Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

September 6, 2017

Meet Topper

I returned to work yesterday (Sept 05) and it will probably take me a bit of time to adjust to the "back to the routine" gig. I woke up much too early this morning just because that's what I've been doing during my time off. It was nice to see our backyard Skunk though with me getting up so early. Angie has named him "Topper" and you can see why...

There's not a lot of white fur on him, just a patch on his head that runs into his shoulders and then a bit on the tip of his tail.

Topper has been sleeping under our shed most days. We are okay with that. We hope he spends much of his life here in the backyard with us and stays away from the roads.

Watching him morning and evening the last few weeks, I can see his routines. He knows where to look for food out back, finding stuff under the bird feeders, but also he's made some pretty big holes in the lawn too. Once again, we are okay with that. Angie and I would rather have a lived in backyard, enjoyed by the wildlife, than a well manicured lawn that you cringe whenever a dandelion pops up or a Skunk digs a hole in. We get joy from the wildlife. We don't need the stress of worrying about perfect grass.

One morning while snapping some photos of him, this happened.

Of course it gave me the idea of a potential photo op another morning.

Part of Topper's routine is to sniff out our deck steps. We have a suet feeder above the steps and sometimes pieces of the suet fall down when the Downy Woodpeckers are hammering away at it. Topper cleans it up.

I also occasionally feed some of my Pigeon buds there and they throw stuff around, which Topper is also finding. As you might notice in one of the first photos, the Pigeons don't really know what to make of him.

This morning I set out the measuring tape to try and give people an idea on his size. He's quite small in my opinion.

I know I've mentioned it recently with the young Skunks we have been seeing... I'd like to believe they are the young ones of that poor mother Skunk I tried to help back in July. You may recall she could not be saved because her injuries were too severe. But she was given peace, an end to her suffering. It was the humane thing to do. It's nice to believe that we are now helping her young, more so one of them by letting him claim our backyard as his territory (not a lot of people would allow that to happen with a Skunk). Without any proof either way, nothing wrong with thinking this way; is there?

He loves our fountain.

Topper is not habituated by any means. I have a decent camera with some long lenses that allow me to pull him right in through photos. The key is to remain quiet and still, let him roam around and do his thing. If he wanders too close, I make him aware I am there. I find with the Skunks is that when they are busy looking for food they are rather oblivious to everything else. They let their noses do the work, face to the ground, and don't look up a whole lot. So there are times when suddenly Topper is coming right at me. I don't need to be drastic, just slide my foot along the ground seems to work better than a light cough, clearing of my throat, or a "psst" noise. Once he's aware, he looks right at me, sometimes the fur flares, the tail goes up and he freezes; other times he immediately backs off and goes another way. It's when the fur flaring tail popping moment happens that I don't do anything else in the moment. Would he spray? Why spook him any further to find out? Moments later he calms down and goes elsewhere away from me.

I'm no expert on these animals. I just use common sense although some people think I'm off my rocker enjoying the sights of them out back. What's not to love? They are omnivores, which means they eat both plant matter and animals including mice and rats. Toronto had quite the rat issue in 2016, hundreds of complaints from all over the city. If they promoted the benefits of Skunks in our community, people might have a little more appreciation for them.

Skunks can be a carrier of rabies, here is a list of reported cases in Ontario from past years. But who is out there trying to touch one? Certainly not me. The not wanting to get sprayed factor keeps me well enough away. There's risk in messing with any wildlife be it viruses or just plain ol' blood shed. I don't like to use the word "rabies" with any animal. Rabies spreads fear and misunderstanding. It justifies some people to harm these animals. Just enjoy them. Don't f**k with them. But enough about that, you get what I'm saying and what I'm about with our local wildlife.

We will enjoy Topper for as long as he stays with us. Naming him has added an emotional attachment but even all we don't name, we still have a love for them. He is here. He has made our backyard all the more special. And I hope to share more about his life in our backyard in another blog.


Anonymous said...

Sweet Skunk Rob!

I don't know who is more blessed. You and Angie for having Topper or Topper for having you and Angie?

Looking forward to more about him.


Anonymous said...

One of my fave blogs by you to date. Smooth flowing fun read with lots of photos. I agree about the lawn statement but will admire these stinkers from my window if I ever see one. You can keep the spiders too. :)

David M A O'Neill said...

Thanks for sharing Rob. I hope you and Angie and Topper have many more memories together.

Jean H said...

What a heart-warming story, Rob and Angie. Thoroughly enjoyed the read of it. You both are such kind people, and you share the love of nature through your actions. What a blessing to have Topper in your backyard. We have had a skunk pass through ours on occasion, but never have had one here on a regular basis. Seems it is just raccoons and rabbits that make our backyard their home. Still love seeing them, too.


Christine Aspinall said...

I live in a small town in the Eastern Townships of the Province of Quebec in Canada. One evening a couple of weeks ago I heard the cat dishes rattling downstairs in the kitchen. As the rattling was a lot busier and louder than usual, I began to think that it may not have been the cats. I slowly went down the stairs halfway and immediately noticed 'Flower' our little backyard visitor having a grand time chowing down on the leftover bits in the cat dishes. So, a dilemma. What to do? Well, exactly nothing but wait. As she/he inspected the kitchen for other goodies, I slipped the rest of the way down to the door which was at the bottom of the stairs and managed to quietly open it completely. Finding nothing more to raid, Flower waddled slowly towards the door and out. There was never even a whiff of scent either inside or out, but I resolved then and there that I would not leave the door open again for the cats. They will have to knock first! :)

Debbie Gallo said...

Fantastic story, Rob. My favourite so far. Topper, first of all, is adorable. But more than that, I love hearing how open you and Angie are to inviting animals of all shapes and sizes into your yard. I agree completely. I'd choose to watch the antics of birds, skunks, raccoons, opossums, and anything else that ventures into my yard over a television show any day.

Be careful as you ease back into work so you can keep healing!

Rob said...

Thank you everyone for the comments. It's nice to see Topper (and this blog) are so well received. Cheers!

Karen said...

What a cutie. When we lived up near Mattawa we had a little skunk who lived in harmony with us. She would hear me open the compost bucket early in the evening and come running to see if any good tidbits missed the bin. If we were sitting out enjoying the evening she would come around to see if we had any good eats to share. No, we didn't feed her, but you know, if you are eating chips in the dark, some bits are obviously going to hit the ground.

Judy Eberspaecher said...

I enjoyed your post and I appreciate your attitude toward nature and the importance of keeping things natural. I also have 3 young skunks that come to my backyard and compost heap. There are lots of nutrients there for them. I'm glad if they dig holes because then I don't have to put up with grubs in the lawn. We've had skunks living under our veranda at the cottage for some 44 years. When we are sitting around the fire, they come by, we freeze but slowly put a hand down they will take a piece of wiener or anything. Such cute critters.

Angie in T.O. said...

Wow, so many comments! Loved all the skunk love, and enjoyed your stories as well. Kudos to Christine for not freaking out with the skunk in the kitchen!! LOL!! I don't know if I would of remained so calm.