Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: wildlife

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.

Bees in the wall

A few years ago we shared a house with a colony of bees. We weren’t aware of their presence when we moved in. We knew the house from visiting the previous tenants, who had never mentioned the bees. Perhaps they moved in during the few months the house was unoccupied.

They made us nervous at first. The clothesline began at the corner of the house directly above the entry to their abode. They flew back and forth by us whenever we were outside, but they were going about their business and didn’t mind us going about ours. My wife planted hollyhocks on that side of the house, the bees appreciated them and never bothered her as she weeded and watered them.

The colony seemed to be prosperous, swarms left twice a year in search of more room for their increased population. The first couple of times we phoned around trying to find a beekeeper who could collect it for his own use. I watched one swarm, high up on a branch of a poplar tree, while waiting for a beekeeper to arrive. The messengers must have come back with a report of a suitable new location and the whole swarm left, heading south, before the beekeeper arrived.

When we finally did locate a helpful beekeeper, he was only a few miles away and he did capture several swarms. One windy day, while I was working at home alone, I gradually became aware of a roar that was not the wind. On a hunch, I walked over to the wall and found the sound was coming from within the wall. I could hear the same sound from that wall when I went outside. I went back in and got back to work.

After a while I became aware that the wall was now silent. I went outside to look for the swarm, wandering about the yard, looking high up in the trees and seeing nothing out of the ordinary. I started walking back to the house and paused to look at a couple of bees that passed just in front of my nose. Then I saw it, close enough that I could have reached out and touched it, a large throbbing ball of bees on a branch of our little plum tree. Our beekeeper friend captured that swarm.honey-bees-326334_150

We were never stung by the bees. There were times when we thought longingly about the honey that must be in the wall, but deemed it prudent to leave it there.

Our beekeeper friend derived many spiritual lessons from a honeybee colony. I wish we had talked more and that I remembered more. Like him, I don’t have enough faith in the creative power of time to believe that the intelligence demonstrated in the finely tuned social functioning of the honeybees could be a product of random chance. The fact that an individual honeybee cannot survive independently is a reminder that it was never intended for a Christian to function independently of a body of believers.

I am happy to share our yard with a variety of God’s creatures and feel each one has a purpose and a lesson to teach us. I’m not so sure though about mosquitoes and ticks. Most likely they are part of the curse, at least in their present mode of life. And the skunk who lives under our trailer has to go!

Cloven hooved rodents and Irish Spring soap

I was hauling a load of garbage to the dump this morning; a pickup truck was coming my way, returning from the same errand.  Shortly before we met, a mule deer went bounding across the road between us. Yes, we live in the country where the deer and the antelope roam. Way too many of them, the deer anyway. We consider the deer to be cloven hooved rodents.


Sometimes the deer roam through our yard. I know some readers will be shocked to hear this, but we don’t like them roaming through our yard. They eat our trees. Around here, deer are regarded with approximtely the same amount of affection as mice.

All you Bambi lovers can relax, I don’t own a gun and we don’t use violent methods to keep deer out of our yard. We don’t use commercial deer repellants, either. A tree farmer in British Columbia did an experiment a few years ago, using every brand of commercial deer repellant he could get his hands on, plus deer netting, and Dial soap. None of the commercial products made one bit of difference, the deer contentedly snacked away on his young trees. However, they did avoid the trees where he had hung bars of Dial soap. He thought any strongly scented soap would have the same effect.

Inspired by that report, I started hanging mesh bags of Irish Spring soap next to our young trees. That was over three years ago and there has been no evidence of the deer nibbling on the trees protected by Irish Spring soap.  Those trees have grown very quickly since they stopped being lunch for deer.

I think it would be best to buy the original (stronger-scented) Irish Spring soap for this purpose.


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