Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The perils of the live trap

Sunday evening, before he left for work Morning morning, Steve set the live trap in the barn.  We've been keeping cat food in there to feed the two cats that don't socialize with the others.  Now, we're smarter than the average bear, so the cat food is in a tin pail with a lid that is held on by the pail handle.  Steve had noticed that something smart enough to lower the handle and pry up the lid had been getting into the cat food.  Sounded like raccoon to me, so I did not object to him setting the trap and leaving for work.  I was supposed to check the trap Monday morning, but of course, I forgot, so when Steve called me Monday evening (he was stuck in Seattle waiting for a pilot with flight hours left to come get them and take them home), he asked if I had checked the trap that morning.  I muttered something not very ladylike, put on some shoes, grabbed the rifle and the flashlight and headed out to the barn.  More unladylike language was uttered the minute I entered the barn and smelled that tell-tale odor.  Of course we had caught a skunk.  I was still on the phone with Steve, who suggested I call Gannon, one of the nephews, to come deal with said skunk.  While I was doing that, Steve called the girls (against my objections) so Monica could come out and see the skunk.

Monica thought the skunk was very cute (it is) and wanted us to take it far away and let it go.  I explained to her that it would come back and eat the chickens, so we had to shoot it.  I'm not sure she understood the necessity at that point, but we were going to go with the plan anyway.  The plan was for Gannon to talk nice to the skunk and gently lay a rug over the trap prior to moving it.  Steve swears this works, and that the skunk will not spray once it's covered, or if it does, the covering will trap the odor.  I think he's fibbing, although he swears this technique worked with the skunk at Grandmas.  He says the magic words are, "here kitty kitty."  It still sounds suspicious.

Gannon brings his brother, Cooper, so the girls, Cooper, and I are all standing watching Gannon croon to the skunk, "You want to spray me, don't you?  Yeah - I'm gonna shoot you."  His tone is nice and calming, so I figure the words don't really matter, but apparently he's not as calm about the possibility of getting sprayed as Steve is, and tosses the rug at the cage from about 5 feet away.  Needless to say, the skunk sprays.  Luckily, it was facing us, and mostly sprayed the wall.  But Gannon, Cooper, Sarah, and Monica are all dashing for the windows and gagging.  I'm not sure that they actually vomited, but the sounds were suspicious.  OK - it stinks, but really, it's not that bad.  I look at my help, with their heads still hanging out the windows, and decide that I'm going to have to take care of this myself.  I take a deep breath of fresh air, go over and straighten the rugs a little, then pick up the skunk-filled trap and carry it to the nearest door.  I tell Sarah to bring the flashlight over and give me some light, and ask Gannon to drive the pickup around and give me light from that side.  He offers to shoot the skunk for me. I assure him that I have it.  If I have to carry the thing outside myself, then I am going to shoot it.  My mother tells me later that he was very disappointed that he did not get to shoot it.  I'm not very sympathetic.  Anyway, we get the skunk outside, and I dispatch it with the first shot to the head.  It hadn't had time to reload, so there was no further spraying.  Gannon did volunteer to take the trap and skunk up to the bone pile.  I said thank you, and told the girls we would go in the back door, strip off in the laundry room and then shower in turns. All contaminated clothing was deposited directly into washer and all bodies were showered.  Luckily no-one was sprayed directly so a simple wash was sufficient. 

We now have a new rule regarding the live trap.  Steve shall not set the live trap unless he will be home in the morning to deal with whatever he catches.  We're not sure when we will be able to go back into the barn, but it kind of needs to be soon.  The nights are getting colder, and I'm going to have to start putting the sheep in at night in case babies arrive.  We may just have to suffer with the smell for a while.