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Sunday, August 12, 2012


            My morning routine begins while it is still dark with a few laps around the track at Weber High School. I typically walk up the hill, stretch, and jog 10-12 laps, but this past Monday as I started my first circuit, I saw something in the shadows moving towards me. Most days I wouldn't be overly concerned because there are joggers, cats, deer, mice, owls, rabbits and other wildlife often making use of the track; but on this day the animal ambling towards me was distinctive in its waddle and double white body stripe. I came to a screeching halt, turned the opposite direction, and ran. I am almost positive that had I been running alongside the Olympic track athletes at that moment, I would have taken the gold medal in the Monday Morning Dash and possibly set a new world record in the event.
            When I finally slowed to a walk, the memory of a Millard County skunk floated into my memory like a bad smell. I wish I had been able to run away from that one and the scent that lingered for days back in 1979.
            We knew our chickens were receiving a late-night caller in the form of some kind of clawed, egg-loving animal. My dad was on alert and had his gun ready on the third night of disturbances. He rushed out into the dark when the chickens started making noises; the rest of us were awakened by shots. I'm not sure which sense first warned my father of type of critter he had killed, but when he came in, he gruffly instructed my brothers and me, "Go out and bury the skunk I killed in the coop."
            All of Hinckley had to have been aware a skunk was in town that morning--it reeked! Jim, Mark, and I took a flashlight and a shovel down to the chicken coop but could not believe our poor, watering eyes when we saw the size of the thing lying in the dirt. The chickens were all huddled in a corner terrified by the racket or possibly nearly asphyxiated by the stench. The surrounding air was so saturated with scent that it appeared yellow, felt wet, and tasted nasty! The closer we got to the toxic cloud the more painful it was to breathe and see.
            In that terrible atmosphere, we debated over the pros and cons of digging the hole close to the coop so we wouldn't have to move the skunk far OR of digging the hole across the lot from the coop where the air quality was slightly better, but we would have to move the body further. We opted to dig a hole close to the coop, but first we ran back to the house and got wet towels to cover our eyes, noses and mouths. We each took turns holding our breath and digging a few scoops then handing the shovel to the next one while we stepped away and breathed through the wet cloth. When we finally had a sizeable hole, we staggered into the chicken run and forced the blade of the shovel under the skunk to drag him through the coop, out the door, and into our waiting hole. We were surprised at the heft of the dead skunk and argued about how much he weighed through moans, groans, and streaming eyes. Unfortunately our hole wasn't near big enough for the huge creature. We stuffed him in as best we could and started mounding dirt on top, hoping a good Millard County breeze would start clearing the air and that hot showers would cleanse the smell from us. As I recall, it took quite a number of windy days and scalding showers to finally deodorize our property and our hair of that scent.
            Walking home Monday without having completed my morning ritual, my eyes started watering and the back of my throat felt oily from that memory. Then I thought about how fast I had just run and the cardio workout I had experienced without even making one full trip around the track. I realized that a skunk could be a powerful Olympic training tool. What great motivation to move fast! Records are bound to be smashed with that kind of stimulus! Watch out Rio de Janeiro in 2016!

1 comment:

wendy said...

Oh my horrible.
Interestingly enough...our dog got sprayed 2 weeks ago.
Just a "light" spray....she found the skunk in amongst some old tires and started sticking her nose where it "didn't belong".
Hubby went right to the vet and got some stuff to shampoo into her....and the smell was GONE !!!
Thank goodness.
Has been a fear of mine ever since we got the dog that she'd get sprayed by a skunk. She thinks everything is something to be played with.
It is terrible smelling stuff, and I haven't even experienced it to the level you did back then.