Daring do!

Here is an old memory. We had been calving and were kicking some pairs out of the calving lot. There was about a foot of crusted snow on the ground. Dad had been feeding with the tractor and I was along to open and watch gates. My older brother was on a horse. I was about 10 I suppose.

As we kicked the cows out into a lane leading over the hill, we kicked up a skunk. Dad decided we would just herd him along and get him away from the buildings and dispatch him, so sent my brother after a gun. Dad and I walked a long, driving the skunk after the pairs. He wanted to be away from us, but must have gotten tired of us, as pretty soon, he dove into a cow track in the snow with about half his tail sticking out.

Dad grumbled about him still being upwind from the barns and house and was wishing he had kept going. He turned to me and said, “Just reach down and grab him by the tail and pick him up.” I was incredulous! “NO!” Was my reply. “Oh, go ahead,” he said, “If you don’t let him touch his front feet against you or anything else, he can’t brace himself to spray.”

Then he played dirty warfare and started daring me. Now, this was a man who always said, “Anyone who would take a dare would suck an egg.” But he was also my Dad whom I admired when I was mad or afraid of him. 

He kept it up, teasing and daring me. I got pretty closet that tail and all the time, the skunk just stayed in the hole and the tail never moved.

To, I think his and my amazement both, I reached down and grabbed the tail and lifted my arm! Out came Mr Skunk. And then what was I supposed to do?

He got pretty excited, he wasn’t standing that fr away from me, matter of fact, looking back, I think he tried to back away from me. Big coward!

Now what?

He said” Just keep him out away from you and start walking up the hill. I will get the tractor and pick you up.”

I started trudging up the hill with my skunk, all the while he was turning his head up toward where I was holding him, acting like he’d like to bite me, but never made a sound. Who knew skunks were mutes!

Pretty soon, here he came with the tractor. It had an old style cable Farmhand stacker with a grapple fork on it. He had made a step/seat on the back out of boards. It was easy enough for me to get set down on it and up the hill we went. By now, the skunk seemed to have gotten a lot heavier! I was having to use my left hand to help hold my right arm up and out away from me and every thing else.

We got to the top of the hill and here came my brother on his horse with a 22 rifle. Dad stopped the tractor and told me to swing the skunk out and to throw him as far as I could. I did. I must have been scared or he was lighter than I thought, as I got him quite aways away from us. I figured he would turn and try to attack us, but he just turned and started to waddle off, as if being picked up and carried by his tail was kind of an ordinary thing to have happen.

My brother let him get a little ways away and then dispatched him. He wasn’t that great a shot, but then his target really wasn’t really that far away. I don’t remember much after that. Except I have thought about and told quite a few people about it in the past 55 years and I am sure most thought I was just telling a big whopper. But I swear on all things holy, it is all true to the best of my recollection.

Now, I am not saying I am a hero. And I have done many crazy things since that event. But thinking back on it, I wonder if Dad wasn’t trying to teach me something…. Naw, he was just killing two bird with one stone. He got a problem fixed that was vexing me, and he pulled a pretty good trick on his son! It makes me wonder how this event might have molded me for the other things that went on in my life. I know I have thought back on quite a few occasion when I was contemplating on doing something that seemed kind of crazy at the time and remember thinking to myself, “Hey, I picked up a live skunk  one time and that turned out okay. This probably will too!” 

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