Grit Blogs > My Bad Sheep

Close Encounter of the Furred Kind

It was a dark, dismal day. The kind of day when an exasperated work-at-home spouse banishes his companion to monthly Barn Cleaning Duty after he sees fit to try to emulate Jimi Hendrix on his acoustic guitar (along with the record, at full volume. Simply add vocals and mix for an over-the-top Experience.)

Bill’s muck-out-the-barn job usually involves at least an hour of cursing, so I was surprised to see him back after only 30 minutes, pale and shaking. Now, our barn definitely holds no ghosts. It DOES occasionally hold sheep. There was pretty certainly NUTTIN’ haunting around the barn to cause such a reaction.

Bill (wiping brow): I nearly had a BIG ACCIDENT in our barn.

Me (disbelieving): I have no idea what could be dangerous in a near-empty goat barn. Especially since we jettisoned the fissionable materials years ago…

Bill (dryly): Hahaha. SO NOT funny. No, I’m talking a Close Encounter of the Furred Kind.

Now, there are a LOT of Wild Fur Folk on our property. Raccoons sprung to mind. They are feisty, belligerent, and sassy troublemakers. (All the things my Mom called me in my heyday, so I relate strongly to ‘em. They are kindred spirits.)

But apparently no Raccoon was involved …this time.

Bill: …So I was mucking out the sheep pens and the bottom of the door jammed to the main pen. I got down on my hands and knees to pull it free and guess what?

Me (disbelieving ironic tone): You found a sheep?

Bill: NO – I found myself face-to-snoot with a SKUNK.

Our New Buddy Stinky

Now, let it be widely known: my nose simply don’t work. For whatever reason, the ONLY time I can smell much of ANYTHING is when it’s SO odorous as to make people around me keel over. And to me, even skunks smell FAINTLY like coffee…

But my nose pricked up and I started sniffing the air like a bloodhound, instantly calculating how many cans of tomato juice we had on hand and envisioning an emergency drive to the local market to order up a ‘bathtub full’ from a rural store owner who already had had ample warning and past experience with my strange requests – and who should readily know how many 17-oz cans could fill a man-sized tub.

Tomato Juice Bath

Bill: You can quit your sniffing around – Stinky was a POLITE SKUNK.

Now, I’ve read plenty about skunks. But ‘polite skunk’ had not been identified in my reading, so I requested more info.

Apparently Bill and Stinky Came to an Understanding. Non-verbally, anyway. Stinky would be allowed to continue to live in the barn as long as he didn’t spray, and Bill would stay out of the second sheep pen and give him privacy.

Apparently Stinky was also a very young skunk – or a Dwarf Skunk. Either way, despite the fact that a large threat was literally in his face, no spraying took place. ‘Stinky’ just turned and waddled into the depths of his sheep pen.

Bill maintains Stinky was either (a) too young (b) spray-impaired (c) too startled to spray him.

Me: I maintain Stinky merely recognized a kindred spirit.

And in answer to Bill’s query on if I was actually calling him a skunk …. I ain’t sayin’ NUTTIN’ more about the matter!

Draw your own conclusion.

Either way, it was a win-win situation.

Bill and Stinky bonded over the months during Bill’s regular visits to the barn, until one day Stinky just vanished. Some women have to deal with The Other Woman. I had to deal with The Other Skunk: a non-stinker residing literally under my very nose.

That was years ago, but Bill STILL looks at every skunk that comes ‘round the house and fondly identifies it as a now-adult Stinky.

Until the spraying begins.

Tomato juice, anyone?

 Bon Appetit