Al Batt: I raised a stink by kicking a skunk with my bare foot

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I kicked a skunk with my bare foot. In retrospect, I’d rather have had someone else kick the skunk.

Al Batt

I believe in setting goals, but kicking a skunk with my bare foot has never been my aim.

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Let me state this: I’m no skunk whisperer but I like skunks. I saw the animated film “Bambi” several times during my formative years. Flower was a skunk who was a friend of Bambi (a deer) and Thumper (a rabbit). Pepé Le Pew was a favorite cartoon character of mine in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. The French skunk searched for romance, but his scent and an obnoxiously persistent manner impeded his efforts. One sign of spring is the scent of skunk spray in the air. I’ve been tricked into pulling the finger of a skunk and been sprayed too many times. Sometimes I had it coming and sometimes I didn’t. I don’t enjoy being sprayed and I’m not sure the skunks enjoyed spraying me and I’ve learned it doesn’t require a phew skunks to make a big stink. After I’d assumed the smell of yet another skunk, my sister asked how many times I needed to be sprayed by skunks before I’d learn. I was stunk for an answer.

I read in a newspaper about a city considering allowing residents to have chickens within the city limits. Perhaps the high price of eggs is making chickens more attractive to people. I think chickens are wonderful birds and I kept them for many years. I’m guessing a city ordinance might not allow roosters. Roosters crow. In English a rooster says cock-a-doodle-doo, in German, they say kikeriki, Swedish is kuckeliku, Norwegian is kykeliky and in Spanish, roosters say quiquiriquí. A neighbor obtained roosters from me to act as alarm clocks. I told him mine were bred to sing “clock-a-doodle-doo.” Roosters aren’t loud enough to wake the dead but are loud enough to irritate any survivors. Unlike an alarm clock, roosters have no snooze button. They crow morning, noon and night, and you can’t set the alarm on a rooster.

I lived at the edge of town. There was a railroad track between us and the city. I’m not sure if I lived on the right side or the wrong side of the tracks, but I could take an educated guess.

I raised chickens. I had an incubator to hatch the eggs (baby chicks gift-wrapped in shells) and a brood lamp to keep the baby chicks warm in a shed near the house.

There are few things cuter than a baby chick trying to stay awake under a brood lamp. It’s reminiscent of a senior in high school trying to stay awake during the first class after lunch.

I had baby chicks, teenage birds and adult hens. On the night in question (Mr. Batt, please tell the court where you were on the night the skunk was kicked), I’d just crawled into bed and wrestled my pillow from my wife’s viselike grip. She believes the world doesn’t have enough pillows and therefore, being part of the world, she doesn’t have enough pillows either.

I was awakened from my brief slumber by the sound of squawking chickens. I sat upright. My wife took that opportunity to swipe my pillow. There was no time to find my T-shirt cannon, so I put on a pair of pants and rushed outside to find a skunk carrying a chick. That tore a hangnail on my day. I was both flabbered and gasted as I’d forgotten to block the pet door used by the hens and did what any self-respecting chicken landlord would have done — I tried to kick the polecat through the uprights. I booted a northbound skunk on the south end. I wasn’t against the skunk, I was for the baby chick. A man does courageously goofy things when protecting poultry. A dodo with my brains would still be a dodo, but the skunk spit out the chick.

Did the skunk spray me? No, it decided to use its spray for the power of positive stinking.

There was a slight odor, but it was accidental and happened because the skunk was allergic to being kicked.

And stifled a sneeze.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.