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Daddy and the Skunk
Frozen Stiff but Still Full of Stink
I think I must have had the best dad in the whole world. He was quiet and reserved. Daddy was the first son and earned a PHD in life growing up on a farm during the depression years. He knew farming and helped with the chores. Often using a cross cut saw with his older sister whom he affirmed was the best cross cut saw partner he ever had. They cut and hewed cross ties which were hauled to Tuxedo and the Zirconia train station. It was a lot of hard work and days were long with daddy often driving the team of oxen home during hours after the sun had set.
As a young boy daddy like many of the boys who grew up in the Zirconia area enjoyed trapping. I think it was a tradition handed down from family to family. Skins from the trapped animals could be sold in town and even though the prices for raw hides weren't that great, the monies derived went to buy necessary things. I remember daddy telling me this story about a skunk he had caught in one of his traps.
"I'd go check my traps first thing in the morning and one cold January morning I found a big old skunk in one of my traps. The poor thang had died and was frozen stiff as a wood poker. I gently release the skunk, he said, and reset the trap in another spot. I then picked the critter up being careful not to bump his rear end where the canon of foul smelling stuff was still loaded. I knew it could go off and cove me with that awful stuff no amount of mama's lye soap could remove."
Daddy said he carried the skunk home and laid it up in the horse apple tree in the front yard and intended to skin it after breakfast and after it had thawed a bit. He went back outside about 2 hours later and reached to get the skunk. Grabbing it by the hind legs, one slipped out of his hand and all the venomous stink and the revenge of one tormented skunk were immediately sprayed all over him.
Daddy didn't say whether he finished skinning that skunk or not but I'm pretty sure the skunk found lodging in another place. Daddy's clothes were burned and it took lots of baths to rid himself of the skunk smell.
Years later, we had a skunk, one he had caught while coon hunting. Daddy kept it in a wire cage and later it was given away to one of his fellow coon hunters. The skunk stank to high heaven. To our good fortune we never scared the critter enough for it to take defensive actions.