In late September 2012 my sisters and I gathered at our family farm for a 10 day stay. Dad was scheduled for a heart procedure and we expected to sit in the hospital waiting room for a few hours then bring him home. We could spend the rest of the week visiting and reconnecting. The surgery didn’t go as planned so we ended up staying at the hospital overnight. The next morning Leisa and I drove to the farm. We’d had very little sleep in the last few days and desperately needed showers and actual beds for a few hours.
Dori asked us to feed her dogs while we were there. She had a chocolate lab, a dobie, an Anatolian shepherd, a husky, and a mastiff—her babies were huge! They had doggie-door access to the yard for potty breaks and bark-at-nothing episodes, but their mealtime regimen is strict: “Pretty eats in her crate out of the purple bowl. Mary uses the stainless steel bowl and eats on the back porch. Oh, and give her two green pills in a spoon full of peanut butter. Java gets extra kibble….”
Ok. So we’ll take care of them, then it’ll be quiet and we can get some sleep.
We pulled into the driveway. Strange—no dogs outside and no barking. There was also a slight skunk odor in the air. I hope they don’t have a skunk cornered in the barn.
We stepped out of the car. The skunk odor was stronger. Ugh. It’s got to be in the garage or under the house. But still no dogs. Very strange!
As we opened the back door to the house, the skunk odor hit us like a ton of bricks. Whoa! Walking further into the house, we finally found the dogs. Five happy faces greeted us in the dining room—three furry babies lying peacefully on the floor and two standing guard over a dog bed in the far corner. Almost perfectly intact and nicely displayed on the comfy, brand new dog bed—the skunk!
Leisa freaked and ran toward the back door, screaming, “Whadda we do? Who do we call?”
I stepped in front of her and grabbed her shoulders—y’know… sort of like a Thanks-I-Needed-That slap. I yelled, “Nobody to call! We’ve got to do this ourselves!”
The dogs reeked! First priority—get them out of the house. To do that, we had to get them interested in something besides their newfound play-toy. Ok… food. But at that point, we’d completely forgotten the feeding regimen. We drug five huge crates out of the house and into the garage, filled a bowl with food for each dog, and enticed them—one by one—away from the skunk. With crate latches secured, we tackled the carnage in the dining room.
Eeeww! A dead animal! How do we get it out of the house without touching it? How do we sleep in the stink once it’s gone? We grabbed cleaning supplies, rubber gloves, window fans, and the closest, long-handled garden tools—anything we could use to clean up the mess while keeping our distance from that dead thing. Did I mention Eeeww?
On closer inspection, we realized that the skunk’s claws were imbedded in the dog bed. Oh great! No way to move it separately. So using the garden tools, we scooped up the bundle between us and headed out the front door. Halfway down the porch steps, it over balanced and flipped onto its side almost hitting our feet. Freaky! That’s when in an adrenaline rush, we grabbed the corners of the bed and flung it across the yard where it landed upside down in the bean field. Fine! Let it get plowed under—we’ll buy Dori another one.
Then we went back in the house to scrub the dining room. Luckily the bedroom doors had been closed the whole time so the smell wasn’t too bad there—but what about the rest of the house? That’s where the fans came in. Positioned in open windows and set on exhaust, they did a wonderful job of directing the smell away—and as an added bonus; they muffled the sounds of whimpering dogs who thought they were being terribly mistreated.
Dori complained later that we’d left the garden tools in the front yard for everybody to see. “What will the neighbors think?” Plus the fact that there was a dog bed in the bean field… Guess you can take the girls out of the country but you can’t take the hick out of the girls.
The scene reminds me of the famous painting, American Gothic. But instead of a stoic couple standing in front of a farmhouse… substitute two crazed, middle-aged women—complete with stringy hair and dark bags under their eyes—holding not only a pitchfork but also a bright red snow shovel.
All we wanted was some sleep!
It’s been nice chatting with you all. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!