Just after I finished tending to the garden for a brief while after work yesterday, the donkeys ambled up from their favorite spot in the pasture. Time for a visit. These early evening visits are a treat - a chance to walk around together, or perhaps a time for brushing and feeding. The donks are especially keen on the possibility of a treat: hay, carrots, or an apple - heck, even a weed seems to taste sweeter when it is eaten from the hand.
This evening, Molly rolled in the dust bath, while Ambrose pestered me with nudges, seeking out a hoped-for treat. Since I'd brought no treats with me, I hoped a good ear-scratching might content him, and that's how I was occupied when I heard rustling from near the entrance to the old groundhog burrow about 40 feet away.
That accursed groundhog! It had recently reopened the hole that we have been regularly filling in ever since Keith stepped knee-deep into it nearly two years ago.
That bold groundhog deserved a good scaring off, so I walked towards it, eager to surprise it. Ambrose heard the rustling, too, and followed. Good! He had found something else to direct his attention to besides pestering me for treats.
I approached the hole quietly. At a distance of about 25 feet, I saw the foraging critter. A skunk. A big skunk. Big.
It saw me, too, but seemed calm enough, though watchful. I backed away as quietly as I had come.
But not Ambrose. He had seen the skunk, too, and judging by the way he had his ears cocked forward as he stared at the stranger, he was intrigued. He slowly approached the skunk. I held my breath.
As Ambrose continued towards the skunk, it turned to face him - which was better than if the skunk had turned the other way 'round. I managed to break out of my trance in order to call out Ambrose's name to no effect. I then whistled - the same whistle I use to let him know it is time for hay. No dice. He wanted to check out the skunk.
The skunk ducked down its hole, but Ambrose kept approaching. He peered into the burrow. Surely, this would end in disaster.
Time for action. I turned around and walked towards the barn, not because I was fleeing the scene, but because going to the barn is as sure a sign of impending hay than anything else, and might be enough to take his attentions away from the dang skunk.
It worked. Molly and Ambrose followed me to the barn. No donkeys received a dose of skunk perfume.
We're wondering if this is the same skunk that had been plaguing our basement up until a month or so ago. Time to plan our next campaign.