A Skunk and a Chicken (and Me and You)

My wife shot at a skunk with a handgun last week and I have a rooster that is unable to tell time currently residing in a crate just outside of my bedroom window.  That sentence alone totally obliterates my assertion that my neck isn’t red.  I may as well buy a few cans of Skoal, stop enunciating, and add “Wally-World” to my vocabulary.

On my list of fun things to do, owning farm animals falls somewhere south of bobbing for piranhas and watching all eleven episodes of Cop Rock.  If you are unfamiliar with Cop Rock, it was part NYPD Blue and part worst-hour-of-your-life.  It was a musical cop show that aired on ABC in 1990 until it was cancelled.  My choice between those two would probably be bobbing for piranhas because at least then I would have a cool story to tell if my tongue managed to survive.

The farm animals were entirely my wife’s idea.  Her heart’s desire has always included having a mini-farm of sorts; my heart’s desire has always included not stepping in animal poop.  Eventually, her mind became set on having goats and chickens.  Those were not bad choices based upon my Poop-O-Meter. 

Goat poop looks like Raisinets and is fairly hard which makes it difficult to get on the bottom of your shoes.  Chicken poop disappears.  I have no scientific evidence for that last statement, only the anecdotal evidence of having never seen poop in the chicken coop.  It could be that other chickens have visible poop and our chickens have magic poop or that our chickens eat their own poop.  Either way is fine with me as long as I don’t have to step in it.  Unfortunately, the smell is still there whether their poop is or not.

Our chicken coop is currently under our back porch.  That is, my wife attached chicken wire to the wood under our porch and used stakes to pin the wire to the ground.  She then fashioned a gate out of the wire and old pieces of scrap wood.  My wife is from Alabama.  Apparently, being from Alabama means knowing how to do things like this and not really caring how it looks.  I’m not from Alabama.

Our chicken population has shrunk over the last little bit.  First, our 6 big laying hens who had access to the freedom of our backyard during the day became enamored with the studly rooster who lives next door and jumped the fence to get to him.  Sadly, their blossoming romance with the rooster came to an abrupt end due to a fox that cared more about his stomach than their shot at true love. 

About a month after “the girls” met their untimely demise, two of our 5 silkie chickens managed to break free from the coop.  Instead of using their new-found freedom to benefit other fowl still in captivity, they meandered over into the neighbor’s yard to see what they could see.  They saw a dog that liked the taste of chicken.  And then there were three:  Cotton, Sara, and Blue. 

It was a little after 10:30pm last Monday night when we went out to feed and water the critters.  I made my way to the side of the house to turn the water on and Kristy headed toward the chickens.  And that is when she started yelling and ran inside the house.  It sounded like she was saying, “I don’t like Charles Dickens!” over and over.  As I stood in the darkness watching her barge through the back door of the house, I wondered what she had against the most popular novelist of the Victorian Era.  Then I wondered what had triggered such an outburst of vitriol against poor Charles while secretly being thankful that I was not the object of her scorn. 

I followed her inside, not knowing if Dickens was the only dead writer she hated or if her anger was kindled against others like John Milton or Emily Dickinson or even (could it be) Dr. Seuss!  That is when I saw her walking  toward me with a gun in her hand.  I was just about to throw my hands up and say “I’m not Charles Dickens!” when she told me that there was a skunk in the chicken coop and he was eating Blue.  What she had been yelling was, “Don’t go near the chickens!” 

While I was relieved that she did not hold ill will toward any deceased icons of classic literature, I was a little worried about her storming wild-eyed toward a skunk with a loaded weapon.  I could picture her blasting away indiscriminately–hitting the skunk, the other chickens, water pipes, her own feet. 

We crept quietly down the porch, onto the lawn, and made a large loop around the side of the chicken coop.  I offered to do the shooting, but Kristy was adamant about taking care of the chicken eating punk herself.  She gripped the gun with both hands, got into her best Cagney and Lacey crouch, and eased  toward the coop.  Where was her valiant husband?  Standing outside of the spray-zone, that’s where. 

When she got close enough to the coop and was at the correct angle, I saw her raise the gun up and pull the trigger.  And then she ran like the dickens (not to be confused with Charles Dickens) back toward me.  After standing there for a few short moments, we gingerly traipsed back hoping that one bullet had done the trick, but the skunk was gone.

Kristy was sure that she had hit the skunk, but he was nowhere to be found.  Could eating the chicken caused the skunk to  disappear just like the magic chicken poop?  Probably not.  It is more likely that the skunk had gotten startled and high-tailed it out from whence he came. 

After looking around unsuccessfully for the possibly wounded skunk, we caught Cotton and Sara and decided put them in a crate on the porch directly beside the bedroom window that just happens to match up perfectly to my side of the bed.  This temporary solution would not be a big deal if Cotton weren’t a little “touched in the head” (as my grandmother used to say).

When Cotton was a baby rooster or a chick or whatever I’m supposed to call infant male chickens, the kids enjoyed carrying him around the back yard.  The combination of an unlevel back yard and a couple of kids not known for having above-par balance meant that a few tumbles were taken with Cotton in tow.  I think that poor Cotton may have taken a few shots to the noggin. 

I realize that Chickens are known for having below average intelligence, but Cotton seems more below average than your average yard-bird.  It doesn’t bother me that Cotton is stupid; I am not a chicken snob.  What bothers me is that his stupidity is causing me to lose sleep.

If Cotton was a normal rooster and would adhere to the normal rooster policy of only crowing in the morning, I would have no problem with his lack of gray matter.  Cotton is not a normal rooster.  Sometimes he crows during the middle of the day.  Sometimes he crows in the evening.  Sometimes he crows at 10pm.  And sometimes he crows at various times throughout the night.

Every night over this past week I have gone to bed with hopes that Cotton will remain quiet until morning and that I will get an uninterupted night of slumber.  I have yet to have this hope fulfilled.  I have even talked to him about my situation.  I have threatened to have fried Cotton for supper.  He doesn’t listen; or he may listen and just not care.

My lack of sleep is the only reason I care about any of this.  I do not care that Blue was eaten by a skunk.  I do not care that the skunk got shot.  I do not care that Cotton and Sara are in temporary housing in a crate on the porch.  I do not care that Cotton has brain damage.  Even though I’m sure that God cares about all of the animals that he created, I only care how all of this affects me. 

After following the Savior for over 21 years now, I am still shallow at times.  This incident assisted in showing me a sobering truth: there are times when I only care about me.  I am saddened to admit that I care about me too much.  The same seems to be true to pretty much everybody else.  I’m not sure if I feel good that I am in the majority or bad that there are so many of us who should be like Jesus, but instead act more like jerks.

Most of us do not care about the massive oil spill in the Gulf unless it ruins our vacation plans.  When there is a hurricane, we tend to care more about the price of gasoline rising than about the people who have had their lives turned upside down.  If a waitress moves too slowly because she has to work 2 jobs just to keep food on the table for her children that she is raising by herself, we become agitated.  When things don’t go “our way,” criticism ensues before we try to understand the views of others.

I am too important to me and you are too important to you.  It took a skunk eating a chicken to open my eyes to my pre-occupation with me.  Maybe it has done the same for you.

Let’s improve.  Let’s beg God to make us more like Jesus.  Let’s do it now.

(Have you ever had a run-in with a skunk?  Do you find yourself only caring about yourself?  Share away!)

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8 thoughts on “A Skunk and a Chicken (and Me and You)

  1. Matt, that’s a great story! Thanks for sharing. I’ve always harbored a hope of having a little mini-farm like that. Sadly, I also am not from Alabama, and know nothing about caring for chickens. So I’m taking it one step at a time with a little garden for now. Maybe someday.

    • Thanks Matt–great name by the way. You not being from Alabama is nothing to be sad about–it is the armpit of the South.

  2. That was hilarious, and altogether too pointed as well. We do indeed often think far too much of ourselves.

    Just so you know: I’ve never secretly harbored any desire to have farm animals. In fact, I’m a pet snob and think far more of our cat than our two dogs. It’s just the way I am.

    On a personal note, I’m glad we’ve gotten to interact a little on Twitter. Always glad to make new friends!

    Thanks for linking this on Bryan’s blog!

  3. Great story. My husband wants a mini-farm eventually too. Chickens and goats would be right up his alley. He’s from Ohio and I am from Massachusetts. We now live in North Carolina. Add those three together and you still don’t get enough letters to spell Alabama. Thanks for sharing.

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