November 2013
Through the Fence

Midnight Skunk

There are several shocking ways to be awakened in the middle of the night - a baby crying, a child throwing up, the sound of goats on the porch or horses stomping in the front yard. Add to that list, the smell of a nearby skunk. Of course, there’s never a good time for that olfactory assault. My friend Melanie had that unpleasant experience the other night. She crept out of bed in the wee hours of the morning trying not to disturb her sleeping husband Mike. He wouldn’t have been much help since his eyesight is so poor. And by the time he put his contacts in, the skunk would have been gone anyway.

Since she lives far out in the boondocks and because it was dark, she didn’t bother dressing, but just slipped on her flip flops, grabbed a .22 and a flashlight. She followed her nose out towards the hen house. She was kind of nervous walking out there. She didn’t want to startle the skunk in the dark and get sprayed. It might be hard to explain to her boss why she had to miss work.

When she got out there, several chickens had already managed to push the door open enough to escape the midnight marauder. When she opened the door all the way, the rest of the birds fluttered out. Melanie shone the light on the perch, which was only a few inches off the ground. The skunk was right underneath. He turned to go back under the edge of the building where he’d entered, so she knew she must act fast. Wedging the light between her shaky knees, she lifted the gun to her shoulder and shot. Luckily, the smell didn’t intensify.

She turned and walked to the barn to grab a hoe to drag the skunk out of the hen house. She only hoped she’d be able to persuade the nervous chickens to go back inside and roost for the night. When she returned, she found the wounded skunk trying to crawl away. Once more she fired, that time hitting it in the head. She removed the dead animal and went back to relocate the flock of chickens huddled nervously in the barnyard.

When she got back to the house, all the lights were on. Mike met her at the back door. He’d been able to sleep through the skunk smell, but the sound of gunfire awoke him with a jolt. Finding Melanie missing was even more alarming.

"What in the world happened?" he asked as his scantily clad wife strode casually through the back door, gun in hand.

"Oh nothing," she said glibly, "just had to shoot a skunk in the hen house."

He heaved a sigh of relief and they went back to bed to attempt a decent night’s sleep. The smell of skunk still hung heavy in the house, but Melanie could relax knowing her chickens were safe for another night.

"Maybe we need a bigger dog," she thought to herself as she drifted off.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..