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We’ve been skunked

By Walter Geiger Occasionally, my wife, daughters or the sweet ladies at my office will approach me with wrinkled noses and ask, ‘Do you smell something funny?’ This continues though they are all well aware that I bear the scars of five sinus surgeries – at least two of which were botched. During the last one, my friend, the superb Dr. Warren Dunn, went in through my left eyebrow and removed a honey-colored batch of MRSA from my frontal sinus. That was in 2011 and the left side of my forehead is still numb. I say all that to say this, I can’t smell shineola. This comes in handy when I am hauling four sweaty soccer girls in my Jeep or when one leaves a rancid shinguard under the seat for a couple of days. I got that ‘˜funny smell’ question at the Barnesville office at the end of a long Friday that followed a lightning-spawned power outage that took out three computers and various external drives the night before. The smell grew worse and it soon became apparent to even my reduced olfactory system that we were dealing with skunks. On Saturday morning Laura got in touch with Austin Dean, who grew up in Barnesville, goes to our church and is a nuisance wildlife expert. This was definitely a nuisance. We opened all the doors and windows, borrowed every fan we could, put out vinegar and baking soda, lit scented candles and used air fresheners to make life bearable. Austin figured the storm scared two skunks into the building through a opening in our metal siding. One sprayed the other and we took the brunt of the assault. Rest assured, that opening is now as tightly secured as Barack Obama’s Ivy League academic records. I gathered two traps from the farm and baited them, as Austin directed, with honey buns. Skunks love honey buns, cinnamon buns, cat food and chicken skin but honey buns are best. We didn’t catch the culprit the first night but, come early Monday morning, it was in the cage. I was prepared to deal with getting sprayed to remove and execute it when I remembered we pay taxes for animal control and called city hall. The nice man tasked with animal control arrived quickly. To say he was not enthusiastic about removing the skunk would be an understatement. I don’t blame him. He went to the sheriff’s office for a hazmat suit but those cost $65. Word spread and the skunk became an attraction. Police officers, deputies and city and county employees who heard the radio traffic came by in droves. None wanted to do battle with the stinking mess. Finally, the city called in an outside firm. It just so happened that firm sent Austin to save the day. He wrapped a blue tarp around the trap and loaded it into the camper shell on his truck without missing a beat. He got a little skunk spray on him for his efforts but seemed oblivious to that development. Grinning, he drove off and the skunk eventually got a .22 round to the head, I presume. Good riddance to it. All that was left to do was clean up a pile of skunk vomit where the trap had been that was brought on by an overindulgence in honey buns while the critter was in captivity. Even I could smell that! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette, Barnesville, and the Pike County Journal Reporter.

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