Monday, February 08, 2016

We Bought a Farm: A skunk in the chicken coop

Home from church.

Stopped at the gate. It still isn't electric meaning we have to get out, open gate, drive through, get out, and close gate.

(It's annoying.)

(But there are about 4,733 things ahead of it in priority order for the farm.)

So it must be opened manually.

Over and over and over again.

I was driving JB's big ol' truck. That thing is a hoss. (My van is in the shop.) I am not exactly short, and I still have to nearly jump out to disembark from the cabin.

(You should see Joni get in and out. It makes me laugh.)

Anyways. The truck. Me. Disembarked.

I glanced toward our bird enclosure. Currently, the chicken tractor is actually in the duck and geese enclosure. It's a long story, but we are preparing to move them into their egg-mobile, and decided we'd just put the duck and geese enclosure around them instead of doing a lot of extra work to relocate the tractor.

As I glanced, I noticed two chickens running around wildly outside of their chicken tractor. I also noticed the ducks and geese racing back and forth quite frantically. Something was not right. I couldn't figure out what. Was it that two chickens were lose that was sending all the birds into a frenzy? I saw that their tractor door was caved in. Either they popped it open or something was trying to get into it.

Cue the skunk.

A little skunk was inside the enclosure sniffing back and forth. Each time he went one way, all the birds went racing the other way.

Smart birds.

But after a few seconds of enjoying the show (and making sure to keep my distance), I realized that something had to be done. We couldn't let the skunk stay in with the birds. I knew that skunks are definitely fans of eggs and have also been known to take down a chicken.

But how do I get him out?

I swallowed. The answer obvious.

He'd have to be shot.

I knew it instantly. But I also knew that JB had just come off a night shift and was asleep for what we hoped would be the entire day since he worked another shift that night.

I called JB's parents.

No answer on either phone. They must still be at church. And if they were in church, Billy was in church.

Who to call?

I called my fellow-adoptive-homeschool-Christian-farmer-mom Karen to make sure I was thinking this through correctly. Anyway around killing him? No. He had to be killed. Not only was he presently a problem, but he now knew where the birds and eggs were (we've been getting up to 23 a day!), and he would be back.

I drove up the driveway feeling very stressed out. JB has been talking about taking me shooting. He's already taken the boys shooting. But life is busy, and I still have no earthly idea how to use a gun. Even though I now own one.

(Did I tell you JB got me one for Christmas? That was my present. For real. I still can't believe this is my new life.)

I reached the top of the driveway and breathed an amazing sigh of relief.

Grampa.
Was.
Home.

He was working on the egg-mobile. He had forgotten to turn his phone on after church.

Can you kill a skunk? I asked.

And Grampa was gone. Sidge close on his heels. And Isaac and Abigail watching cautiously from our yard.

A few minutes later I heard the shots and knew the job was done.

(We hear gunshots a lot around here. It's actually a pretty common sound.)

It's interesting having to shoot a pest/predator. I don't like killing animals -- especially ones we cannot eat, but I immediately recognized the necessity of it when it comes to protecting our animals. So did our kids. We have to choose what we value more. And in this case, the decision was obvious. The law allows us to take down predators on our property.

Because of the high fences surrounding our property, this is actually the first predator, other than hawks (and we are pretty sure it was a red tail hawk that took out three of our ducks), that we have seen on our property.

He was actually really cute.

Next week's lesson?

Teach Wendi to shoot.

If Dad and John are both MIA, I have to be able to take care of a situation like this. I can't even believe I am saying this, and I have no idea how I will feel about having to do it, but it's amazing how my life here has made it very clear that I know what has to be done.

And that I think I could do it.

I've put out fires. I've walked through manure. I've fed and watered and cleaned some dirty things. I've collected eggs. I've processed chickens. I've moved animals from one pasture to the next.

Bring it on.

3 comments:

Jen Altman said...

How fun! Hubby and I met a lady with a pet skunk once, but they are not allowed in MD. We are thinking of getting pigs though...

annette @ A net in time said...

your other option would be trap him and take him a good 25 miles away OVER a river. I am slower to kill critters and choose to reinforce housing and then do things to scare the offender away. (low lying electric fences work a wonder). Last resort is always to kill. (got that from my farmer father). :)

Well behaved skunks eat a lot of bad bugs. :)

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Annette, I actually don't disagree with you. However there is also a big factor on time and who is present to help etc. To set up a trap, catch an animal, and drive it 20 miles, you are at a half-day loss of one person on the farm and if I'm being honest, that factors in. Our time is valuable. But I never disagree that trying to do no harm isn't a bad thing.