Crazy Old Folks on the loose

It has been kind of crazy here at the cabin this week. Our daughter has gone away on a two week retreat, and everyone suspected that these two old folks were just going to go along in our boring routine ... not quite.

We've been having quite a time with a local stray cat for several months now. It's a half-starved, gray tom that seems to think this is home. I only say "half-starved" because he seems to get at least some of his nutrition out of our garbage bags. He is too wild to catch and takes great pleasure in tormenting one of our female cats. At night, he will go around the cabin and cry but when we tried to help him he would just stare at us and then run away. We couldn't trap him in the winter because he would have frozen to death in the trap ... but now that it's spring ... It is my personal quest to catch that stray! I have found that things are never as easy as they seem.

Last Monday we borrowed a humane trap from the local police station, put it out by our garbage bins, baited it with cat food, and eagerly waited. Over the course of a week I bet we have caught every house cat in the area! I didn't realize just how many cats lived up here in the meadow. Wednesday as we were walking down to the pickup, I saw that we had a new visitor in our trap ... a young female skunk! That became a concern very quickly because the trap was sitting right beside the pickup door and being inexperienced in humane trapping ... we were a bit concerned about her opinion of us and our rather LOUD pickups. She seemed to be a type B skunk and didn't seemed too concerned with the noise of family life. After the mountain man left to pick up some equipment, I proceeded to get on the phone. When I called the Police Chief, his response was pity for us but let me know that there is no one in public service that deals with such problems. Good luck. The reminder that the trap in question was his didn't seem to faze him any. Next, I called our vet's office. If anyone knew about animals, I figured they would be the ones. When I explained the dilemma, the lady on the other end of the phone line began laughing uncontrollably. Granted, it was sort of funny so we had a good laugh together. Laughter is the key to staying sane and I felt better immediately. That is until she explained to me how skunks have been known to hold a grudge. Apparently if they are released too close to home ... they come back gunning for the folks who irritated them. This was a concern! Tomato sauce is to eat, not bathe in.

The best advice I got was to wrap a tarp around the cage, take the trapped critter out into the woods, open the cage, and just let it walk away. There was a strong emphases on wearing cloths that could be thrown away. Although it sounded idealistic and like something out of a Disney movie ... I figured there must be a better option. When honey got home, I shared my new knowledge, (he was also a bit concerned about the vindictive nature of the beast),so we put our heads together and decided that the best thing to do was to bundle the trap in a tarp, load it in the back of our pickup, (which has very high wooden sideboards by the way), drive it out away from houses, (ours in particular), and at that point I would get in the back of the pickup while he sat with his foot on the gas peddle. I would then lift the cage and dump the cute little skunk over the side, holler loud, and he would take off before the skunk had a chance to retaliate. As in most things ... that sounded like a really good plan.

The tarp idea worked great. She didn't seem to want to stink up her little pretend den. We didn't count on having to drive for over 30 minutes all around the back roads trying to find a vacant field to release her. For such a "remote" state ... there sure are alot of folks living around here. Finally, the perfect location was found. By this point, I had enough time to think about our "plan" and was beginning to find flaws with it. For one ... I walk with a cane. I'm already a bit shaky on my feet. This hanging the cage over the edge idea while honey guns the truck was beginning to sound a bit unbalanced. I had to remind myself that this was MY idea. Ok, this was no time to chicken out. Being raised with brothers trained me to never chicken out of a possible adventure, especially when I was the one who came up with it. Honey helped me up into the bed of the truck and shut the sideboards behind me. When he slammed his driver's door, I was saying "shh" let's don't get her more excited that absolutely necessary. I lifted the cage ... good grief! She was a small skunk, but she had dug up enough mud into the cage with her that it weighed a ton. This was looking worse all the time. I balanced the tarped cage on the edge of the sideboards and proceeded to figure out how to open the cage blind. If you've ever handled a have-a-heart trap, you know that opening the cage door is a two handed task. I had to stick my hand up inside the tarp and manipulate the door until I could get it open. I up-ended the cage ... nothing. She wanted no part of the free-fall. I shook the cage ... nothing. I told her that a cute little male skunk was out there waiting for her ... she must not have been impressed ... she wasn't coming out. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I proved to be the more determined of us and she let go of all that mud she had balled up. What I didn't know was that honey was watching in the rear-view mirror. Before I could holler "go" ... he went. I came very close to being on the side of the road. At that moment, I remembered that the cute little critters hold a grudge. There was no way I was falling out of that truck! To make a long story short ... (kinda late for that), the little darling must have either gotten her directions confused by all the winding dirt roads we drove down, or she simply didn't want any more to do with the crazy old folks.

As a side note, after catching our own cat ... we finally caught the stray! Tigger was given permission to stick her tongue out at him and I gave him my best "Mama lecture" while I cleaned the scatter trash around him. He's now in protective custody at the vet's office.

May the Lord bless you.