When the rest of the northeastern U.S. was preparing for Nemo, I was fencing with rabid skunks.
I barely found the shampoo for a much-needed morning shower before the dogs erupted into a barking cacophony. The hounds were released and I searched to see what the clamor was about. Nothing. Probably the wind.
However, I glanced toward the sheep pasture to catch the flock in full whirlpool action. As I focused on the sheep, I saw the ringmaster -a fluffy black and white shorty, directing the entire show.
As soon as it registered that the skunk was why the dogs were barking, I ran to the front door, yelling “Treats! Hey, come on in, guys! Mommy’s got treats!!!” Three pups turned round and zoomed into the front hallway, assuming their seated and attentive positions while I tossed biscuits to each, shutting the door securely behind me. I have to make sure to do that, because Cricket knows how to open it and let himself out.
The last thing I needed was three sprayed dogs that morning. So, on to the pasture. I gazed out the side window and watched in amazement as my sheep ran around and around and around and around, all while being pursued by ‘Sassy’, as I had named him or her. I thought, “Oh, I should video this!” and tried to find my camera. Never did figure out how to work the real camera, but you can click on this little movie I took on my phone.
It occurred to me that the sheep were tired and stressed. So I pocketed my phone and dashed inside the barn, closing the big doors behind me. I called the sheep from their side door to the pasture and tried to encourage them up the chute, into the safety of the stall. They were confused, as sheep are want to be, and some of them happily came in while others realized it was the middle of the day and so they lingered outside. Yogi, my eldest wether, was standing guard admirably. Finally I convinced them to all come in, sans skunk, and shut the doors safely.
Then I stared out the window for about 10 minutes, waiting out Sassy’s departure.
I locked the barn kitties up in their tack room, lest they should have a run-in, and then made a dash for the house. Out of the corner of my eye I spied Sassy bee-lining to the chicken yard. Drat!
I changed course and ran to the chicken yard at the same moment Sassy arrived. I was hoping that she/he’d be locked out by the Fort Knox style fencing my husband and son installed a few years ago. No luck. Sassy snuck through a gap and wrecked havoc on the hens. I flung the chicken yard door wide open, then flung the coop door wide open, so that everyone had an opportunity to flee. I was so stressed about the poor hens being stressed, or worse yet, being attacked by the skunk. I imagined Sassy was after food of some type and was confounded by his/her behavior of just chasing the chickens around and around, the same as he/she’d been chasing the sheep.
I threw sticks. I’m so brave. I hit Sassy on the head at one point and he/she keeled over onto his/her back. I was astonished at my aim as well as my strength. I really didn’t think it was that serious of a blow. When I realized my power, I thought I’d continue the barrage because at that point I was mostly concerned about my chickens welfare.
Finally the lights went on and I realized that not only was I setting myself up to be sprayed, but Sassy was not quite right and perhaps dangerous. When Sassy stared me in the eyes and started to run straight at me, I turned and once again hightailed it across the backyard, into the house where I shut myself in safely.
Now for about two hours, the dogs(barking still), the cats(sleeping as always) and I were hostage in the house, making phone calls to no avail. The State Police passed me off to the Rabies Control Center, the Rabies Control Center passed me off to my local Constables, my local Constables passed me off to the State Police, my State Police passed me off to my Town Clerk, Town Clerk passed me off to my Game Warden, Game Warden(via dispatcher at State Police) passed me off to the local Animal Control…
Finally Animal Control heard what I was telling her and declared she’d have the Game Warden there asap. When she realized that I’d already been through everyone else a few times already and hadn’t gotten help, then she stepped on it as soon as she realized there were neighbors with children as well as pets that would possibly be exposed to the skunk.
Just ahead of the Game Warden were my save-the-day Polymeadow Farm friends, Jennifer & Melvin. Melvin hopped out of his truck, carefully managed his rifle or shotgun or whatever it is you use to kill a skunk, and walked cautiously to the backyard.
At the same time, I was on the phone with the Game Warden who warned me to warn Melvin to NOT hit the skunk in the head. I yelled out the window to Melvin, “Melvin! Don’t shoot the skunk in the head!” Melvin replied “I’ll do my best, but I’m going to try to kill it where I can get my best shot at it.”
He did. Three shots in the tummy.
Cue the funeral march.
The Game Warden collected the body, I bleached the site, and this morning I got the call. The report was back – Sassy was indeed rabid.