Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Isaac Kills a Skunk

Disney's Flower meets Bambi
When we returned to the farm we learned from neighbors that in our region skunks are often carriers of rabies.  Since skunks are nocturnal creatures, seeing a skunk in daylight is taken as an indication that the skunk may be sick, and if it is sick, it could be rabid.  The safer method of addressing that question is to eliminate the risk.  Safer for humans and domestic animals, that is.  Not safer for the skunk. A skunk that goes for a daylight stroll in our yard is about to be a dead skunk.

That may be an easy choice for many people, but while I agree with the logic, I struggle with my conscience.  A big part of my pleasure from living on a farm is sharing the place with the birds and animals.  Moles and gophers test my patience, my heart breaks when I see a coyote chasing a fawn across the field, and I am angered by the greediness of the babies of the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly when they strip my dill plants, but I generally regard their right to live alongside us with tolerance, and we rarely interfere with Nature's way of keeping a balance in nature between predators and prey.

I remind anyone who will listen that wasps are beneficial insects and that snakes keep the mice and rat population under control.  The mud nests of barn swallows are messy, but they eat huge quantities of mosquitoes. The persistence of mice for setting up housekeeping in houses and barns tests my patience, but in general I enjoy the company of animals.  

But, back to skunks, perhaps I saw Disney's Bambi too many times as a child, or perhaps it was Pepe' La Pew's constant romantic rejections that won my sympathy, but I happen to think skunks are quite beautiful. Their luxurious coats and the dramatic contrast of black and white are stunning.

Isaac B. Werner mentions encounters with skunks twice in his journal.  In one encounter a skunk got into his chicken house and he killed it with a hammer.

In another encounter, he returned home late one evening after helping a neighbor and found a family of skunks in his house!  His journal does not describe how he disposed of them!  Isaac never mentions owning a gun, and the detailed inventory of his property following his death included such minor items as his toothbrushes and his collars, but it did not include a gun, so I do not believe he owned one.  I can only image how he got rid of a family of skunks in his house!!! 

Beautiful or not, a skunk strolling through our yard in daylight is about to be a dead skunk.

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