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Smelly Socks: Always check that corner twice

By By Johanna Bloom
Jan. 31, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 30, 2013 at 7:31 p.m.




Ranch Life

The boys and I were trapped. "Oh look at that. He is kind of cute. Uh? What? Oh my. Mom, will you look at that?" was what I heard from my expressive 8-year-old son, Jamison. That said, I immediately knew we were in trouble. As I glanced out our back window, I saw the small, black animal that I have always dreaded.

Upon first glance, it could easily have been disregarded as one of our black cats. But upon closer examination, I saw the familiar white streak that runs up its very bushy tail, and my heart sank. A content little skunk was standing guard near our back door. He was not the least bit worried about our two labs lounging on our back porch. This little skunk seemed quite mellow, almost peaceful. Dread immediately set in as we were fixing to head out the door to Victoria. Now, we were stuck waiting for this creature to leave.

Austin and Jamison took watch, peering out of our window that looks out onto the back porch. They watched our little visitor intently, informing me of his every move. The happy little creature was so comfortable that he even yawned. The boys began tapping the window to get his attention and hoping that he would leave.

"What are we going to do?" they asked me. "We?" I was amused at that thought, and I was not interested in getting sprayed. I had never been sprayed by a skunk, but I have heard the horror stories from others, and living on the ranch, I have smelled many a dog that has gone in the fields and come back stinking to high heaven.

That atrocious smell is unforgettable, outright debilitating and not something that I was wanting to experience. I made up my mind that we were just going to have to wait him out.

Soon, they reported wonderful news and asked me to come to the window. "Look Mom. Good-bye Monsieur Pepe Le Pew." Austin informed me. As we looked out, we saw the skunk waddling out into the field. He passed the fence that encompasses our yard, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, freedom seemed attainable, and we could go about our day.

Living in the country, you make the most of every trip you take to the "big city" of Victoria. So, naturally, I had a few things to load up into my car. I opened the back door to head to our driveway. Apparently, that day, some skunks were using our back porch as a sort of love shack, because in a blind corner that you cannot see from the doorway was another skunk. This skunk was not nearly as happy or as content as the previous one. Maybe he was mad because his friend left earlier, or maybe he was just mad because I disturbed him, but this skunk was primed, ready, aiming and waiting for me.

The minute my foot stepped out over the door's threshold, I heard an unhappy hiss. All I saw was a very bushy tail sticking straight up in the air. I got sprayed. The spray was full on and in my face. To make matters worse, I screamed. An open mouth is not advisable when a skunk is unleashing his fury on you. The boys heard my scream, and, like good sons, they came to see what happened.

The minute that they smelled the familiar smell that now was all over me, they knew. "Oh man, Mom. Geez, that is on you?" Austin's big grin let me know that his concern was minimal. Not really knowing what they could do, they just backed away. Jamison immediately started running in the opposite direction to the farthest end of the house. I started coughing and tears were streaming down my face. That smell is just horrible, and I can attest that it doesn't taste any better than it smells. God gave skunks an unusual but extremely effective defense mechanism.

I ran straight to the shower and bagged up all of my clothes. After showering for nearly an hour and using mouthwash until my mouth was numb, the smell and taste were not much better. I made a few frantic phone calls, and once their laughter stopped, I was told all of the familiar mixtures of tomato juice and a mixture of peroxide and dish soap. I am sad to report that nothing really helps but time. After about three days, the skunk smell began to fade.

I learned a valuable lesson about ranch life that day. You have to watch out for those hidden corners, screaming is never a wise choice and never make fun of anyone you know who got sprayed by a skunk because what goes around comes around.

Most importantly, please know that your kids will tell everyone and continue to mention it often and frequently whenever it strikes their fancy. As I went to pick the kids up from school recently, a couple of teachers had heard of my skunk episode from my animated children and shook their heads about it with slight smirks on their faces. I can now laugh about it. But I always check that corner twice.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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