Gracie is sitting on the floor of the great room, nose almost to the pine boards, intently focused on whatever is going on down there.
photo credit: Ryan Hodnett @ flickr.com
“Has she had the babies?” I ask quietly, creeping down the stairs into the room. Then, from a few feet away, I hear what has caught my cat’s rapt attention: little mewlings are coming from under the floorboards.
My downstairs boarder is a mama again.
I should explain that when I added the great room onto the house, I had it built on piers rather than on a foundation, which means there’s a crawlspace under the room which is (theoretically) closed off with plywood-and-trellis panels. Evidently, it’s a four-star accommodation for a skunk doe who is looking to snuggle down for the winter and deliver her kits in an easily defensible place. It has the added advantage of being warmed a little by the heating vent into the room above. She’s got the equivalent of radiant heat in the ceiling. Canny lass.
I used to try to seal up the space down there, nailing hardware cloth to the bottom of the plywood panels, bending it outward along the ground and putting rocks on top to hold it, but no wire mesh is going to last long against a skunks’s persistent digging. Eventually I gave up and just accepted that these fur-folks are part of the farm, and if you want to get technical about it, I’m in their space just as much as the other way around, so, as long as everybody minds her own business, we can all live together peacefully. There has been only one notable Olfactory Incident under the floor. I’m not sure whether I had a deviated septum before that, but I do now. Normally, however, spraying isn’t a problem, and, as skunks are rodent killers, I figure Mrs. S. earns her keep.
Besides, the babies are adorable. Continue reading