Those Amazing Animals

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

Just before dark last night, with the front door open just a crack, I made noises in an effort to chase a young skunk off the front porch. I noticed him when I was on my way to bring the cat pan into the house for the night. Too late! The skunk was there already, eating the cat food left from that day. He didn’t notice me at first, but after I yelled and worked the door back and forth, he looked at me, put up his tail, and reluctantly worked his way to the porch steps and started down. Then, remarkably, he turned around and started back up again.

I thought, “You stinker!” (I was thinking “pesky,” but “stinker” was appropriate because although the skunk hasn’t sprayed, it will probably happen yet — when I least expect it.)

I kept making noise so the skunk finally turned around and wobbled down the steps, headed for the chokecherry brushes that grow beside the front of the house.

I have written about the skunks around Pipi’s Pasture before, especially last year when they were extra abundant. This time, however, I have been marveling as to how tame they have gotten. When I was a kid growing up on the ranch, there were skunks, too, but I don’t remember that they came around in the daytime, and they certainly didn’t have to be chased off. There were lots of other wild animals around the ranch, too, many of which prowled around at night, and they were far from tame.

Bobcats came in around the house at night and killed the cats. I remember hearing the cats yowling. Badgers dug tunnels and popped up right through the dirt floor of the chicken house during the night where they snatched up chickens from around the roost and took them back through the tunnel. The scared chickens made so much noise that we heard them at the house. In both cases, Dad grabbed his gun and ran outside.

Another animal that is unusually gentle around Pipi’s Pasture is the deer. I can find deer asleep in the yard in the daytime, and they don’t offer to move (unless I get very close) as I move the hose around. The other afternoon I was on the patio where I was writing as I timed the water that was sprinkling the lawn. A young doe jumped over the yard fence and started nibbling the grass. She looked right at me but didn’t offer to leave.

As I watched, the doe found water flowing from a leak in the hose and drank from it. When I went out to move the hose, she paid no attention. A little later she walked to the porch and tried eat the potted tomato plant. When I hurried to the porch to rescue the cherry tomatoes, she went to the lilac bushes and stood on her hind legs, in an attempt to reach the top leaves which are all that remain on the bushes. The deer have eaten all of other leaves.

All of the time I was outdoors she was there, too. A little later, when I was working in the house, I heard a big racket. I went to the front porch, and this time it was the doe eating the cat food. I opened the door and she stumbled back down the steps. She and other deer have eaten off my petunias (several times) and even pulled the geraniums out of the pots. I have found artificial flowers scattered around in the yard.

The animals are tame, pesky, and amazing.

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