The afternoon was frigid but patches of grass were beginning to reveal themselves from under the permafrost, so I let the girls out for the first time in weeks - Hatsy, Lucy and Little White tumbled through the gateway, gave me some good sharp pecks on the knees as they passed (signs of affection), and then I shut the gate on an astonished Roosterman. Hatsy made one last attempt to draw blood from my knee and then she shot across the yard to her favorite dustbath site in the crawlspace under the screened porch. She settled into one of the bowl-shaped ruts made during a previous spa treatment, and started gyrating and convulsing. As funny as it looks, a dustbath is one of the joys of chickenhood. Little White caught up with Hatsy, and I carried Lucy over to join the party.
Roosterman couldn't handle being away from his ladies, so he lept the fence and tore across the yard to attend and annoy his girls. I left them there for a half hour or so, and when I came to retrieve the girls I couldn't believe my nose -- they must have awakened a skunk from its hibernation under the porch. I couldn't see it, but there was no mistaking its proximity. The crawlspace under the porch was way too small for me to go in and collect the girls, and there was no indication from them that the spa treatment was over.. I put a hand over my nose and wondered how I was going to deal with potential disaster... (Can you dip a chicken in tomato juice?..) when I reached to the bottom of my coat pocket and discovered a few stale raisins. All I had to do was show those prized morsels to the girls and head for the coop, and they were at my heels the whole way home, with Roosterman bringing up the rear.
Sweet dreams, skunk.