Tag Archives: skunks

Young Skunk Scares Chickens

Many animal spring babies are off on their own now. That includes a young skunk now staking out the barn area as home base.

In spite of their reputations, skunks are not really interested in attacking anyone. This young one is rather nervous.

I first came across this particular one on my way to milk one evening. It was after dark and my flashlight batteries were starting to dim. There was movement along the road.

The skunk stood motionless assessing the situation and blinded by the light. It stomped its front feet. This is not a good sign.

young skunk startled
The skunk didn’t seem to notice much around it. I finally got close enough to be noticed. The skunk backed up a step and lifted its tail. In a few seconds the tail came down and it resumed digging in the grass. If a skunk gets really alarmed, it raises the tail much higher, stands square and stomps the front feet. If the perceived threat stays, the skunk turns away and lets loose.

Skunks are common around the area. They move in for a time. They move on. Occasionally they discover I put milk down for the cats as I milk and come in to drink it. They have a different lap sound from the cats, more of a smack, smack, smack. I say something. They look up with a startled expression and depart hastily. One was a repeat offender and ignored me in a night or two. It left after the milk was gone.

That night I backed off. The skunk relaxed. I sidled by on the other side of the road.

chicken ignoring young skunk
After the chickens ran from the skunk, they settled down and gave it a wide berth as they ate grass and bugs. The skunk ignored the chickens.

The next afternoon I let the chickens out to forage for a couple of hours. They have adjusted to the short times out well. The foxes seem to be ignoring them.

The flood of chickens rolled out across the grass, came to a screeching halt and retreated. My pullets complained loudly to me about the invader in their section of grass.

The skunk was busy foraging. It feeds on worms and grubs it digs up. Armadillos may dig bigger holes, but skunks leave a lumpy path behind too. However, an armadillo races off once it spots you. A skunk dares you to do something.

young skunk digging for grubs
The stripes on the back of a skunk can be thin lines, short as on this skunk and up to covering the entire back making the skunk appear white. The skunk rustled through the grass, stopped and dug, ate whatever tasty morsel was uncovered and moved to begin again.

I moved in with the camera. The skunk looked up, arched its tail, seemed almost to shrug and went back to foraging.

The chickens gave it a wide berth that day. After a few days, they now ignore the young skunk as it ignores them.

Skunks appear in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”

Fixing Garden Gates

No, the PVC garden gates are not broken already. They work very well. The fixing is due to another problem: the gap under the gates.

A gate must be hung clear of the ground or it will not swing open and closed. My garden ground is not level and the gates were hung to clear the highest point of ground under them.

gap under gate

That gap under my garden gate looks so very small yet the worn area in the dirt shows it is in use as do the clipped hollyhocks and bitten green tomatoes.

Gaps under gates are open invitations to my local garden raiders.

Skunks wander around digging small holes looking for grubs and other skunk delicacies. A four inch gap is plenty of room for them to slip through.

barrier set up

Although the barrier must block the gap, the wheelbarrow must still get into and out of the garden. The bricks form a ramp over the barrier from both inside and outside the garden.

Raccoons can ravage a garden in a single night especially almost ripe tomatoes and corn. They grab one fruit, bite it, toss it aside and grab the next one. They need a big gap under the gates and will gladly use it when available.

Armadillos need bigger gaps and can dig their way under. They leave big holes behind in their search for grubs and other delicacies.

closed garden gate

The final test is closing the gate. The barrier must fill the gap but be behind the gate .

Woodchucks need only two or three inches open under the gates. They can flatten themselves until they are like a moving carpet flowing over the ground. If their head fits, they do. They will also dig a bigger gap if they need to.

My gates all have two to 5ive inch gaps under them. The ground is hard but not that hard to dig up. The gaps have to go and dirt will not work.

gate gap barrier

The gap was larger under this gate so taller stones were needed. The ramp works for the wheelbarrow even though it is narrow as it must go straight into and out of this garden gate.

Another consideration is how I use the gates. I can open them and walk in and out even if there is a stone wall across the opening. Wheelbarrows don’t go in and out over a short stone wall.

The solution was to place taller stones on each side with a ramp in the middle. The wall fills the gap. Since it is stone, woodchucks can’t dig it up. The ramp lets the wheelbarrow go in and out.

closed gate

Mice and snakes can still squeeze under the gate but the woodchuck and the skunk aren’t that small.

My gates are now hung and the gaps are filled with stone. No skunk, raccoon, armadillo or woodchuck will get under my gates as long as I remember to fasten the latches.

Now the problem will be stopping those garden raiders who climb: raccoons, squirrels and woodchucks.