The Summer of the Skunks

How many skunks does it take to make too many? Let me tell you about the summer of the skunks at our shop is Byars, OK. First, you should know that Byars is not a bustling metropolis. The population hovers around 250. Better Barns, where I have been gainfully employed for all of my adult life, is located a little south of Byars. We are in a VERY rural area.

Skunks do live in town sometimes. They are much more common in rural areas, though. It is very common to see (and smell) a dead skunk on the highway on my commute to work. I’m not surprised to see a skunk. But after a while…

One morning about 10:00, we all sat down for our morning break. Conversation drifted from subject to subject as we sat in an irregular circle in the doorway at the back of the shop. Rodney reached down to grab his cup for a drink and nearly patted a skunk on the head! How that little fella got there before anyone saw him, I’ll never know.

Well, you can just imagine Rodney’s reaction. He leaped out of that chair like he’d been jolted with 220! He was across the shop and out the other door before you could say “Skunk!”. The rest of us scattered as well. Everyone except Bob. He just stood there with a half grin on his face watching the skunk run back under a nearby stack of 2×6’s.

Someone decided we should use the forklift to move the 2×6’s so we could get to the skunk. A few minutes later, as the lift began to rise, we caught our first glimpse of the skunk in his new predicament. His tail had been pinned between the fork and the bottom of the lift of lumber! Hanging helplessly, he made an easy target for Vance’s rifle.

It wasn’t long, though, until we had another run-in with one of those striped felines. This one came traipsing through the south bay garage door during lunch break one day that summer. Brad noticed it first and leaped to his feet.

“There’s a skunk!” he hollered, and off he ran to get his nail gun. His plan was a good one, and probably would’ve worked – but there was a minor glitch. In his hurry to get to the nail gun, he took the shortest route across his recently built floor. He had been framing a wall when he stopped for lunch break. Some of the studs were nailed. The first one he stepped on was not and rolled when his weight fully landed on it. He tried desperately to catch his balance, but there was too much momentum. He fell forever!

You’d think all the noise would’ve scared the skunk right back out the door. Nope. He was obviously not one of the brighter skunks around. Instead, he came right on in and headed in the general direction of our little group. We scattered as we had before. Something must have clicked in Mr. Skunk’s head, because he headed back toward the door. Before he made it to the door, he veered to the left and into the corner. He hid behind the support beam there in the corner.

We yelled. We threw stuff. That stubborn skunk just stayed hunkered down behind the beam. Finally, I climbed up on the second purlin on the shop wall with a nail gun. I emptied a couple clips of framing nails into his back. That shop did stink! Just when we were about to just abandon the place and let him have it, he made a run for the door. We let him get outside, and then gave him a ticket to skunk heaven!

Throughout that summer, we met with many other skunks. It was so bad, no one wanted to be the first one there in the morning to open the shop for fear there would be a skunk waiting there in the darkness. Many times as I left after dark, I would see them prowling around the doorway. One time, one came in while I was roofing and slipped under my building.

We very rarely see skunks around the shop now. It is probably due to the great number we dispatched that summer. Whatever the reason, I don’t miss them in the least!