What Is That Smell?

There is an unmistakable smell in the air at times. Maybe not everywhere. Maybe it just affects those of us in the rural areas more than the city folks. If you have smelled it much before, you don’t even have to ask what the smell is. You know it immediately. Skunk.

They say that February and October are the months when skunks are most active. They are mating in February, and they are having their babies in October. In that case, some skunks need to check their calendars, because today is the first day of February, and I have been smelling them for weeks now.

The most common place to smell a skunk is along the road when we are driving. Evidently, the skunks like to cross rural roads at night. But they are not very good at it. Either that, or they are Kamikaze Skunks, determined to smell up the world, even at the cost of their lives. Over the past few days, it has not been unusual to see, or smell, two or three dead skunks along the roads we drive.

Sometimes, you are fortunate enough to see the dead skunk first. If you see it in time, you can quickly shut off the heater and make sure the windows are closed up tightly, and you might be able to avoid most of the smell. But sometimes you aren’t so lucky, and you smell one before you ever see one. If you even see it. Sometimes you don’t see a black and white body on the road, but you know it is there somewhere. And if you are unfortunate enough to actually hit one with your car, or even to run over the dead body of one so that the smell gets on your tires, I feel sorry for you. Because that smell doesn’t come off quickly.

A couple of weeks ago, we were awakened in the middle of the night by that smell. A skunk had sprayed somewhere nearby, and the smell had gotten into our house. Even after the smell was gone outside, it lingered in the house for a bit longer. We burned several scented candles for a day or two.

We have had a few other close calls with skunks around our house, too. On a few different occasions, we have had skunks in our barn, specifically in our hay stall. Not fun. Fortunately, mothballs seem to run them off. So if we ever go out to the barn and smell that smell, it is time to put out more mothballs.

But the worst time was when one of our horses got sprayed in the face by a skunk. We didn’t see it happen, but there wasn’t any question at all as to what had happened. Our poor horse rubbed her face on a tree trying to rub the smell off, which didn’t work. I mixed up something that the vet recommended to try to get the smell off, which helped some, but she still had it for a while. Poor thing. I hope she learned not to stick her nose wherever she had stuck it.

So if you need to know if your nose is working properly, just drive out to our house in the next month. That would be a good olfactory test, with easy-to-understand results. Just watch where you drive!

Follow Burnsland on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for all the latest updates.