Friday, February 18, 2011

what do you mean you killed the skunk?

The first thing you should know about urban farming is it involves animals.  Sort of a shock to me, not that small raptor like creatures would take over our lives inside & out but everytime I asked for an animal the answer was 'yes'.  Chickens, yes! Turkey, yes! A second dog, yes! A third cat, yes! A pair of ducks, yes! Guinea pigs, yes! Rabbits, yes! A snake, why not! Okay, hold on there Noah, this is making camping very complex.  Some mornings I feel like the little old lady in the shoe…shouldn’t we have an adult in charge of this crazy bus?
Missing from that list is the one animal that Colby really wants, a skunk.  I think the dogs would like one of those fancy cats too.  As luck would have it shortly after we moved in ripping out all the carpets and drapes, erecting a garden and a chicken coop, and moved some fences around & back again.  Before we could get to stumbling across some kid outside a grocery store with a box of free de-scented skunks, a skunk found us.  Oh, it must be fate, proof the Secret works, Oprah I believe! Okay, not fate but a way more powerful force- chicken shit, which attracted it to our chickens.  
The two most often asked questions on our urban farm on the wrong side of town after did you feed and water the ______, are 1. Was that a gun shot? 2. Do you smell that?
The ‘that’ is a skunk in the hen house unless the two questions coincide which means the polygamist down the street just answered the oldest question known to mom’s “What’s for dinner tonight?”
“Do you smell that?” accompanied the dogs.  Damn: H2o2, baby shampoo, dawn.
(PS doesn’t really work because what odder you do manage to remove is then replaced by wet dog in your only real functioning bathroom, shrug, pee outside boys but stay away from the fancy black & white cat) 
So skunk loving Quaker-Colby went out to save the flock while I washed the dogs.  Now the kids, the 4 'Van-Trap' children despite the late hour are not on the steps singing good night.  The oldest child a girl is gagging over the dogs, the middle two BOYS are putting on the war paint, the youngest is preparing a spot in her bed for the skunk to sleep in.  
I’m waiting in the doorway of the mudroom for news and when it comes it isn’t good.  The skunk has hunkered down in the coop refusing all of Colby’s maneuvers to dislodge it.  The ducks are doing the march of Jericho around the coop with the ark of covenant attempting to summon God but the chickens their feathery asses hovering above the skunk are too stupid to be scared.  “I don’t know what to do,” he says.  Oh but I do, arms akimbo, hat down over my eyes, trigger finger twitching “Get your gun!”  Maybe it didn’t go like that.  Maybe it was beer in hand, child on hip, hair in eyes, “don’t you have a gun or something?” 
If this was Law and Order this is where the police would separate us.
Q:  And Mr. Ries when Ms. Brown suggested you get the gun she meant for you to do what exactly?
A: Shoot the skunk. 
Q: And Ms. Brown when you suggested that Mr. Ries get his gun what did you mean for him to do with it?
A: Fuck if I know, threaten it.
Q: Mr. Ries what did you do?
A: Killed the skunk. 
Q: Ms. Brown when you found Mr. Ries in the moon light, the sweetest, most gentle man you know, lying on the ground in your words 'army-man-style' with the gun and the flashlight aimed at the skunks head saying he had killed the skunk, by the way what was your grade in Comparative Vertebrate Morphology?
A: An A Sir. 
Q: You are a biologist?
A: Yes.  
Q: So when Mr. Ries told you what he had done, shot the skunk in the head from 5 feet away, that it had released all its scent, killed over, and stopped twitching your exact words to him were what? 
A: How did you know you killed it?

Farm fact one, if you shoot a small animal in the head with a gun from 5 feet away it is called killing.  Fact two, dead skunks smell worse than live ones.  Look, I led a very sheltered life as a sweet Mormon child in the affluent Harvard-Yale district of SLC this is all news to me.  I think in a way it was news to all of us, the oldest child, shortly there after the afore mentioned killing, moved back in with her father, raw life did not suit her vision of her high school existence.  The boys all got weapons and skills to defend the farm. We decided to delay reading Lord of the Flies.  Threw out the movie Lion King, the youngest having learned the cycle of life. 

Chickens are too stupid to learn anything.  Apparently so are dogs.  But every once in awhile in those silences between couples walking together knee deep in green wild grasses the kids hopelessly lost playing in the field or petting the neighbor’s horse, one of us will lean over to whisper in the others ear, “How do you know you killed it?” and laugh because this is how we want to raise US; knee deep, hopeless lost, and laughing.  Hey, I was wondering if we could get a goat?

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