Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: skunk

Looking for sense in the scent

My wife woke me at 7:00 AM Saturday, saying “We’ve got to get out of the house!” When the cobwebs had cleared from my brain, my nose told me the cause of her concern. The pungent odour of skunk was permeating the house.

We live in a mobile home and were aware that a skunk had burrowed under the house. We have every intention of sealing off the perimeter of the house so this won’t happen again. But we don’t want to seal the skunk in, and we can’t do much as long as the ground is frozen. As long as the skunk was minding its manners it seemed like waiting was the best plan.

I got up, turned the furnace off to stop circulating the aroma through the house, then opened windows. Saturday was a sunny and mild day and the house didn’t cool down all that much. We left for part of the day, had dinner in the city and came home to a house that was somewhat less repugnant. I turned on a few electric heaters for heat and we tried to stay away from the part of the house that smelled the worst.

Angus, our middle cat went outside in the evening and it was quite late when he returned home. We didn’t notice anything on him, except that he was wet (and it was not raining outside) and seemed nervous. A few minutes later he was attacked by Pookie, our smallest cat. We separated the two and put Angus in a room by himself for the night. He seemed traumatized and even afraid of us. He has scratches on his face and shoulder; we don’t know if that happened outside or was the result of Pookie’s attack. These two often squabble, but no harm has been done before. It was almost like Pookie didn’t recognize Angus – perhaps he didn’t smell right.

Angus has made a quick recovery and there is no more evidence of animosity between him and Pookie. Today there is a little white-faced tabby on our doorstep.He comes running whenever he sees us at the window, yet dashes down the hole dug by the skunk when we get too close.

Could there be a connection between the skunk spray, this newcomer and what happened to Angus? We don’t know, but it has been an eventful weekend.

The skunk scent has dissipated from most of the house, except right by our entrance door. The hole is close to the doorstep and I suspect the wood under our entrance is saturated. So if you come to visit us, hold your nose until you get further into the house.

Ce sont des choses qu’arrivent

We left home in the afternoon, foolishly leaving the curtains wide open to announce our absence to all the world, attended a church service an hour outside of Montréal, then drove a lady to her home on the west side of the city. It was after midnight when we returned home. The first hint of trouble was when we drove in our driveway and the motion sensor light did not come on.

Our computer, printer and fax machine were gone, some pieces no doubt carried inside the pillow case that was missing from our bed. The culprit had come in through a basement window at the back, unscrewed the bulb in the light above the outside door and made off with the things that could be quickly sold. The police came, took down all the information, and said “Ce sont des choses qu’arrivent.” (These things happen.)

Not a very encouraging message, but we understood that the likelihood of ever seeing our stolen goods again was about zero. Even if the police could have found the culprit, he would have sold the stolen items almost immediately. If the police could have located the stolen items, we had no way to identify them as ours. We didn’t even have the serial numbers written down anywhere.

A police officer once told us that he and his wife had bought a recliner for his wife’s mother. The store delivered it to the lobby of her apartment building where it promptly disappeared. They checked all the apartments, found the recliner in one of them and the man said “Prove it!” With no eyewitnesses and no way of proving that this was the chair they had bought, their hands were tied.

It is really amazing how many crimes the police are able to solve under such circumstances. We can make their job easier by engraving our name in some inconspicuous location on valuable items and by keeping a list of model and serial numbers. More experienced criminals know this and will remove labels and tags and sand off any identifying marks.

Murphy, whoever he was, spoke the truth when he said “If something can go wrong, it will.” Nothing is completely idiot proof, including our sophisticated electronic devices. My printer would not print this morning. It worked fine yesterday, but something changed overnight. I did all kinds of troubleshooting and found nothing wrong. I finally deleted the printer driver from my computer and reinstalled it. That worked. My best guess is that the anti-virus program renewed the computer firewall and blocked access to the home office network. Reinstalling the program renewed the exception status for the printer.

There is a skunk who wants to make his home under our mobile home and keeps digging his way in under the skirting. There is also a stray cat who thinks he belongs in our home. Every time a new hole appears he crawls under the trailer, squeezes through the opening where the water pipes come up and comes out through the cabinets in our main bathroom. He’s really quite a nice cat, except for this obnoxious drive to find a way in. We already have three house cats. Is there anyone within driving distance who wants a cat?

After fixing the printer problem, I went out and hauled more wheelbarrow loads of gravel to try and make it more difficult to burrow under the skirting. There’s no guarantee it will work, my best hope is that the skunk will get frustrated and go somewhere else. We had this problem last year and tried a skunk trap, didn’t work. I am using an animal repellant, but I’m not sure the skunk or the cat have read the label and understand what it is. Ce sont des choses qu’arrivent.

Post script to “Things that go bump in the night”

We didn’t just go to the city to escape the skunk smell; my wife had a doctor’s appointment.  It just so happened that my cousin Ted’s wife had an appointment in the same office at the same time.  She was accompanied by a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.  Chris shared our tale of woe.

Cousin Ted called the next morning.  “Say Bob, we found a dead skunk and we dropped it off in your yard.  Did you find it?”

“So that’s what happened!”

Well no, I don’t believe that’s what happened.  But it will make a good story for the next family gathering: “Did you hear what Ted did to us?”

Our son-in-law told us we could gladly have come to their place in the middle of the night.  We appreciate the offer, but wonder if anyone would have gotten any sleep.

Our mobile home has an addition which includes our bedroom and bathroom.  The initial cloud of odour drifted into this area too, but once it had dissipated, this area has been odour free.

Things that go bump in the night

We were late getting to bed Wednesday night.  I was just brushing my teeth at midnight when I heard bumping and thumping coming from underneath our mobile home, accompanied by the terrified squeals of a small animal.  The commotion lasted a minute or two, then all was quiet.  In the quiet there came first a whiff, then the overpowering odour of skunk rising through the floor.


We opened all the windows, turned on the ceiling fans and a couple of air cleaners, and lit some candles.  We wandered around the yard, contemplated sleeping in the car, wondered if we should wake our children and claim the spare bedroom in their home.  Finally, at 2:00 AM we settled down on the bed in our spare bedroom where a fresh breeze was coming in the windows.  We fell asleep, then at a quarter to four I awoke and realized the breeze was much fainter and the smell much stronger.

I got up and searched the internet for help.  I came across a suggestion that placing bowls of vinegar around the house would absorb the smell.  I found the vinegar jug, poured vinegar into small bowls and placed them through the house.  Then I got a blanket and laid down in the recliner and got a couple more hours sleep.  In the morning I sprayed Febreze® air freshener in the areas where the odour seemed the strongest, then we left to spend the day in the city.

Now let’s back up a couple weeks.  I noticed a hole dug through the gravel banked against the trailer skirting on the north side of our home.  I scraped the gravel back into place, wondering if the culprit was a gopher, or perhaps a skunk.  The hole was promptly opened again.  Then Angus, our black Siamese cat began appearing in our house without being let in through the door.  It didn’t take long to figure out that he would run down the hole, travel half the length of the trailer in the dark, then come up through the hole where the water pipes come up and from there enter the house through the bathroom cabinet in the central bathroom.  However, was he the one who had dug the hole in the first place?

I placed a squared off block of wood over the hole.  The next morning there was a hole at the end of the block and Angus was appearing in the house again without being let in.  He appeared quite proud of his ingenuity.  We were still wondering if Angus was the one doing the digging, and what to do about it, when we found out the hard way that a skunk had also discovered the underside of our mobile home.

The question now is, who was the attacker?  In our wanderings of the yard that night, we saw that the hole had been freshly enlarged by some digging creature.  The two main killers of skunks are automobiles and great horned owls, neither of them having a sense of smell.  Both are frequently seen and heard on and around our yard, yet I can’t imagine either going down that hole.

The next list of suspects is coyotes, foxes, badgers and bobcats.  We don’t have bobcats around here, cougars maybe, but not bobcats.  We hear coyotes howling every evening, and have seen foxes as close as a mile away.  Yet I believe a badger is the most likely culprit.

We have slept in our own bedroom the past two nights, and slept well.  The odour has largely dissipated by now.  I suspect the open windows and ceiling fans did more good than anything else.  The bowls of vinegar remain in every room.  I don’t know if they have done any good or not, but the odour of vinegar is vastly preferable to the odour of skunk.

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