I’m so thankful my husband really knows me. It’s almost to the point of being sappy. He’s wonderful enough to pick me up some decaf Chai tea and French vanilla creamer for my latest favorite drink. (Yes, I still drink coffee hot and black, but somehow tea has developed a new ritual.)
He knows when to bring me flowers on those days when I’m feeling a little down, but he also knows when to get me something better. Better than flowers? I know you women out there are just dying to know. How could it possibly get better than flowers?
Nope, it’s not chocolate or lacy foo-foos. It’s not the latest, greatest I-gadget. It’s ammunition.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Growing up, I had some limited contact with a BB gun. As I got older, I’d go out and target shoot with real guns that belonged to friends. I got to enjoy not just the shooting, but the cleaning, loading—everything. It was a great stress reliever, too.
I will confess that growing up in town gave me a somewhat unrealistic view of wild animals. Raccoons were smart and friendly, possums were a little weird but harmless, and snakes were something I only saw in zoos. Some part of my brain insisted that probably wasn’t the actual case, but childhood beliefs are hard to break. Still, now that we live out here, I’m really glad I learned how to shoot.
During the past couple of years, those views pretty much have been obliterated. That smart, friendly raccoon? He lives under the barn, is covered in ticks, and isn’t at all friendly. Sure, he’s smart, but that’s about the nicest thing I can say. If I’m not extra vigilant, he’ll eat his own weight in the barn cats’ food.
Don’t even get me started on possums. I’ve gotten more used to snakes, but at least we can leave each other alone.
The first time you hear a coyote howling from what sounds like a spot directly below your bedroom window, you’re just about guaranteed a sleepless night. That feeling is multiplied when you’re pretty sure that coyote is going to make an attempt at those meat chickens you’ve raised so lovingly.
Skunks, however, have climbed to the No. 1 menace in my mind. There’s the obvious reason, for starters. Getting your dog sprayed gets old really fast.
Of course, skunks are one of the many things out here that threaten my beloved chickens, so my tolerance level went even lower. Then there’s the fact that they’re frequent carriers of rabies.
Nope, don’t need that around here.
One evening I was out in the pasture, minding my own business. Lo and behold, a skunk was bumbling around near the horse pen. I drew my trusty pistol and fired. I missed. So I tried again.
Like something out of a bad dream, the skunk turned my way and proceeded to run straight for me. I’d try to put my thoughts into words for you, but there were none. I think “EEEK” got repeated a lot.
I kept firing and missing. I guess the skunk finally had enough fun for the day—when it got about 15 feet away from me, it just turned and waddled off into the underbrush.
Yes, the feeling of failure and humiliation was crushing. I’m not sure if she’s pulling my leg or not, but my neighbor insists that it’s common knowledge that skunks always charge at dusk.
Since I didn’t want to get close enough to take away his credit card, I spent more time at the range, vowing that situation would never happen again.
I’m pretty sure that skunk’s cousin has also decided to take up residence. The other day, we were headed to town. Directly in the middle of the road was (I assume) a different skunk.
At a very leisurely amble, it preceded us for about 20 yards before changing its course into a ditch. Naturally we didn’t want to hit it: Who’d want to drive a smelly truck to visit relatives? I swear I could hear its stinky little chuckles as we went by.
I could tell you about how I just about gave my mother-in-law a heart attack when I gave her a skunk-skin wine bottle cover (as a gag gift), but I think she’s still mad at me so I won’t go into detail.
So, these days, going to the range involves a lot of visualization. Who needs a head and shoulders target when you can just imagine a skunk and get much more satisfaction?
Possums make good stress relief, too, as any of you who’ve ever had one hiss at you will understand.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I’m not constantly on the hunt for varmints. Still, if they’re too close to the chickens or acting strangely, it’s nice not to have to rely on chucking rocks at them. They tend to get a little mad if you do that. And besides, my aim HAS improved. I guess those varmints are useful after all.
Now my husband can bring me some more ammo.