Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

Target Practice

Life on the farm with children, means they go, where mom and dad go, especially when they’re quite young. Right from tiny tots, they learned how to feed and care for the horses with me. Oh to be young, and think that everything is fun. They never complained, or asked to stay in the house. They wanted to help.
Back in those days, the field was seeded to hay, and there weren’t very many pens as of yet. The round pen was up, as well as the stallion pen, a couple other holding pens and the riding ring. The stallion pen was large and roomy. Built of chainlink fencing, it was a formidable barrier, worthy of any stallion, and seven feet high besides.
The three of us were cheerfully walking along, well, I was walking they were skipping along. We were chatting about all sorts of randomness, when the kidlets noticed something.
“Mom, what’s that?” The boychild asked with some hesitation, “Is that a cat?” He loved cats, and it was his ‘go to’ animal.
“It’s a skunk!” the girlchild excitedly said then turned her attention to me, “It’s a skunk, right mom?”
“Oh, it’s a skunk alright,” my mind racing, I was already coming up with a plan. There was something seriously wrong with said skunk. It was as if, it was pacing the full width of the stallion pen, and when it would reach the end, it would abruptly turn, and head back the way, it had just come. Upon reaching the other back corner of the outside of the pen, it turned and headed back again. It repeated the same action, over and over again, at that consistent, rambling lope.
“Come,” taking the kidlets by the hands, I led them to hubby’s old, parts car, “I want you two to stay up here,” I said, as I lifted them onto the roof, of the fifty-one Chevy, “I need you two, to stay up here, and don’t get down, no matter what, and keep an eye on that skunk. I have to run and get the gun. That skunk has rabies.”
Wide-eyed, the kidlets nodded, as they kept their gaze locked on that skunk and its bizarre behaviour. Farm kids learn early that life isn’t all roses, butterflies and rainbows. They’ve seen animals being born, and know that they die. We also taught them about rabies, especially skunks and rabies. A vet friend had said, if a skunk is out in the daytime, there’s a high chance of it having rabies. If it behaves erratically, it surely does. Even at their young age, the kidlets recognized that there was some seriously wrong, with this skunk.
“It can’t get you up there,” I assured, not that they were too worried about it, “and watch it as closely, as possible. We don’t want it to bite any horses.”
They understood the seriousness of what I was saying, and nodded. There was no point in wasting any time, and I took off for the house.
Returning with the twenty two and an optimistic few bullets in my pocket, I was relieved to see the wee ones, still where I’d left them. Upon seeing me, they both pointed. The skunk was still behind the stallion pen, still running back and forth. Luckily, the stallion wasn’t in the pen that day, and I didn’t have to worry about him, too. I set a lead pill into the chamber, readied the twenty two, took a bead on the running skunk, and pulled the trigger.
Dang, missed it. A puff of dirt popped up, right behind the skunk. It stopped, looked around as if thinking, ‘What in the world was that?’ Seconds later, it was back to the senseless running. The darn critter was like a target at a shooting gallery, and I’d missed it. So focused on removing the danger to people and critters alike was I, that I never gave the fact that I was shooting quite some distance, a second thought. That I was shooting through chainlink, also didn’t figure highly in my plan. I had a target in my sights, and I had to do this. A rabid skunk, could not be allowed to run amok. I reloaded, took aim, fired. Again, there was the telltale puff of dirt that said I had missed, this time right in front of it. Again, the skunk halted its addled gait and looked around for the cause of such a thing.
Every time I shot, the skunk had changed direction. Swiftly reloading, I took a bead on the skunk, as it began to lope along. Another ‘lead pill’ at the ready, I figured if I missed this time, I would have a better chance of getting it directly thereafter, when it stopped for those few seconds, right before it changed direction. I lined up the sights, pulled the trigger, and just barely missed again. As quick as could be, I reloaded as the skunk did it’s abrupt halt. As I lined up the sights, the striped stinker did the oddest thing. It looked around, moved the couple of feet to the fence then stood on its hind feet, staring across that considerable distance with undeniable threat. I swear I could tell exactly what it was saying, too.
“Oh, you’re the one, making all that noise. You’re the one, disturbing the ground I’m walking on. Do that again,” it threatened, “and you’ll be sorry.”
It didn’t get the opportunity for another word. Apparently, all I needed was for it to stop moving, even a few seconds. That last shot, flipped the rabies-riddled skunk end for end, and to our utter astonishment, it sprayed a liquid fountain of noxious odour, a good twenty feet in the air!
“You kept missing, mom,” the boychild stated the obvious, as I lifted his little sister off the roof of the car.
“I did, didn’t I?” I chuckled at his wide-eyed expression, “But I did get it, and that’s all that counts, right?”
“I knew you’d getted it, mom,” my sweet, little girlchild chirped, “and you did, didn’t you?”
“I certainly did, sweetpea,” I laughingly agreed, “We don’t have to worry about that big, old skunk anymore. Now, let’s get chores done, and get out of here. It’s very smelly.”
It wasn’t until a day later, when I dared go close enough to check, that it dawned on me that I had managed to shoot that skunk, through chainlink fence, over a good distance. Not that I wouldn’t have done it that way, even if I had thought about it. A fence and loads of space, between me and a rabid skunk was a whole lot better than too close, particularly if you miss!

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB