As a test of whether predators could get into our new henhouse, we laid bait inside and locked it up. Our chicks are still young and a few weeks from being ready to be outside on their own, so this seemed a reasonable precaution.
Sure enough, about three days later we discovered part of the bait had been taken. And there was some digging inside the coop, too. But the animal that had been digging had been trying to get out, not in. Weird.
So then a few days later we checked again, and this time the animal had practically trenched out the entire building trying to get out. It had been really, really trapped. But it appeared it had escaped by digging about two feet under some buried wire, so I took a couple of hours to repair and reinforce the entire building perimeter and extend the underground wire where it had exited. Finished with my reparative duties, I rebaited, and locked the coop.
A day later, Spooty Dog went out for her morning constitutional and patrol, and started barking so incessantly that we went to investigate. Skunk in the henhouse! Spooty Dog had antagonized it from outside the coop to such a degree that it had sprayed everywhere. Thankfully, it had mostly missed her, but of course she did get a dose of it.
Since there was no evidence that the skunk had actually gotten in, only that it was having a devil of a time getting out, we figured we had trapped this animal in when we first locked the coop up. It hung out, ate the bait, escaped, and went back in only to be trapped a second time when I fixed its new exit/entrance.
But by this point, that didn't matter. The henhouse smelled like a skunk bomb, our chickens in the house would need the coop soon, and this animal just wouldn't leave. It was under the henhouse stamping it's little feet and preparing to spray us over and over. We did everything we could to try to shoo it out from under the building, but it wouldn't leave. And it was impertinent about it. It flaunted its ability to stand its ground, and it teased us.
Well I'd never seen him do anything like it before, but Head Chef just kinda snapped. It don't know, maybe it was 'mountain fever', or the skunk's attitude and Spooty Dog's barking, or all of us standing around getting nothing resolved. Head Chef just muttered a few curses and got kinda white in the face and scrambled under the henhouse after the skunk. I was in awe for a second and then yelled after him - what was he thinking!? But he rushed it on all fours and grabbed it like a naughty cat even though he was retching from the stench, and pulled it out from under the coop with his bare hands. It was scrambling and scratching to try to get free, making these freaky little chirping noises, and spraying wildly. Head Chef was hit, and the yellow stuff was dripping down his shirt in oily globs like warm butter-flavored Crisco.
He got to his feet and I guess this was the point that reason came back to him. Still holding the skunk, he looked down at himself and at the skunk, and vomited piteously. He dropped the skunk, who ran off away from the henhouse and us. Head Chef hurriedly stumbled toward the house while trying to get out of his clothes and yelling about how it burned. I had ahold of Spooty Dog, and together we rushed ahead and turned on the outdoor shower. I grabbed the skunk remedy makings we keep stashed - some baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap -and provided them to the shaking and now somewhat panicky Head Chef.
He showered for probably 45 minutes and then did it again three more times. Even then he swears he can smell it and it's ruined the taste of food for the past three days. I guess he got some up his nose? To avoid laughing at him, I have to call on all my self discipline when I watch him try to wash out the inside of his nose ...
Head Chef vacillates between claiming he's a real man for grabbing a skunk with his bare hands, and between seeming pretty embarrassed for behaving like a crazy, feral mountain man. Although he can kinda laugh about it already, I am forbidden from laughing or I get in trouble.
I'll get to do that later, I guess.