens that have died over the past two years, I suspected that coyotes were the culprits.
In retrospect, the holes did seem kind of small for something a coyote would make. And with all the rabbits and other rodents around, not to mention the live chickens on the property, why would they be after carrion at the height of summer?
Last night I got home from work, checked on the meaties, and then started out to the chicken coop. Strangely, the layer hens were standing around baak b’GAAAKing like crazy. I say “strangely” because these days they are generally finished laying by mid-afternoon.
Then, sauntering by the front of the stable, past the chicken coop, came Mama Skunk with three small babies traipsing along behind her. The chickens gave them wide berth and continued to sound the alarm. The skunks, ignoring human and poultry alike, went off through the long grass at the side of the yard.
Now I don’t mind skunks per se, but I have dogs. All my dogs have had run-ins with skunks, and you would think that one incident would discourage them from attempting a rematch. After all, my Black Lab who once bit the electric fence wouldn’t go in the goat pasture for a year. But no, they seem to run headlong toward disaster, confident that THIS time they will even the score.
When I saw Mama Skunk backing under the chicken coop with her front legs – I almost said “arms” full of dried grass for a comfy bed, I mailed boards across the most obvious access to the underside of the coop. I waited until she was out on her rounds for the evening. Actually she was about twenty feet away from me, robbing another chicken grave. Between furtive glances over my shoulder (“Why hello Mama Skunk. What am I doing? Er, uh…”) I nailed boards across the most obvious access points.
I had an old live trap and I baited it and set it. All night I kept thinking I didn’t really want to catch the critter, since this would present additional challenges. Luckily the trap was still set in the morning and I disarmed it. On my way to work, I saw Mama Skunk a half mile up the road, headed for the neighbor’s pasture.
I hope she’s scouting out new digs, not just doing the grocery shopping. I don’t want to try relocating a spraying skunk, I don’t want her around the dogs (and eggs), and I don’t want to orphan her babies.
Why are skunks so damn beautiful?
Hopefully she’s on her way somewhere else.