Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Spring

A bit more than a month ago, this was the scene looking to the west from our house. See the lovely icicles? And the view from the outside shows these frozen daggers posed to strike any creature below.

But, now we are seeing signs of spring. Daffodils bring sunshine inside.

The orchid I adopted a year ago (from my daughter-in-law) is getting ready to bloom for the first time, in our house. It was blooming when we first got it, but after those blooms faded, it has been gathering strength to bloom again.

A small chipmunk has been busily gathering sunflower seeds. In the process, the chipmunk is driving our two cats crazy--a glass door separates him from certain death lurking inside.

The squirrels go to great lengths (literally) to try to raid the peanuts.

Then, the squirrel scampers away to watch me carefully. Whose picture are you taking, lady?

All these are wonderful signs of spring.

Some other signs abound as well, not so wonderful.

Herewith the tale of THE GREAT SKUNK ESCAPADE.

Now, this is not nearly as exciting as some skunk stories. No dogs were harmed in the process. About a week ago, we were sitting in our sun room. Seeing some movement outside, I looked up into our backyard--a skunk toddled into our yard. And then stopped. It seemed to settle down. Oh, no--I thought. Please, go away. On second thought, don't go away.

We had a skunk family settle next to our pool, a couple of years ago, living with its babies under a deck. We finally rousted it, after two skunk babies fell into the pool. I read online that skunks don't like loud noises, so I placed a radio, speaker down on the deck, and picked the loudest hip-hop station I could find and played it full blast. Skunk begone, and it was.

Anyway, all I could think was--please don't go under our deck.

So, I ventured outside. I circled far around the skunk, keeping my distance. Then I watched it--looking for signs of respiration. NOTHING. Huh? A skunk walks into our yard, and stops moving. Since this was in the middle of the day, all I could think was rabies. So, the first thing we did was call our local police.

An officer came promptly, and she asked--what's the problem.
Well, there's a skunk in our yard.
Were you harmed or in danger?

the officer said--I can shoot the skunk, but other than that, there's nothing I can do.

Never mind--the thought of a service revolver blasting a skunk gave my husband pause. Visions of skunks bits here and there. And, the office said, if she shoots it, the skunk will probably spray anyway.

So, the next step was to call a wildlife removal company. We were still thinking--rabies. After calling two companies, one responded immediately, and came out. The first thing he did was determine--was the skunk still alive. Please note the highly scientific method used to determine if the skunk is alive.

First, walk around the yard a bit, sort of circle the skunk. Next, select a small twig. Next, jab at the skunk. No spraying. Nothing. Nope--not alive.

This very helpful man then opined that the skunk looked not too old, not emaciated or unkempt, not underfed, that it likely died from some disease, but that other diseases than rabies could have caused its death--distemper for example. Then, he took a plastic bag out of his pocket, and wrapped it around the dead skunk--presto. Skunk begone (once again).

Thank you, helpful man--and yes, we will pay you for your help.

So, the great skunk escapade ended happily. Except for the next several days, when our neighbor came knocking on our door. Do you have a cat outside, she asked. Well, we don't allow our cats to roam--they are only outside with us for short times, and then inside a fenced yard. So, no, we don't.

Well, she said, there's a cat with 5 babies in my window well. Oh my, another sign of a spring--and it's the same cat I saw the day of the skunk-capade who very carefully approached the still (now dead) skunk, then traveled on. Oh, great--a feral cat roaming around, getting distemper or rabies or whatever--and with 5 kittens to boot, more feral cats!

Well, now we are midway in March, and here's that same western sky--absent icicles daggers.

Happy spring! Do a vernal dance this weekend.


Jayne said...

Oh yes, signs of spring abound here too! Yippeee!

No skunks though, and how odd that it just waddled into the yard and died? I suppose they will check it for rabies and such? Nice of them to respond so promptly and remove it for you.

Anvilcloud said...

In Vancouver, the girls had a family of skunks living right under the walkway into the apartment building. There were hundreds of passings each day but no fumes.

Anonymous said...

Yech! Between the calls about the two families of possums under our deck and the snakes in my flower beds a few years ago, I was afraid the wildlife guy was going to think I was after him. We've been critter-free lately, but I will now add to my gratitude list "at least it wasn't a skunk." Love the pictures! LOL!

I can't tell you how jealous I am that you're getting an orchid to rebloom.

littleorangeguy said...

We have a distemper epidemic among skunks and raccoons up here this spring. We have seen a few disoriented raccoons, and it looks and sounds like that's what your poor fellow succumbed to. Raccoons are a big nuisance but I hate to see them suffering.

Rhonda said...

OK. Here's what I want to know. How much did the Wildlife Guy charge for his "services"?

And I kind of feel bad for the poor little skunk. He toddled into your backyard to die. Don't you at least feel a little proud that he chose YOUR yard to spend his final skunk moments in?

possumlady said...

Oh I definitely feel bad for the skunk. I too am wondering if they are going to test it. Might be good to know if there is something going around.

And, what is going to happen to the cat and kittens? Are they truly feral or is she a stray? (You knew I would have to ask about them, right?!)

Murr Brewster said...

I'm trying to figure out if the hip-hop music station would have driven out the skunk or me first.

KGMom said...

Answers on the skunk--it really did just walk into the yard, then stop, then die. Well, yes, I guess I am "honored" ? Hmmm.

As for what the wildlife guy charged--$62 to remove it; or $80 if he had to kill it. Obviously, he didn't have to kill it.

He talked about learning what caused its death, but I don't know if he was going to test it or not. Of course, rabies testing involves removing the head (to extract the pineal gland deep in the brain).

Finally, ah--the momma cat and kittens. Not sure if she is stray or feral--how much of a difference is there. She is definitely out and about all the time in our neighborhood, along with two or three other cats who no one seems to claim.

Once she moved her kittens, she has not been seen. One kitten was left behind, and a local animal rescue place took it. We have said we will adopt it, if it makes it. The kittens appeared to be about 2 weeks old, so they would need to continue nursing. Of course, a tiny kitten can be bottle fed, but I don't know what the survival rate is.

possumlady said...

Thanks for the info!

Difference between stray and feral. A stray cat is a cat that has had human contact, raised by humans, lived with humans, then either got lost or dumped by owners. She might act feral since she's been living on the streets for a while, but She can be caught, tamed up again, and adopted out. A feral cat has not had ANY human contact and is really like a wild animal. Very little success rate on trying to tame adult ferals, but baby ferals can be caught,tamed and adopted out.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am in Toronto area right now. We have had three record high temperature days in a row. No snow or ice here. It seem the southern and eastern US is hoarding it all.
I hope next Winter we can have it back.

I have a recipe on how to cook a skunk if you are interested.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Donna, your signs of spring are way more interesting than mine!
I have noticed the scent of skunks in the neighborhood, but haven't seen any yet (alive OR dead).