Check out this story from a GRIT reader about the day a skunk crossed the path of a girl and her puppy.
I grew up on a 70-acre farm in central Ohio. We had cows, chickens, horses, and a mule team rescued from an auction. I have such fond memories of my childhood.
On my sixth birthday, I was elated when my parents gave me an adorable 3-month-old fox terrier. I pondered what to name him as the pup licked my cheek and I stroked his head. Suddenly, the puppy jumped from my lap and raced to the front door. As soon as I opened the screen door, he sprinted across the porch and chose Mom’s flower bed as his target. In less than a minute, he raced back to me and dropped a poppy flower at my feet. I named him Poppy. While my folks put a wire mesh fence around the flower patch, I played with Poppy and was pleased when he responded to his new moniker.
One summer evening, Poppy and I had an encounter with a skunk on the way to secure the chicken house at dusk. Skunks love chicken eggs. When the skunk crossed our path, Poppy began barking and the skunk retaliated by spraying him. “Poppy’s been skunked,” I screamed, and we raced to the house.
Mom de-skunked Poppy with a mixture of baby shampoo and baking soda, rinsed him three times in tomato juice, and then followed up with a warm water rinse. She sniffed his fur and said, “I believe there’s a little bit of magic in tomato juice. I can only smell a hint of skunk odor.” Poppy no longer smelled of skunk. He joined us in the kitchen for breakfast. I scooped Poppy into my arms and giggled, “He smells like a salad.”
I’m relieved there were no more skunk encounters. Even though it was never needed again, Mom always kept tomato juice on hand just in case.
Georgia A. Hubley Henderson, Nevada
This is in response to Rebecca Martin’s editorial “Large Animal Tales” (May/June 2020). We had Holsteins. They would walk from the pasture toward the barn in the late afternoon, passing two clean ponds to drink from a trough instead. Apparently, they preferred filtered, chlorinated water to pond water. In summer, they also preferred cool water rather than the sun-warmed water in the trough. Several of them learned to turn on the faucet and drink directly from it. We had to remove the faucet handle and hang it on the fence to avoid having the trough overflow every afternoon.
More Animal Tales
Our son was getting his Holstein heifer ready for the county fair. She was washed and clipped, and tied to a tree in the yard. Our son stepped away for a few minutes. When he went back outside, she had gotten loose and was running down the road in front of our farm. He yelled her name, “Chip,” and she turned and ran right back to him. If you know Holsteins, you know they don’t come when called. Chip was very intelligent. She won reserve champion at the fair!
Bay City, Wisconsin
The first word I learned to spell as a child was “cow.” The reason for that was because we had a Collie that loved to retrieve the milk cows. If we accidentally spoke that word, you guessed it, she’d get the cows. At times it was comical, but I’m sure the cows didn’t feel that way.
Bitterroot Valley, Montana
The article “Preserving Marmalade Appeal” (May/June 2020) was interesting — but too late for me!
Only the day before receiving that issue of Grit, I’d made my first batch of kumquat marmalade. I make marmalade every year from the fruit of my Meyer lemon tree, plus other fruit, but I’d never before had any kumquats to play with.
The photo shows some of the 106 jars of marmalade I made this year — mostly from my lemons, but also jars of Satsuma mandarin and grapefruit, plus seven jars of very good kumquat. Also shown is an ornamental birdhouse I made on my lathe. I lost my sight some years ago, but continue to turn and cook to keep occupied. I’ll be 91 years old this summer, and hope to make many more jars of marmalade for gifts. The recipe is one my grandmother used when I was growing up in Wales. Great magazine. I usually pass it on after I’ve read it.
Paul Cunningham Warner
Queen of the Pecking Order
Some years ago, I bought baby chicks for my then-three grandchildren. I raised the chicks inside until they were ready to go outside to their new home, a small chicken tractor and run I’d bought. I used to sit and watch my birds from my garden shed porch; they were so much fun to watch.
Then, I started researching other breeds and decided on an Easter Egger. I paid $40 for a full-grown hen. The day I brought her home and placed her in the coop, she went up to each bird and pecked them as if to say, “This is my castle, and you are my subjects.” Not only was she Queen, she would eat first, drink first, and go to bed first. To top it off, she got the prime spot on the perch inside the coop. It dawned on me that this is where the term “pecking order” comes from. I love nature, and I sure love chickens.
Seeds, Stamps, Stationery, Postcards, and Coupons
I’m looking for any seeds, stamps, stickers, stationery, postcards, and coupons.
3321 E. Almeria Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85008-3839
My grandson is looking for vintage bumper stickers that advertise rural and small-town radio stations for a community project.
1 Priority Lane #300
Murrysville, PA 15668
I’m a vet who loves to read comic books. If any of you want to dump some, I’d love to have them.
Bob Kantanick170 Markle St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
I’m looking for leftover scraps of mohair yarn to complete an afghan I’m making. The scraps can be any color, should be 70 percent or greater mohair content, and never stored with mothballs. I’ll gladly pay for postage.
615 Chestnut Ave., Apt. 1208
Towson, MD 21204
Through the Grapevine: Fix for a Leaning Wood Pile
Check out these readers’ tips from rural America, covering wood pile fixes, truck bed gardening, and much more.
Small Backyard Gardening
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are is our motto or in this case with the backyard gardening space available.
Read this editor’s letter about her new chickens and their lively personalities.