Last night the girls and I notices 4 baby skunks waddling across the grass, heading towards our goat and chicken barn. We had seen them a day or so before without a mom guiding them, so we assumed that they had been orphaned. After watching the 4 kits for about 20 minutes, one of the babies headed towards the barn and entered through the back gate. He or she had to cross paths with the goats, Luna and Areida.
I retrieved a plastic bin from the house, the girls got the water dispensors and Chris found his heavy-duty gloves in the garage. He picked up the baby in the barn and placed it in the bin without any smells or problems. The second, third and fourth went smoothly also. They had been hiding under some sticks next to the fire pit.
In the distance I noticed movement by the far airplane hangar, which is about 100 yards away. Sure enough, there were two more skunks skulking along the edge of the weeds. As we approached them, three more came out from around the corner of the hangar. These seemed a bit older, and a little more feisty. By the time we had placed them all in the bin, 5 more came out from the weeds and then we spotted another one coming out of a den about 100 feet away. Yep, that is about 15 baby skunks.
We thought we could possibly managed to help the four skunks we originally found, but we had added far to many to the bin, without a real plan in place. The bin began to smell like rotten eggs and onions mixed and so did my husband; skunk wrangler Chris.
We ended up taking them out of the bin and setting them all near the den and with some water outside of it. As we walked back to the house, we became acutely aware that the air was thick with stinky skunk smell, mostly near the place we had originally set down the bin. We could hardly take in a breath.
We did a bit of research and found out that there is not much you can do for orphaned skunk kits. I contacted the Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is the largest wildlife rehab center in the US, and they told me that if the kits were brought into a center, they would be euthanized. They are the number one carriers of rabies in the state of Minnesota. On a more positive note for the skunks, I read about the impact skunks have on keeping balance in our environment. They eat the critters, including the Black Widow Spider, that we don’t really want lurking in our yards.
It is a bit sad to think that they will most likely die from starvation, but we all learned something and we did try to help them. If it wasn’t for the awful smell, they probably would have been living in a bin in our porch, drinking reconstituted puppy milk replacer. That is not to be their fate, so as a wise auntie said today … now I need to let Mother Nature take over.
Action is the antidote to despair. – Joan Baez
I am beginning to understand that I am not the only one in the world who enjoys reading quotes. They are everywhere. Once I start reading them, I can’t stop. Then, how do I choose who to include in my writing? It is like I have all of these amazing and inspiring folks sitting in front of me and I can only choose one to come with me. To all of those wonderful souls that made the choice to say what was in their hearts… thank you.
Yesterday I spent about 20 minutes in the garden and became thoroughly overwhelmed. All I could see was what we had not yet accomplished. I was seeing the weeds, the seeds that have not yet been planted, and the many other obstacles to having the garden that I desire. I dropped my shovel and went inside.
There are two concepts that both brought me back out into the garden and then kept me there last night. The first is a permaculture principle by David Holmgren: Use small and slow solutions. The small solution is that we are growing our own food; the slow is utilizing organic practices. Then, remind myself we are engaging in a powerful practice, with many others, towards self-reliance and heading in a direction of energy decent. Instead of thinking about what is not right, get out there and look at the promise of our hard work and being apart of something greater than ourselves. The weeds will be in the dark and dying as soon as the bale of straw arrives, yet much is to be learned in the meantime; the trellis will soon be complete , but the construction of it, by my husband and daughter, is where most of the beauty will stay; the rest of the seeds will get planted, but why the rush? Why would I rush through the quiet dusk hours with my husband, children and animals, digging, admiring, planting and planning? To speed up those hours so I can quickly have my prized garden is such nonsense.
This brings me to the second concept that keeps me working in the garden and also in every other part of my life. When I dropped my shovel and stomped off into the house, with visions of other people’s beautiful gardens in my mind, I was being selfish. When I want my way rather than what is, that is selfish. To expect that our garden is going to be anything other than what it is at this very moment, is selfish. To be relieved of that selfishness, all that I need to do is see the garden’s beauty as it is today and to not look beyond the weeds, but see each and every one of them as an opportunity for change and acceptance within myself and for the world.
Here is a list of what those weeds have already taught me:
1) If I persist, change does happen.
2) I can make a choice to look at a whole in small parts. Instead of seeing the entirety of the garden, I see the small areas that will be or are already transformed into the herb garden, Sunberry corner, or Sunflower path.
3) Process is more powerful and meaningful than product itself.
4) Each time I dig, and turn over the ground, I am investing in my beliefs.
5) To find joy in nature, without taking from it, is a triumph.
6) Each and every one of those weeds reminds me to accept, but to also act. To find the sweet balance between- this is the way it is and taking action to stand up for what I believe in.
7) Those weeds that have bathed in sunshine and not chemicals, have connected me with others in the world who care about the same things I do.
8) Find humor in all things painful.