An Exceedingly Bad Moment

LeAnn posted this blog on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 5:29 am

As I do every night, Tuesday evening I went out to check on my horses and to give them a treat of grain and some more hay before I went to bed.

I waited until my little black mare, Isabelle, came up to the fence, then I dumped some grain into her fence feeder. I headed over to Selena’s tub to dump a little grain for her. Selena is my half-blind Appaloosa mare. She had apparently been in the barn, cleaning up her hay.

I poured the grain, and Selena made her way over to her bright pink tub to eat. I selected a bright pink feed tub because I was hoping the color would help her be able to find it. So far, she has been finding her feed tub extremely well. We have a dusk-to-dawn light that provides at least some illumination in the pastures at night.

Then I headed to the barn to get some hay for both horses. I reached around the barn door and turned on the wonderful solar light my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago. The solar light is just the cat’s meow.

I had no sooner turned on the light,though, when it hit me.

The smell of. . .


No doubt about it.


Not SKUNK like a skunk had just sprayed, but SKUNK as in, the animal is in the barn, close by.

The solar light is great, but it does not light every corner of the barn, and the open bales of hay were a long ways away. All the way around the tractor.

Now what was I going to do?

I headed back to the house for my handy-dandy wind-up flashlight.

I returned to the barn and stood in the doorway.

I wound up the flashlight. It doesn’t make a lot of noise, but still, it makes noise, a low kind of grinding sound when you wind it up.

I sang. (“Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun. Me a name I call myself. . .”)

I banged on the door.

I kicked the tractor bucket.

I slid the door back and forth.

I stomped around.

All I could see was a couple of the barn cats. The cat food dishes were empty. Suspiciously empty. I imagine that the skunk helped himself.

“Sorry kitties. You’re going to have to wait until morning. If I put out more food now, the skunk will probably eat it all.” The kitties have food in their dishes all day long, so they can eat as much as they want during the day.

I went back to stomping around and banging on the door.

I was at it so long that Selena, bless her heart, finished her grain and then came into the barn to find out what I was up to. She stood there, cocking her head in that way she has so she can see better.

“I know, I know. You want some hay,” I said.

I tiptoed past the tractor and shined my flashlight around.

Nothing black and white that I could see.

I grabbed some hay and threw it over the fence. Then I picked up another armful and crawled through the fence. Selena followed me outside. She likes to eat hay both inside and outside, and I like to leave plenty around so she can find it when she wants it.

Selena happily started munching her hay, and I went back in the barn to get more hay for Isabelle. The smell of skunk was still in the barn. On my way out, I turned off the solar light.

Isabelle, too, was wondering what was taking me so long, I think.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised there was a skunk in the barn. January 31 was a very mild day for West Central Wisconsin with a high in the 40s. It was still above freezing when I went out to check on the horses. We had a lot of trouble last fall with skunks coming up on the porch to eat the cat food I would leave out for my big gray tom, Long John Silver. It got to the point where we would leave a couple of candles burning at the end of the porch. The candles seemed to keep the skunks away. The citronella candles seemed to work the best.

We never had trouble with skunks around the buildings while we still had our Springer Spaniel, Charlie. But our beloved Charlie died three years ago. And my beloved Shetland Sheepdog, Pixie, died last summer. So now there’s no dog scent around the yard at all.

I’d like to get another dog. But  you can’t have a dog outside all day long when there is no one at home. Or a dog inside, either, for that matter, to be by itself all day.

Well, all-righty then. Now I guess I’m going to be on hyper-alert every time I go down to the barn after this in the dark. . .

LeAnn R. Ralph

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