She backed into the far corner, shuddering and quivering with fear, eyes wide but never blinking, she and her fellow hens terrified by this problem skunk. The black and white furry creature started digging around her hen house several nights ago. When the digging had stopped last night, she thought the nightmare was over. She knew it was still in the area. It was impossible to think otherwise after the spraying incident. The dog had gotten too protective of his territory, barking and going crazy, and she guessed he’d gotten too close. The smell had been overpowering, and the dog had whimpered all the rest of the night. But, she and the other hens had kept quiet through it all. They were just happy the digging had stopped for a while.
During the day, they had inspected the ground around their roost and knew the skunk was getting closer and closer to finding a way inside. The claw marks were obvious, and its scat lay all around the yard. They avoided approaching the house, because they knew the space under the wooden steps was a perfect place for a skunk den. Each day, there was more garbage strewn around, and the man who took care of them seemed distressed over his vegetable garden. At first, some of the hens had pecked around in the garden, feasting on the grubs and worms that were now closer to the surface, but they were soon chased off and now gathered closer to the hen house, eating the seed that was scattered for them.
And then tonight, the scratching and scraping had started up again, and she had correctly feared tonight would be the night the farmer’s skunk problemwould become their skunk problem. Their protector, the dog, was locked up inside the house. It seemed the farmer worried that he would be sprayed again, or worse, bitten. The farmer didn’t want a chance of rabies or anything else infecting his dog. So, the hens were locked up tight and then left to fend for themselves.
Sure enough, a loose plank was made looser until a black snout poked through. The snout retreated and a paw came in, patting about and clawing further. The hens were shrieking and clucking, but many wouldn’t leave their nests. She huddled into the far corner with the others, hoping for a miracle, but expecting the worst. Soon, the skunk worked its whole body into the hen house, and surveyed the space. She hoped they had just made enough noise to wake the farmer in time.
The skunk walked over to the nests, and several of the more protective hens shrieked and flew off their nests in a flurry of feathers. It snuffled and chuffed and then, just as it started toward an egg, the door burst open. Hens, grateful for this unexpected exit, pushed and clucked their way out while the startled skunk ran back and forth, unsure which direction would carry it to safety. Feeling trapped, it turned and lifted its tail. All the chickens had fled and the farmer slammed the door shut just in time to barely contain the spray. It was going to be a long night, but at least the hens were safe. All she knew was the skunk as alone now in the henhouse, alone with all the eggs.