Wednesday, September 28, 2011

skunks in the eggs

What would you do if a skunk was in your front yard and wouldn't leave?

Or, how about,  you're coming home from work  and you turn at your apartment building and sitting up there at the top of the steps, just resting, is a skunk.

Not a large skunk,  but still,  a skunk.

And as you watch, her tail looks like its rising just a little bit  (of course you know,  a skunk lets out her stream of spray when she fully extends her tail straight up).

Or how about this...

As you walk up the steps to your building, there it is, the skunk.

She's standing, facing the door,  as though she's looking at her reflection in the glass,  her tail fully extended and her rear aimed right in your direction.

Or its kind of like that 'what's worse than finding a worm in your apple?' joke.

Instead of watching where your feet are going, you are thinking about something else, maybe its something that didn't get turned in on time at work, and then, belatedly, you look down and there's that skunk, with her rear facing right at you and her tail high in the air.

That's how it was for our new dog, JC (John Calhoun), sort of like that youtube video that's been making the rounds.

A stream of spray shoots out, aimed right at his eyes.

But before I tell you how we stopped the skunk from chasing down the poor pullets and eating all of your eggs, let's go through a highlight of the farm news.But first let's go through the farm news.

End of the vegetable season.

The season ends in two weeks.  Officially, the last week is October 14th.

However,  for the people that missed the first week, and for a number of  other number of other people we are going one more week.

I have a list of people getting that extra week and I'll  send you out a notice, in fact I'm leaning towards letting everyone pick up that extra week.

I'll write more about that next week.

Early sign up for 2012 at 2011 price.

This is the time of year we start signing up people for the 2012 season.

If you sign up for 2012 now you get your share at the 2011 price plus, like signing up to be a member of public radio this year we're giving a premium.

For the first 70 people who sign up early we'll also throw in a free pound of local comb honey.  (that's honey still in the honey comb).

Here's how it works.

E-mail me before the end of the season saying you are going to renew. for 2012.  Say what size share you're signing up for:

a one person share for $440
a two person share for $587

Then pay me half of that by the end of the season. ($220 of a one person and $293.50 for the two person).

Renewing shareholders will get the 20th week of vegetables this year  and the first 70 will get a pound of comb honey  (the comb honey isn't coming from me,  you have to put special honeycomb foundation in your beehives, but it is coming from another local bee keeper.  I came up with the number 70 because right now that's what he has left).

Apple cider.

We'll be doing apple cider again this year, starting this Saturday. A couple years ago I bought a cider press  and at the end of the season we've been having shareholders out to make their own apple cider.

If you are interested you need to sign up. (this is only open to our 2011 shareholders)

Five people this Saturday, October 1st, between 11 and 1.  Ten  next Saturday. (October 8th).  October 15th.  and the finally weekend October 22.

You can bring your own bushel of apples but I also will be providing them  (I'm buying cider apples--  you reimburse me.  depending on the apples either $10 or $15 a bushel.

A bushel of apples makes between 2 and 2.9 gallons of cider.  You'll also need to bring your own containers.  When you sign up I'll send you details.

Another premium for people who renew early,  They get to jump to the front of the cider line.

Gleaning. (2011 shareholders only)

This year's gleanings and last shareholder get together will be on Saturday October 22.  Gleaning is when shareholders come out and pick the vegetables still out in the fields.  More information about that coming up in a couple weeks.

You pick raspberries.

If you remember back to the beginning of the season you might remember  the raspberry patch I was planting.  Well after all these months the plants are starting to produce.  If you want to come out this weekend between  11 and 1 you can pick some.

Which brings us back to skunks.

Or in this case one skunk weighing in at about three pounds..

Now that the three pound skunk had removed the 150 pound guard dog from its path, it headed                                                  down the hill to the chicken pasture where several dozen chicken eggs were not unguarded.

So here's the picture.

A  little three pound skunk waddling along the path,  Followed, at a safe distance, by three grown men and one rather smelly dog.

And the question we were all thinking--

How do you stop a skunk without getting sprayed?

While we were trying to come up with an answer the skunk steadily made its way down the hill.

Came to the electric fence and instead of being stopped, gave the bottom electrified strand a look over and then without seeming to be bothered scooted down on the ground and was under the fence in a matter of moments.

Once inside the fence it turned to the nearest hen house and went inside.

And a few moments later came out, carrying an egg that it carefully placed on the ground,  cracked and began to eat.

After finishing the first egg it got up and went back into the same hen house.

And came out with another egg.

All this time we hadn't dared go any closer.  How were we going to stop it?  Even if the skunk only ate half a dozen eggs this trip it would be back.  And maybe bringing all of its relatives.

That's when Brian had the idea.

Waiting for me to run back up the hill and turn off the fence, he went inside the hen yard and picked up the large net we kept leaning up against one of the hen houses in case we needed to catch a run away bird.

He stood by the hen house where the skunk had recently disappeared and when it came out, carrying an egg he carefully took the net quickly threw it over the skunk.

Careful to pen the dangerous tail to the ground.

And then, still carefully, wrapped the skunk into the netting, and lifted it up.

From there it was a simple matter to carry our visitor up to the truck where we put the skunk and the net in the truck bed.

Drove out the gate, off the farm and several miles down the state road.

When we decided we were far enough away from houses, barns and any sign of people I stopped the truck.  We took the net with its skunk out of the bed and slowly unwound the net.

Before the skunk had a chance to realize it was free we had run back to the cab,  turned on the engine and I had hit the gas.

From fifty feet away we stopped and watched the skunk get up, look around and then run across the road and into the trees on the far side.

I hope the skunk finds a new home down the road and doesn't decide it's worth the walk back to our farm just for a meal of fresh eggs.



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