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More Skunk Lore

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Obsessing about a badly injured skunk has been sort of a steam escape valve for me, and Lord knows we all need those. I mean, it's business as usual for me to be hyperfocused on and fussing over some badly compromised wild thing, but this hurt skunk has really stretched the limits of my ingenuity and forced me to be patient and wait for slow improvement. I like to fix things. I like to fix people and animals, if I can. I use nature, positivity, time and good food to do my witchery, sometimes a little medicine. But this skunk cannot be fixed neatly or quickly. That's not to say he can't be fixed at all.

 SugarBean showed up March 7 and had been more and more dependent on my food subsidy as the weeks went on. There were a few days near the end of March when it actually hurt to watch him crippling around the yard. One beautiful warm day he sort of lay around on the grass in broad daylight, and when he wanted to get up he had to use his head to roll over on his side and kind of pry himself up. That was really hard to watch. That was when I got kind of frantic about him and started trying to dream up ways to catch him in a carrier and transport him to the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus. I was able to get him in a cat carrier, where he slept overnight in a rainshower, dry and protected. So OK. I could easily catch him... but for what? Once I found out that Ohio Wildlife Center likely would not try to operate on him, I had to fish or cut bait. I thought of calling a couple of people who might be willing to come shoot him for me, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. If he still showed interest in food; if there was even the whisper of a chance that this poor little wreck could turn out to be a viable skunk, I owed it to SugarBean to keep trying. He was certainly trying!

So I adopted the role of nurse/caregiver, and kept the nutritious food coming. I was pretty much winging it, trying to keep SugarBean well supplied with protein and calcium. So far, soft-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, chopped spinach, chopped pear, strawberries, fresh corn off the cob, mandarin orange,  sunflower hearts, sliced almonds, and cooked chicken have all been hits. Kitten chow and dog kibble are both appreciated. I'm not sure there's much you could offer a skunk that it would refuse. I've managed to feed that little skunk most every day for almost two months. I didn't mind. It was a privilege, and I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with him.

Phoebe came around the corner of the house, looking for me, and found this scene. She'd been calling for me, but I didn't answer, for obvious reasons. I heard her breathe, "Oh my GOD" in a sort of "This would be going on whether I was here to witness it or not" voice. I quietly handed her my phone and she grabbed a couple of shots of her Crazy Skunk Lady mom, living dangerously as usual. 

I was a lot closer to him than I wanted to be. I had just set the dish down when the skunk ambled up, and I didn't have time to back off! At that point it seemed I'd do more harm by trying to waddle backward, and probably tip over like a brown marmorated stinkbug, lying there waving my legs, than just by staying in place until he was done eating. Good thing my knees still work pretty well. Ha ha! That was an epic squat. 

Taken with my iPhone. I was right on top of him!  And that's how Phoebe found us. I love the possessive little paws, placed right in the food. As if, once I'd given him the meal, I was going to rescind it? You never know...

Obviously, a telephoto lens is to be preferred for both parties' comfort and safety. 

Mmm, chicken.

Pignosin' his kibble. I just love the snowy Afro.

I took to setting his food and water just outside his little mailbox home so he wouldn't have to use that poor busted leg so much. 

He took to that mailbox like a duck to water, and he spent the better part of two weeks sleeping almost around the clock in its toasty soft confines, coming out only to eat and poop. I love to creep up, peek in there and see ebony fur. 

Each day, he'd emerge to poop. I cleaned up his little noodly piles with a shovel. But not while this gorgeous little moth, a Grapevine Epimenus, was doting on them! Now you know what skunk poop looks like. I'll confess I didn't, before this. But whoa. 
Come to find out, I've already used the tag "skunk scat" on this blog, so I'm gonna have to go see what I said about it!

Here is a video of SugarBean motivating toward his carrier on March 30, before the mailbox palace was in place. At this point I still thought it was a female, so pardon the narration. This was as well as I had seen him move since he first appeared, and hope sprang in my heart that he might eventually be OK after all. His locomotion is certainly not great, but it's a whole lot better than it was. I'm so amused at the thought that a wild skunk would willingly go into a cat carrier and spend time in there. Just one of the many lessons this little mustelid has to teach me.


 SugarBean has sure taught me a lot about skunks, about trust, about patience and love.  And about dog training! My hope is that, having come to know this one virtual skunk, some readers might not be so quick to freak out, call pest control,  or at the very least, run around shouting and waving their arms. It's just a small, calm, sweet, black and white animal, who happens to be packing a bomb. Your job is to stay cool so he doesn't have to deploy it.


My immediate thought? The KNEES! OMG! I would have been up Schitts Creek! But what a cool place to be, under the circumstances!

Keep the Sugar Bean stories coming. We out here in lockdown land are heavily invested in this little dude's recovery.

Such a joy to read in these pandemic times. Thank you for reminding us that this little skunk's life is precious, too.

He is so adorable! Please keep his stories coming, they bring us joy.

It occurred to me while reading this that the term "shelter in place" can mean many things. Your Sugar Bean stories have brought so much joy during this time. xo

Love Sugar Bean

What trust. Your investment pays off.

Thank you for taking care of this sweet little animal. 💙

Thoroughly enjoy following this little critter. Hope that leg can heal. Thanks for sharing this with us.

I am really enjoying these Sugarbean stories and wish him a long, safe life under your care. His life is indeed precious.

Bless your heart! I just love reading your updates!! I love forward to move adventures of Sugarbean!

I so look forward to your SugarBean updates. He's such a heart-tugging little furry boy. He's so lucky to have crossed paths with you, Julie, your heart full of kindness always and ready to share it.

Posted by Anonymous April 21, 2020 at 8:44 AM

Lots of love coming to you and SugarBean. If anyone can rehab him you are the one. Thanks for giving us all something to warm our hearts during hard times.

These are some of my favorite posts! The Saga of SugarBean. Thank you for being a light in the dark times.

I'm just adoring Sugarbean and these posts about his escapades. Last summer on a bike trail ride atop a levee here next to the Ohio River I spied some black and white rustling around the kind of tall grasses not too far off the bike path. As I started to ride by I realized it was a skunk so I slowed and circled back and stood there at the side of the path with the little long haired skunk busy, busy, busy rooting around in the grasses about 20' away from me. He/she lifted its head briefly, so I know it was aware of me, but truly it was more interested in looking for grubs, or whatever. It's fur was so magnificently long and frilly, just the most beautiful thing I think I'd ever seen. I was not even remotely afraid that it was going to spray me. Maybe I was being wreakless, but honestly. I knew if it felt threatened it would give me a strong sign. Plus, it had plenty of egress, a whole hillside of grass sloping downward away from me to underbrush. I just counted myself entirely blessed, watched a little while, sighed and went on with my bike ride.

My knees haven't been able to assume that position for several years now, so that photo made me feel shock and awe! SugarBean is awesome, too, as is Curtis, and, well, your whole family!

What a cutie pie! Good luck to you and Sugar Bean! I hope his leg heals with time. You are kind to care for him but still have not told us how you keep Curtis from going after Sugar Bean!

@Teresa N.from San Diego, oh but I have. Go back to Older Posts and find "Fun with Skunks and Dogs" and then the skunk post after that, "Small Skunk, Big Victory." They're all about the Curtis/SugarBean interface.

Sugar Bean's story is so compelling. Two months now that you've been tending to him. Thank you. I love skunks because I love all wildlife. But yes, the BOMB they carry. Hmmmm? If his leg doesn't improve is there any chance you could have his "bomb" removed and he could become part of the household? Yes, I know there's Curtis to consider, but just a thought. I'll be forever grateful for your enduring kindness toward all critters great and small. Thanks again, Julie.

ok Madame, already I think of you as the greatest most empathic and talented person on the planet...but now with the addition of Sugar Bean you are in the Pantheon. Love at first site, I have a thing for damaged animals (and unfortunately damaged men)and SB is right up there with the blind deaf pink puppy I was ready to adopt...I sort of have word out to my friends who breed Frenchies that if they have a litter with one born without legs, or his organs outside his body, or headless...I'll take him. If you could get SB descented, would you? He would make such a great buddy if you did not have to do level 10 social distancing.I still have my hazmat suit from EMT. I think Les Scherr did skunks, but imagine taking SB as he is now on a plane in a carry on cage.

I had a mama skunk that came to my house several times, early in the morning.
I have one of those black & white kitties that look like a man in his best attire. Bode, my kitty, was fascinated with the mother skunk and the babies. We never had an incident (I sang to them, believe it or not). I never had my phone to document it.

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