When you own a 106-year-old house there are bound to be some creaks and pops. Sometimes the front door locks on its own and the cordless drill just starts drilling at 2a.m.

Strangely enough, these are not the things that have been keeping us up at night. Just in time for the pandemic, a skunk moved into the back yard and a critter of unknown origin moved into our attic.

When the chewing began, we prayed it was a ghost, but night after night the critter has scratched around driving us both mad. We’ve beaten walls, set traps and, despite my better judgment, I let Zach create a series of booby traps involving water and peanut butter, and yet the critter chews on. When I lay in bed at night, I imagine this huge genius rodent (is it a squirrel? a pack rat? Who knows?) pinpointing our exact location and using its long, sinister claws to scratch right above our heads. Smirk included. Sure, the obvious choice is poison and or an exterminator wielding a toxic concoction that would kill mice for the entire block but we’re dealing with a clever fellow who deserves a fair fight.

While the indoor fight raged on, outside, a skunk with equal staying power had been plotting against us. Night after exhausting night we were woken by the presence of this nighttime marauder, harassing the chickens, and raiding what was left of their food. Shrieking chickens at 2a.m. is the last thing you want to hear as the house fills with that noxious odor that cannot be mistaken.

Never, ever will you run faster than when you are trapped in your pitchblack yard with a skunk. Even better is when they are trapped in the chicken pen and you must creep up in your jammies without getting sprayed.

It seemed we were under attack from all directions. Yesterday we thought we were experiencing a cease fire. No new intrusions outside. Things were looking up, right up until we returned from a late evening doctor’s appointment and walked inside to the smell of skunk. Really, really, bad skunk. Our first thought was our outside enemy joined forces with the inside one. Oh God, the doggie door! We both ran to the back room to find both dogs. We did the obvious thing and smelled them. Hallelujah, they were both clean.

The smell was so strong we just knew the skunk was near until the cat walked by. Frank, like the valiant soldier that he is, must have taken it in the face. He greeted me, like he always does, by rubbing up against my leg. By now the smell was everywhere. Frank must have had a rumble with the skunk and then casually sauntered inside via the open doggie door. Let me just say there is no way to contain a 25-pound cat who doesn’t want to be contained and there is certainly no way of washing him unless you want to die. Well played, Mr. Skunk.

We burned all the incense we had, turned on the fans and eventually cleared out most of the smell. We settled into bed and directly to my left was Frank all curled up in my chair- a purring skunk-scented air freshener. We will have to burn the chair because the sponge bath that I gave him earlier didn’t seem to work. But, as things began to quiet down and we began to nod off the chewing began…


Zach set the live trap and finally caught the skunk. We thought we were so clever right up until we found out there isn’t an animal control person here in Patagonia as of now. We spent the morning trapped in the house with a skunked cat. Thanks to our friend Cholla for coming to the rescue. Our skunk POW is now relocated. The indoor battle rages on.