At Least We Didn’t Get Skunked

Term “skunked” is sometimes used to define an overwhelming defeat.

If you read my post from last Thursday I am sure you remember that I was quite discouraged about all the rain that we have been having and concerned that we, like most of the farmers in the area, had not been able to get any planting done.

After a dry Friday, but with more rain in the forecast for Sunday night and the week to follow, my husband decided it was now or never – he must try to get some planting done. He hooked the rototiller to the tractor and was able to till up a portion of the garden. YEA!!!! Then while he worked on planting some cabbage and tomato plants I worked on cutting grass.  What a relief it is to at least have the planting started.

The term “skunked” is also used to describe going fishing and catching nothing.

Feeling good about what we accomplished Saturday, and wanting to used some of the worms he collected while planting in the wet soil, we decided to do some fishing in the evening. We took our poles and the worm bucket out in the boat and loaded worms on our hooks. I dropped my hook in the water and seconds later had my first bite. It ended up being a 4 inch perch (although my husband remembered to bring the tape measure I neglected to bring my camera).

He caught the next fish – a 10 inch bass. It was not our intention to have bass in our pond. We originally stocked it with perch, a few walleye, a few catfish, a few pike and lots of minnows. We intentionally did not include bass. They showed up anyway. How does that happen??? Apparently water birds like ducks, geese and herons can get fish eggs stuck to their feet in one body of water and deposit them in another. Well we have had plenty of ducks, geese and herons visit so that explains it.  After seeing the bass my husband said we probably needed to get more pike as they are predators that would help keep the bass population under control. We had originally only put a few pike in there and hadn’t caught one in several years.

As we continued fishing we caught a quite a few 2-3 inch perch, then we each caught a 9 inch perch. We released them this time, but one day the are going to make a nice dinner. I got the last worm of the night (a very large night crawler). Since we didn’t want it to get nibbled away by small fry my husband peddled the boat around the deeper waters. Suddenly I got a bite. I could tell it was a large fish so I let it play on the line a little and waited for it to relax a bit before reeling it in some. When it got close enough I could see that it was neither a perch or a bass. It also wasn’t a catfish. When it got close enough my husband grabbed the line as I held the fishing pole. As he lifted the fish out of the water “it’s a pike he announced”. Just as he did the fish wiggled and got off the hook. Splash! back into the water it went. We didn’t get to measure it but is was significantly larger than the 10 inch bass he caught. Now we know that the predator fish in there.

Skunked? Not even close! Our Saturday was full of wins!

The term “skunked” can also be used to describe getting sprayed by a skunk.

Sunday morning as my husband and I arrived a the farm we noticed something strange near the pond. The colors were such that, despite never seeing a skunk close up in the daylight before, I knew immediately what it was.

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We had never seen skunks on the farm before, but a couple of years ago Trooper had a smelly encounter with one in the field next door.

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This momma seemed to be as surprised to see us as we were to see her.

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We stayed in our vehicle and watched as she tried to round up her three little ones then hurried them out of sight.

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I suspect our saving grace that morning was that we didn’t have Trooper with us.

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Trooper is a watch dog and would be certain announce to us that he saw something that didn’t belong there. He would do this by barking loudly and incessantly. His barking quite possibly would have made this momma feel threatened. Even if momma and baby had scampered off, Trooper, despite his prior experiences with skunks, would have certainly went looking in their direction once he got out of the van.

Though they are incredibly cute skunks might not be an animal we want inhabiting our farm. Beyond the threat of an encounter with a curious watch dog who doesn’t learn from past experiences, skunks could pose a threat to our chickens. They may not prey on our full grown birds but chicks and eggs may be at risk. Since skunks are generally nocturnal animals and our chickens are closed in a secure coop each night the risk may be low.

Skunks are also know to dine on bees – potentially even honey bees. Again since skunks are nocturnal and honey bees retreat to their hive at night the risk again is somewhat low. As a precaution against wild critters my husband places a brick on top of each bee hive so the critter would first have knock the brick off then knock the top off before being able to get into the hive.

Fortunately the skunks should have a more than adequate food supply on our farm without having to bother our chickens, eggs or bees. There may even be some benefits to having them around according the following excerpt from https://www.nativeanimalrescue.org/got-skunks/ . “Despite their smelly reputation, skunks are beneficial to people. They are opportunistic feeders with about 70% of their diet being insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and wasps. They eat a huge number of agricultural pests, such as army worms, potato beetles and squash bugs. One of their favorite foods is grubs, which they dig up from the soil. A hungry skunk can save people lots of money in terms of the amount of pesticides they might use if the skunk was not at work all night. Skunks will also eat spiders, snails, earthworms, carrion, berries, nuts, roots, small rodents and garbage. An easy source of food will quickly become their favorite, so avoid leaving dog and cat food out at night, which will draw skunks and other unwanted wildlife to your home. Skunks are shy, nocturnal creatures and would rather avoid you than spray you.”

After reading this it is my hope that we can have a peaceful coexistence with these critters – and again we didn’t get skunked.

32 thoughts on “At Least We Didn’t Get Skunked

  1. I never knew the application of ‘skunked’ to fishing & not catching anything. Nor have I ever seen a skunk ‘in real life’, not that I can recall anyway. It’s sweet the mama was rounding up the little ‘uns, perfect timing for you to see the troop! I’d be worried for chicks & eggs too but as you say there’s hopefully enough in the way of other food sources available that they won’t turn to those. xx

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    1. I think it probably is used in fishing because not catching anything feels like an overwhelming defeat. I am glad we got to see them and I got the photos but mostly it good that we are aware of their presence so we can keep an eye out for issues they might cause.

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  2. We have skunk families occasionally here also…and yes the little ones are so cute! I am jealous you got to go fishing….I love to fish and hope to get to do that more this summer. I am also glad you had some planting time…it does help the morale.

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  3. Those furry babies are adorable trailing after Mom. Interesting about the skunks and I never knew they had such a variety to their diet. That they like spiders and rodents makes me say skunks are alright with me!

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      1. Trooper would certainly get in to trouble. He is so curious about other animals that he would offend them for sure and once they spray they are not so cute anymore. Scout wouldn’t be much of a problem nowadays because he has lost his eyesight and doesn’t get around to well.

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      2. If it were only as easy as a tomato juice bath. No that doesn’t work. Baking soda and peroxide work to some degree but to get rid of the smell completely it takes TIME. Even when you think it is all gone if the dog gets wet the smell returns.

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      3. Oh I didn’t know that Ruth. I’ve just heard about the tomato juice and din’t know that it really didn’t work. We had dogs when I was young, but did not live in a rural area so skunks were not a problem (although we had a pack of dogs in the neighborhood and a neighbor put out poison and our pet poodle escaped, under the fence and ate it and had to be euthanized).

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      4. I don’t know how the tomato juice thing got started but I had heard that a lot growing up too.
        When the boys have gotten sprayed in the past the smell is just putrid and makes me nauseated. I understand that if the spray gets in their eyes it can even cause blindness so it important to keep the boys away from skunks.
        Sad about your poodle.

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      5. It is likely an old wives tale been going around for years and it seems to me that I heard an ad for, or a story about, one of the large box pet stores that they have a bath solution for dog who have been sprayed by a skunk. They actually do the washing of the dog, just like a grooming appointment.
        That was enterprising of them to think of that – not everyone wants the smell in their house. Our poodle was a handful – he never obeyed anything you tried to teach him and he dug under the fence and escaped. He came home foaming at the mouth and my mom had to call my father at work to come home and take him to the vet, then they picked me up at school and told me. I heard the first West Nile Virus mosquito has been found today in Pontiac. Between the ticks and the mosquitoes this year … scary to go out and walk in any parks or woodsy areas anymore with all the rain and swampy areas. I understand from a girl at the Park that she found two ticks already after walking there. She put it down to cutting through the Park on the grass – I do walk on the grass all the time when I take pictures … not so happy to hear that. I hope this weekend rain will not mess you up Ruth.

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      6. I may be avoiding the parks with the trails as it was so swampy last week in that woodsy portion. We don’t get too many mosquitoes at Council Point Park as it is not too dense – I was surprised there were ticks there though. My friend lives in Kingsville, Ontario and does tracking with her dogs. She uses a mixture of Skin-So-Soft by Avon and it repels the mosquitoes without using spray. I remember hearing that remedy years ago and she swears by it.

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  4. They are such beautiful creatures! I walked out on my front porch one night to find one in my yard. It was the first time I’d ever been that close to one and it was magnificent! And yes, grateful I did get skunked. 🙂

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