An Uninvited Guest
It was a wonderfully warm January day. The sun was out and the chickens were scratching happily in the muddy pasture. I had been hoping to burn off the weedy patch that I call a garden and get rid of my stash of boxes in the old tool shed to boot. I grabbed my utility lighter and a bucket of water, just in case, and headed out to the garden.
The tool shed door doesn’t close properly and the last time I was out there I didn’t bother closing it all all. I thought it might be a good place for the cat to get in out of the cold when he decides to camp out overnight. There aren’t actually any tools in the shed. I used it as a ‘summer cottage’ for the chickens the summer before last and I’m hoping to raise turkeys there next year.
But at this point the shed was full of boxes left over from hauling produce home from the store…way more boxes than I can break down and fit in the recycling bin. So I started hauling boxes out to the garden and started my little ‘biochar’ project in the bed that had potatoes last year. I pulled more and more boxes out and burned off a good portion of the garden. As the boxes dwindled, I noticed a pile of leaves in the corner of the shed. Several times I walked within a couple of feet of those leaves before I noticed them rustling around. My heart stopped when I saw some black and white fur nestled in that comfy bed of leaves and I practically tripped over myself as I sprang toward the door.
After a few hastily uttered curses, my pulse slowed and I got my nerve up and poked my head back through the door and watched as the skunk settled back down for his nap. I counted my unscented blessings and went back to my garden project, all the while trying to come up with a plan for evicting the squatter in the shed.
That evening, with no plan formulated in my mind yet, I talked to my Mom on the phone and told her about our uninvited guest. Moms are such a wonderful source of wisdom and encouragement. She told me the story of my Grandmother discovering a skunk in her basement when my Dad was a teenager. The basement stairs led outside through the old wood shed and Grandma had her old wringer washer down there. She was so unnerved by the skunky surprise that she threw an entire glass bottle of ammonia down the stairs. Of course the bottle shattered and the ammonia fumes quickly filled the basement. The skunk immediately high tailed it out of there and never returned.
This story planted the seed of a plan in my brain. I got the ammonia out, filled an old cottage cheese container about 1/3 of the way and headed out to the tool shed. I tossed the open container in the shed, a few feet from the pile of leaves, and put some distance between myself and the door. I could hear the leaves rustling and a faint growling sound from inside. I decided that the best idea would be to head inside and wait until the next morning to see if the shed had been evacuated.
The next day dawned nice and bright. I took care of the chickens and headed back to the shed to check for our guest. Other than the nest of leaves and a faint smell of skunk, there was no sign of the black and white visitor. I sighed in relief and forced the sticky door shut and locked it up to prevent any other opportunistic critters from moving in and setting up house.
Thanks for the skunk removal idea Grandma and Mom!
This article was originally posted on my first blog Little Homestead on the Hill. A quick update: I keep the door to this shed shut nice and tight all the time now. 🙂 I raised 17 turkeys in this shed and last year I intend to raise a batch of meat chickens in there as well. I hope you learned a little lesson about keeping things cleared out and locked up from this story!