Uninvited Resident

The other day I came around the corner near a grain bin, and saw this little fellow.

Even from behind, I recognized him. Just a couple weeks ago, he ran out in front of me while I was feeding grain to the calves, stopped within a foot of me, looked all around, got his bearings, and then headed off to the barn.

Yes, it’s a striped skunk. He lives in the barn up at the farm. If I was to run into a skunk in the wild, I would run for the hills, but here on the farm, they are just another resident. We see him from time to time. He’s used to us, and as long as we give him his space, he goes on about his business and we do the same.

Skunks are normally docile, and would rather leave than fight. If provoked they will spray and are accurate up to 12 feet.

They can live up to 5 years in the wild. They eat insects, mice, rats, bird and turtle eggs, earthworms, frogs, crayfish, fruits, and grain crops. They also eat catfood, and I’ve seen them eating side by side with the barn cats, who must think of him as a strange looking cat.

I used to think of skunks as just an animal that caused a big stink -a menace to country travelers.

Then one night a couple years ago, I went out on a short errand. I stopped at a crossroads and noticed several baby skunks dead in the road, obviously the victim of a vehicle passing through. I didn’t see their mom anywhere though. About 10 minutes later, I was headed back home, and stopped at the same crossing. This time though, the mother was there, and I watched as she carefully picked up one of her dead young in her mouth like a cat does with kittens, carried it to the edge of the road out of harms way, and then returned to collect the next one. She did this repeatedly until all her kids were off the road. I felt so bad for her. It was one of the saddest things I’d ever seen, watching her struggle to pick up each of her half grown young and carry them to the edge of the roadway. Whether she understood they were dead or not, she was still trying to do her best to take care of them.

Since then I have a new appreciation for the skunk.

And now I really like them – from a distance.

 

27 comments to Uninvited Resident

  • awww, Suzanne, that is the sweetest/saddest story ever! That poor mamma skunk! I can definitely understand your new appreciation for skunks after seeing that.

    I think it’s pretty interesting that you have a resident skunk on your farm…well, uninvited resident!

    • Suzanne

      I think about her often as that crossroads is not too far from our house Bonnie. 🙁 But it is kinda neat having them around the farm. There’s one at the main farm and another in the barn near our house.

  • What a sad, sad story. Another example of a mother’s love. (sniff, sniff)

    I don’t think I’ve ever really seen photos like this of a skunk. It does kind of look like a cat with a fluffy tail. Maybe the only skunks I’ve seen in person are dead ones beside the road (usually right after we notice that smell).
    Glad everyone lives peacefully around your place!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Dianna,
      I didn’t realize how soft their fur looked until I looked at these pics. I think the cats think of it as a just another cat too. One time Harland was lifting a small straw bale and there was a cat and skunk sleeping together behind it.

  • Chefweezie

    Skunks are so cool………from a distance!

    We had a pet one (descented of course), for a short time, at one of the vet clinics I worked at. They’re pretty smart too- “Flower” would stamp and whirl around like she was going to spray people when she first met them, but once she knew you she wouldn’t do it anymore!

  • Tina

    Ahhhhh! What a nice story. How sad. The skunk is actually quite cute and I had no idea they were so fluffy. I also have only seen them after they have been hit on the road. I also never knew a barn cat would share dinner with a skunk!! How funny.

  • Monica

    What a bittersweet story of a mother skunk’s love. I am the only one I know who loves the faint scent of skunk on a summer night. I’m weird, I already know that.

  • Glenda

    Is this the barn with the cats and the stall for little calves?
    I bet it’s getting the cat food if there is any left after the barn cats get done.

  • When we lived in the Sierras above Chico, CA, a skunk used to come in the cat door at night. At first, we couldn’t figure out how we were going through 18 pounds of cat kibble in two weeks when we only had two cats of our own…then I saw the skunk. My cats just sat and watched as he ate their food.

    Later that same night, two raccoons came in. They like cat food, too.

    Then we discovered that nearly every stray and domesticated cat in the area was coming in to eat the kibble at night. That’s when we started closing the cat door at night, although we did leave kibble outside for the strays.

    Nothing like finding a skunk in your kitchen to put the fear in ya…and they’re big! Two or three times as large as our cats!

    I’m not surprised the mama skunk was carrying her babies off the road–we just don’t give animals enough credit.

    Jules

    • Suzanne

      Hi Sparkly,
      I’ll bet you wondered! Eighteen pounds of food for 2 cats in 2 weeks! How funny! We feed our barn cats in the morning as most of the critters that would steal it sleep during the day. This helps cut down on our catfood usage. 🙂

  • Evelyn

    I think you were pretty brave to take a picture of the back end as it was facing you! I startled one while driving the other week and he/she had that tail up in a flash! As I zipped by, freaked because I was square in range, it took off for parts unknown. I was thankful!

  • Glyndalyn

    Great post. Thanks being a publicist for skunks.

  • I’m with you Suzanne. Poor skunks get such a bad rap.

    What a sad story about that mamma skunk and her babies. 🙁

    • Suzanne

      Hi Justina,
      Don’t they though? I don’t know that I would have changed my opinion much if I hadn’t seen that poor mama skunk though. They are so cute when you really look at them.

    • Suzanne

      BTW, am so enjoying your posts about Patrick, the donkey you rescued, over on your blog. What a special time for all of you there, and thank you Justina for sharing it with us.

  • Doe of Mi.

    Eating the cat food and living in the barn.
    That little stinker!

  • Sally Bishop

    Similar story: we put out a sticky mouse trap in an old farm house we were renting. The next morning a mouse was stuck to the trap and another was sitting next to it. The thought we had caught it’s mate and it had stayed beside it almost made me get rid of the traps. . . almost.

  • Moms are moms no matter what the species. It’s nice that you and the skunk have a good “working relationship”.

  • Thanks for sharing the skunk mom story. I see too many dead animals on the road. The newts are leaving the creeks in our area and going back uphill. They have a corridor they cross a local country road. I stopped to move one off the road the other day, and a car that saw me waiting patiently at the side of the road, swung out into the middle to be polite when going around me and squashed the very newt I stopped to save. Ouch, I felt really bad. The next day, I carefully moved two newts without incident. I wish people would . I might put a Newt Crossing sign up on my driveway – it’s only a few weeks a year that they are out.

    • Suzanne

      Awww……kudos to you for caring about the newts. All life has value doesn’t it? I feel guilty about running over wooly worms here in the fall when they cross the road, and try to avoid them. I’ve also moved turtles off the road in the spring.

  • Shirley

    This was a great story! I had skunks living under my home for a year I thought they were possums so I tried to cover up the exits each night for a year. UNTIL on New Years we pulled up in the drive way and saw one. Still refusing to believe it had been skunks I was trying to vacate from under the house I kept watch. Two nights later I saw 2 skunks one looked like your photo the other was unbelievably huge and WHITE! The most beautiful skunk I had ever seen! It was somewhat black underneath I looked it up and it was a Hog-nosed skunk! It’s tail up as a plume it looked amazing and different. However it is still a skunk so I removed all entrances it had to go under my home. It lives next door under a maintenance shed now.

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