Encounters 2

I’m the kind of person who likes to learn and grow. I can give myself grace for mistakes and try to do better. When I do something foolish like, oh, I don’t know… leave the chicken coop open too late and end up sharing a visit with a skunk, for example, (just off the top of my head) I learn from that experience and do things differently.

Well, a couple of Fridays ago, I was in a bit of a hurry because we were celebrating my son’s birthday by going out to dinner, and we were going to the Indoor Market the next day and I still had some jobs to get done, but I desperately wanted to go to the Urbana Contra Dance, so I was snorting around crossing things off the list in a hurry. I was proud of myself–I made a big point of getting those chickens in and getting that door shut before we went to dinner.

Afterwards, I scooted back to my list. Then it was 7:45pm and the dance started at 8 and I was still labeling some packaging when Anna saw me and took pity on me. She told me ‘Get outta here!’ and that she would finish my jobs for me. “FANTASTIC,” I said, “Can you please check the temporary electric fence for the chickens and make sure it isn’t shorting out anywhere?” “No problem,” she said and I was GONE!

Cut forward to 11pm. I’m driving home from the dance. (It was wonderful.) Suddenly I think, ‘Yes, I put the chickens in, and yes, Anna checked the fence, but what about the eggs? I never asked her to collect eggs!’ Sigh.

So I get home and I drive out to the coops and I collect the eggs in the first coop without incident, then I decide to get the eggs from the second coop.

Now, I’m going to remind you that I had just had a run-in with a skunk not long before that–well, not a run in, it didn’t spray me–a close call. And, also I will tell you skunks are actually lovely, gentle creatures. They are gorgeous and timid and would be so fantastic if they didn’t love to eat eggs so, so much and if their defense system wasn’t quite so powerful. Back in my twenties my dog got sprayed once and it took us FOREVER to get rid of the smell.

We’ve had skunks out here for quite a while, but they really only come out at night and they are annoying but not threatening. For the most part we don’t really even notice them except during the spring when love (and pheromones) are in the air.

(But they do give me an adrenaline rush every. single. time. I see them.)

So back to the story, I had just had a close call with a skunk and it’s 11 at night and I thought, ‘I will protect myself by driving my car back by the coop and leaving my headlights on.’ So I did that forgetting that chickens are sensitive to light and wake up or fall asleep kind of like flipping a light switch, so by putting my headlights on the coop, I managed to wake up EVERY SINGLE CHICKEN in the place.

So now it’s 11pm, I’m collecting eggs, every chicken in the place is yelling at me about how much they love snacks and flying down from their roosts and I’m counting eggs. I clean out one nest box and get to the next nest box. I got about 11 eggs out of there when I realize I see a nose!!! We have roll away nest boxes so I am opening a flap at the back of the box to collect eggs, but I can’t see in the front of the box. I stick my head around to the front and WHATDOYOUKNOW?!IT’SANOTHERSKUNK!!!!!

I knew that skunks don’t usually try to eat chickens, but with every bird in the place flapping and squawking and generally enjoying a little nighttime chaos party, I thought we were going down–someone was going to annoy the skunk and get us all sprayed.

What to do? What’s the best plan?

I admit it: I left the skunk the rest of the eggs, told the girls “It’s every man for himself!” and hot-footed it right back out of the coop.

So basically, if you want to know how many eggs does it take to fill up a skunk, I can tell you a reasonable guess would be 7.

It’s fun in the country!