Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Kind Of a Weird Story

I have noticed over the past several weeks that one of the barn cats has been using my horse's stall as a toilet.  I find a neat little pile of "you know what" in the same corner, day after day.  At some point, I stopped picking it up, hoping that the cat would abandon his bathroom if I stopped cleaning it.

The next day there were two piles side by side.  Oh well.

I do not like to complain about too many things.  As a boarder, I am a guest.  A paying guest, but a guest, none the less, and what exactly is someone supposed to do to prevent the cat from using my horse's stall as his own personal outhouse?  I groveled under my breath for a few weeks and gave the cat my best, evil-sideways-glance whenever I saw him sauntering across the farm yard.  How can he be so smug?  And he doesn't even have the class to cover his business.

I started to wonder, where had the cat been going to the bathroom before he starting using my stall?   There has been at least one barn cat around for as long as I have kept my horse at the farm.  Oddly, my horse seems to really like the cats.  He will put his nose right up to a barn cat's belly and sniff so diligently that he nearly lifts the cat off the ground.  He has never been scratched for this, so I assume they are friends.  Maybe he invited the cat to use his stall.

"Sure!   Come back anytime.   I barely use my stall anyway."

I complained to my husband, because who else can you complain to when you are trying to "be cool" about something?  However, this didn't resolve the issue.  In an effort to help, he cleaned up the mess for me during his last barn visit.  I do not think that I have seen him carry a manure fork before.   It was a nice gesture.

Then one day, after lessons, late on Thursday, I went to clean a pile of horse poop from my horse's stall and noticed the cat's pile next to it.  I was in mid-conversation with the barn owner and just decided on a whim to mention it.

"You know the cat keeps using my horse's stall as a bathroom."

There was a slight hesitation and then,

"It's not a cat."

"Huh?"  Was a small child using my horse's stall as a bathroom?   I was seriously confused.

"It's a skunk."

"WhhAaaTtt?!!?", my exclamation was drawn out, because I was presently holding a manure fork of skunk scat.

Apparently, a skunk had taken up residence nearby and was making himself at home.  I unabashedly proceeded to freak out, vocally worrying if it could be a potentially-EPM-carrying opossum instead of a skunk and generally distraught that a wild animal was hanging around the barn.  They carry diseases you know!

I was reassured that it was definitely a skunk, because one evening when my horse was being led into his stall for dinner, the skunk was in there doing his business.

"My horse could have been skunked!"

At this point, any attempt I may have made to "be cool" had completely failed and I now was in total boarder hysterics.  I am sure that the barn owner was silently wishing that she had just let me continue to believe that it was the cat.  We have a local wild animal guru, who had already been contacted and she assured us that the skunk will not spray in a confined space, because he, himself, does not want to be skunked.

How is that for irony?

So long story short, the skunk is being humanely-trapped tomorrow and will be relocated.  Until then, I have been keeping Harley's stall door shut and his bedding has remained free of "mystery presents".

Last Friday, my teacher came out for a lesson and happened to poke her head into another horse's stall.  After a few moments she commented,

"Hey, I think the cat is going in here."

29 comments:

  1. That's soo funny! My barn cat poops in the freshly made mole hills and then that hill disappears on its own. Good kitty!!!

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    1. Smart kitty! That is very clever.

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  2. Wow - I wonder if Harley has "met" the skunk? They are a huge vector for rabies... glad he'll be moving on soon. :D

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    1. I guess he did meet him informally when they surprised the skunk bringing my horse in for dinner, but he was quickly ushered out so I doubt they got to sniff noses.

      The rabies risk concerns me. A skunk should not be hanging around that close to people.

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  3. Um, wow. Well, I learned something new as I would not have expected that skunks wouldn't spray in a confined area, though it does make sense.

    I'm glad you didn't have any incidents with the little visitor... hope he gets caught easily and finds somewhere else to frequent.

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    1. It makes TONS of scents!

      (Sorry, I couldn't resist. Middle-schoolers like corny human, except for the ones who are "too cool" for humor.)

      Me, too. I will find out soon.

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  4. Well, that's new! It's actually the first time I've ever heard of a skunk coming in to use the bathroom facilities. Guess it's sort of warm and fuzzy in the stall as opposed to going outside in the nasty weather. I hope they can humanely relocate him. Glad that Harley didn't get skunked. My dog Maggie got skunked once and it was no picnic getting the smell off her. It took weeks.

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    1. That is exactly what I was afraid of! I can't imagine giving a horse a tomato juice bath. He would be pink afterward and how would I ever get all of the stink off of him?

      Oh yeah, that and rabies. Not cool! But makes for a funny story. :)

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  5. oh that is so funny.

    a few months ago I noticed that Martin would saunter into the horse's stall to do his business. He likes the shavings I think. What can I do? I am the boarder and the Barn Owner all in one!!

    A piece of advice about the skunk- having had them try to move into my shed and under my deck. If you remove one skunk you create a 'skunk vacuum' and it sucks in another one. However, skunks don't like strong smells (oh the irony). Put moth balls and bounce dryer sheets everywhere they could go. They will find it inhospitable and leave.

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    1. Oh no! That makes perfect sense. There are no vacuums in nature so if we create one...

      I guess I should go invest in some mothballs. Thanks for the tip!

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  6. Haha!

    Skunks aren't such bad critters, they only spray when threatened. They will steal eggs and kill chickens, but I don't think Harley has anything to worry about. They're in the same genus as weasels and otters.

    All the neighborhood cats come to poop in my nice sand arena. I have one that will come in while I'm riding to do her business! Even my horse knows not to poop in the arena! Cats have no shame.

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    1. Wow! How did you teach your horse not to poop in the arena?

      Skunks are fine from a distance. A long distance. I do not like any wild animal hanging around people. I suspect the skunk is sick to behave so strangely. I have never seen a wild animal use the barn as a bathroom, except for the birds living in the rafters, that is!

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  7. Bwahahaha! So funny, Val!!!!!!!

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  8. Too funny! I wonder what Harley was thinking every time the skunk came in? That would have been interesting to see!

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    1. Thankfully, Harley is only in his stall for meals, so he probably only crossed paths with that skunk once when he was being led in and they surprised the skunk in his stall. I suppose I could set up a camera, if I were so inclined.

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  9. Yikes! I have been worried about skunks out at our farm. I feed my barn cats twice a day...and it just seems abnormal for them to be eating that much food. But I'm sure if it was a skunk my dogs would have let me know by trying to make friends with it...

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    1. Uh oh. It sounds like your dog and my horse have something in common: befriending animals of other species. I wish they would stick to humans and barn cats!

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  10. Very funny and totally warranted that you don't want a skunk, or any other animal, using Harley's stall as a toilet.

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    1. Thank you for the support.

      It's a wild animal!

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  11. Lol, great story! I wonder if Harley was friends with the skunk?

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    1. That would not surprise me!

      Before I owned him, he was a solitary horse. I could see him learning to make friends with other animals to compensate, as he is very social.

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  12. So very interesting! Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh. Did they capture it?

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    1. Stay tuned! I am sure that I will find out this weekend.

      I wanted to make you laugh.
      It is totally ridiculous, isn't?

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Kimberly Taylor's comment:
      "Really funny..lol. I'm just wondering why that skunks love to share with Harley's stall. Perhaps your horse has a special scent that attracts that skunks."

      Hmmm. I am wondering how I should take that. Are you saying my horse smells funny? *laughing*

      Please do not leave comments with a link to an outside website. I copied and pasted your comment sans link.

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  14. Oh Ick! I hope they can get it in the trap without too much trouble. That could be a whole 'nother story in it's own right. Who knew that they can't even stand their own stink? I accidentally ran over one that had just been hit by a car in front me of and was still spraying as I passed. Holy cow! I never want to smell that again. blech.
    Nice of Harley to be so accommodating, always the gentleman. he he.

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