“My nemesis in the neighborhood was a skunk.”

So I like skunks — They’re cute. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a baby skunk, those are like, off the charts adorable. I don’t even mind the smell of a skunk as long as it’s kind of faint and distant. Strong skunk, you know, I find that as repulsive as anyone else does, but like faint skunk? Not terrible. 

So — so the reason the skunk became my nemesis was we had a duck pair. Well, this mama duck started nesting in my flower bed. And she built herself a nest, and you know what they do, they like, lay an egg every day. They lay an egg and then they leave it alone because they’re not gonna — they don’t want to start incubating it until like, it gets them all done. It lays an egg a day, and then when it’s finally done then it starts sitting on the nest, and that way all of them will kind of develop at the same rate and they’ll hatch about the same day. So I kept a close eye on this duck, we were really careful when we were like, leaving the house to give it wide berth. So we wouldn’t startle her, I mean, and I was really looking forward to them hatching and us having like a little duck family around. 

But one night I could hear from my bedroom window which is like, kind of above her nest. I heard this like, really distressed quacking. And I like, bolted out of bed, tore downstairs, and went out and realized that the duck was off the nest, quacking all upset, and there was a — I can’t remember if I didn’t see this the first night because this happened a couple times, but anyway, I could see a skunk had come and was eating the eggs. And I was like, “Oh, for God’s sake,” like, that was like, I mean I get it’s nature and everything, but it was really, um, like, upsetting to me because I could mama duck was upset and I wanted to see those babies. So like I scared the skunk off that night. 

But this, this kept happening. And sometimes she would get so upset she would like, fly off and just leave. And I was worried one time, she’s not going to come back. So I grabbed the eggs that were left. I created a nesting box of, like, my own. I mean, just like a cardboard box, put a, like, a heating pad in it and like covered ’em up with, with, you know, a blanket. I think I went online and saw how warm they’re supposed to be, got a thermometer, anyway. So I basically made a little incubator box and I thought “I don’t want her to freak out and leave, I’m just gonna keep them warm at night. And then I’m gonna put them back first thing in the morning, and then she’ll come back and find her eggs and everything will be fine.” And that actually worked one night. And I think I did it another night. 

But like, aft- it was after the skunk would come. Like, ’cause I didn’t want to scare her off the nest myself. Because I was really worried she’d take off, I’d have these eggs, I’d have to take care of them, you know the damn things’d like, uh, hatch and like, imprint on me and you know, then I gotta raise baby ducks. So, my — I just wanted to keep ’em alive, but I wanted them to be with their mom. So I, I only wanted to grab them like after the mama duck had left in distress. 

Like I said, I did that a couple nights. And then I thought, “I can’t keep doing this. It would be better — I just want to keep those damn, the damn skunk off the nest.” So we tried rigging a motion sensor light that would come on when the when it got close and scare it off. Um, I tried putting chicken wire around the nest but, like when I did that, like, mama duck left and I wasn’t sure she could like, fly. Like she kind of — if you do that, you know, she needs to go in like a helicopter, right? She needs to stop and drop and I didn’t think she could do that. She tended to like, land in the yard and walk over to the nest. 

So all those solutions weren’t working. And I thought, “you know,” — and of course I’m losing a couple eggs every night to this stupid skunk. And I thought “I am gonna have to — I’m gonna have to like sleep out here and guard the damn thing.” So I set up a — I actually went and bought a lawn chair that fully reclined. I set it up in the front yard, but not far. It was not so close to the nest that I was gonna upset mama duck. But, but between where the — like where the skunk came and — like, I knew where — I could tell where the skunk came, came from. And I also thought I knew this skunk’s schedule, because like, it would have been about the same time of night when she would wake me up squawking and quacking before. 

So, I was unprepared for how cold it would get at night, like even in the summer, because I didn’t have a tent and so I was getting really damp, my blankets were getting damp and because it was on a, on a, like a reclining chair, like, the air could get underneath me. So I was like, freezing cold out there, I was not sleeping very well. It’s really fitful. But I made it past like, I don’t — 1:30 or whenever it was that the skunk would come in the, uh — would normally come. 

And so I thought that’s it. I’m like packing it in. I’ve defeated the skunk. It wouldn’t come because I was here. So, problem solved, I’m the hero. Now I’m gonna go to bed. And I went to bed and — you know, I don’t — can’t — this happened a couple of years ago, so I can’t remember all the details. Anyway, the skunk came back, made a second round sometime, I don’t know when, and like completely destroyed the nest. I think we were down just a couple of eggs. They did — the ones that we had did hatch, but then the — a skunk will even eat a duckling, which I found out in an unpleasant way. At the end of the day, I don’t know if any ducklings survived that skunk, but I was so mad at that flipping thing. I can remember, like, I can think of one of the nights where I caught it. You know, I’d see — I saw it coming, lumbering up the hill in its stupid skunky way and I was just like, “Oh my God, I hate you so much. You’re gonna destroy these baby ducks.” 

And, um, anyway. So, my nemesis in the neighborhood was a skunk.

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