Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Do you smell Skunk?

  Anyone who lives anywhere has smelled that smell...the horrible odor of Skunk. Nature gave this little fellow a real killer weapon to strike fear and horror in all around them...and yet they are just so darned cute!

Some of the funniest stories of my life revolve around skunks.  My Father told of a run in he had with a skunk that really had a happy ending.  In summer he often went to bed with the door open to let the air circulate through the old house.

The hinges on the screen door were broken so it was hooked out of the way.  It meant the dogs could go in and out and Dad's cat  ( a sweet little black and white female called Spots) could come and sleep with him.

Dad tells of one morning when Spots didn't want to jump up on the bed but stood beside the bed to get her back scratched...Dad thought it was odd as she usually purred and meowed a but, this morning she was quiet.    Well he rubbed her back for a while and then thought he had a lot to do and he had better get up.      So he rolled over and moved to get out of bed, he stopped dead! Staring back at him from the floor was not Spot at all but a young skunk!   The two of them stared at each other and the skunk figured his back scratcher was hopeless and sauntered out of the house!  WHEW!  My Father figured he didn't get sprayed because he was calm and quiet and the skunk was just curious!   Needless to say the screen door got replaced.

We teased him about his cat for a very long time.

Did you know Mother skunks are really strict teachers?   Years ago my Border collie "Boo" was a teaching aide for our local Momma Skunk.  She would arrive with her babies one or two and one year with three of the cutest and smelliest babies I had seen!   She would take them to the spring for a drink of water then head up the draw to the anthills.  About halfway up the trail she would  pause to see if "Boo" had seen her!  Sure enough he would rush off to chase her away. Now it got entertaining!

PPP  sss  TTT

The Mother Skunk would line her babies up and demonstrate how to flip their butts to spray!  Of course they didn't all get it right or pay attention and she would go over to the misbehaving baby and swat him with her paw....meanwhile "Boo" would be getting the brunt of her demonstration sprays.  It was hilarious and chaotic as a me-lee ensued with skunks and dog!  After a few tries baby skunks would line up and flip their butts, Momma skunk would be the proud Mother and "Boo" would head home a sadder wiser dog....and yes I would break out the bulk Febreze!

Febreze really is a good way to deal with skunk

Have you ever had anyone ask you if you smelled Skunk?  This brings me a to a tale of the duration of Skunk scent and how it leaches into things!  One Morning years ago I was getting dressed to go to work, I had let my dog Skye out for the day and was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, sounds like a mundane morning with nothing on the horizon to make it memorable.  So wrong!  I heard a great crash and yelping from the porch!  I have the cat food on the top of the deep freeze so Skye will leave it for the cats, but she occasionally will bark at them so I assumed she was trying to get their food so I went to straighten it out.

I opened the porch door to have Skye blast by me and rub on the furniture as I watched a horrified Skunk head out the of the porch at high speed!  It had been eating cat food and Skye was protecting her farm...not good in an enclosed space!  The smell was terrible and I quickly shut the door.   Skye meanwhile was rubbing her face on the couch and chair and anything she could to get the sting out of her eyes.  I quickly got the febreze and sprayed her  everywhere and knowing how bad the porch smelled put her out using the bathroom window.!  I then sprayed all the furniture and followed Skye out of the house through the bathroom window!

I didn't think she had got any spray on me and of I went to work!  At the oddest times customers at the truck stop would ask me if there was a skunk around? Humn! Nooooo  I don't think so I would reply and the when they left I would go and get air freshener  spray and  gently waft it through the store!

Floral scent does not always make skunk odor smell better!

It was a long day!  When I got home I stepped into the porch to a horrendous smell! It was rank and I used an entire bottle of febreze in the small area!  The house itself was not to bad as I had sprayed it before I left.  Skye  was okay...but she did have a certain embarrassed air to her!  It had been quite a day, anything that might have come in contact with Skye was tossed unceremoniously into the old wringer washer I kept outside for  washing work clothes and I cleaned the top of the deep freeze with bleach! In the battle of dog  versus Skunk..I have to admit the skunks are winning!

This tale is not quite done...winter rolls around and one cold day I get an invitation to  my good friends for a game night.  Can I bring the Farming game?   Of is such fun to get together for cookies, Hot chocolate and a cut throat game of Farming! Nothing better on a Winter evening!  I get the game off the top shelf of my bookcase beside the couch and head over to Kate's.  Everyone is anticipating a fierce game!  We get the board out and start the game.  Heated competition ensues with lots of laughter and treats......

Suddenly Kate asks...does anyone smell Skunk?

The Farming Game...look it up it is a blast!

That very night we wrote a new Farmers Fate card just for involved a skunk, the porch and a huge dry cleaning bill for all the farm work clothes!

Yes the skunks are still wining the war but thanks to a farm sense of humor and a huge supply of Febreze we will go on!

Hummmm  now do you smell Skunk?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Road Less Traveled

  I was born in the late 50's, the first of two children born to farming parents. Raised on the same small farm until my parents divorced in 1967. We moved away from the farm and began a new life near  big city as an acreage family. The main income was not from the land but from an oil job in a high downtown tower where my stepfather worked.

 I was always aware of my humble poor farm beginnings so far from the better life my mother had made for us. I never quite fit in with the other youth in the city High school, I was a farm girl and I knew it. Even in my teen years I did things differently, Looking to work in the fields with the men, learning to drive a tractor, rake hay, work with the baler and fix things. I showed horses and cattle and my summer jobs seemed to be as farm help. I loved it. I never planned a life in any field that was common to women.

  The road less traveled called me. It truly has made all the difference. Both good and bad. I decided to become a Farrier after high school and a brief stint at art school. I found the trendy scene with the art crowd not for me at all, despite my love of drawing and painting. In 1977 I was one of the first two women to graduate from Old's Colleges farrier Science Program.

   It opened many doors for me and led to some being closed firmly in my face. Women were just starting to enter the more non traditional fields and there was a lot of resistance to a mere "girl" trimming hooves and making shoes to fit a horse. I worked hard trying to build a clientèle and was hard to accept I just couldn't get people to believe in a woman  farrier. 

Then an odd opportunity came up, a Rancher friend of my Mothers had need of a general laborer on hid huge Grain and Beef farm in Saskatchewan. I needed a job so I took it.

 I was still meeting resistance to a girl in the male dominated world of agriculture. It seems so funny now when women fill the industry in any position imaginable. The man I worked for took a lot of heckling for his hired girl. I just worked harder to  prove I could do the job. I drove big tractors pulling 56 feet of cultivator, I ran the combines, picked up grain from the same combines and delivered it to the grain elevators.  I worked the purebred Angus cattle and got them ready for the Fall shows. I fed cows, hauled hay, fixed fence and just  generally did the work. In 1979 I was given the responsibility of hauling the show cattle to a Big fall show, Agribition, The first year I worked there, there were three young women in the show barn ally's. We  had to work twice as hard to prove ourselves but by the end of the event we had earned a bit of respect and a few grudging well dones.

It is strange to look at a modern cattle show barn and think of how it was male dominated not so very long ago.

The life I chose led me all over the place, from shoeing horses to showing cattle, from being a range rider to driving a tractor trailer. I have never regretted it.

     One thing though, I never fell for the Promotion of equal rights meaning a woman can have and do it all...being a wife, mother, career woman and having total control of it all.  I decided not to have children, I simply felt that to be a good mother I would have to commit to being there for the children. I know many women have done it all but some part of their life has suffered greatly for it. A failed marriage, children they don't know as well as they would like. Family and career at  war with one another.

   There just is not time enough in the day or energy enough in one person to be good at everything and still be honest with yourself.

I have had great success with my choices for the most part, breeding and showing top quality horses and cattle. Traveling and being a woman in a mans field when it was not done. I am proud of all the Young women who choose the path less traveled these days.

   I just feel there are still things women can do that men cannot and things men can do that women cannot. We don't have to do it all and not get too enjoy the simple things we love, time with family, enjoyment of work and a life full of new and wonderful things  on that road less traveled.