Defending ducks

These six ducks were to be the start of our duck herd and we were thrilled when three mamas crafted downy nests in the lean-to of our old barn.

We counted down the days until the fuzzy ducklings would emerge from those eggs.

Five days before hatching, we found all three nests empty with just a few egg shells scattered around the edges to reassure us we hadn’t dreamt the whole thing.

After the second time we lost eggs, we decided to set a humane trap.

It took five days or re-setting the trap every night before we caught our varmint because we were rookies at the trapping game.

But early on a Saturday morning, we crept into the lean-to to see the trap had done its work.

We were sure we’d find a raccoon but not so. Instead, a skunk was pacing inside the wire.

My husband was unimpressed. He’d planned to spend the day working on the lean-to. It needed some propping up or the duck nests would be pancakes soon.

The last thing he wanted was a skunk to discharge its displeasure in his work area.

We were not only rookies at the trapping game, but also at the catching game. We didn’t know what to do with a skunk.

Fortunately, a savvy neighbor gave us a hint. The skunk, she claimed, wouldn’t spray if it couldn’t see so cover the trap with a blanket and carry the cage away.

My husband is not ordinarily a delicate man but his care in laying that blanket over the wire rivaled a mother with a newborn. Once he had the cage covered, he summoned our older son.

Armed with a .22 rifle, my husband carried the blanketed cage a quarter mile away into our grassy pasture with our son, who was 8 at the time, trailing badly. Like you’d do if you were following a skunk.

He had no problems with idea of shooting a skunk that had been eating duck eggs. But he did have a problem with what came next.

My husband set the trap on the ground and turned to our son. “You pull the blanket off slowly and then I’ll just shoot the skunk while it’s in the cage.”

Our son walked toward that trap like his shoes were in cold honey. He stopped, leaned forward and grabbed a corner of the blanket with the tip of his fingers. His pull lasted as long as the last 15 minutes of school on a Friday. Then the cage was clear. He took off like he could outrun skunk stink.

Dad took care of the rest.

A month later, three nests full of ducklings hatched. We burned the blanket and left the trap in the pasture to air out.

But the best part was that our son really did outrun the skunk stink.

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