We learn throughout life that history does in fact repeat itself. Wars are refought over the same dang thing over and over, the economy slumps then bounces back, we eventually turn into our parents, and we make the same decisions that everyone else has made for generations. We’re really not all that different. That’s why I feel such a kinship to my husband’s grandma Willie.
I told her once, “I know when my husband is in a bad mood when he doesn’t try to irritate me, when he doesn’t make jokes when I’m trying to be serious, and when he’s generally not being a smartass.”
As I said this, she eagerly nodded in agreement because Grandpa Fred is exactly the same as my husband.
She replied, “He irritates the hell out of me, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
Of course, Fred has to chip in sarcastically, “You wouldn’t?” with a chuckle.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So today I’m telling her worst farmwives story, so I’ll remember in some moment of complete irritation with this life that one day I will look back and laugh.
One winter, in a dairy farm in a kingdom far, far away, like two miles down the road, Willie Stroupe found that a skunk had made it’s way under her house. It sprayed and the whole house smelled terrible, and she called an exterminator, but they told her they couldn’t do anything for her because the only thing they could use to get the skunk out would be dangerous for the family. The smell died down somewhat and she didn’t hear any noises coming from under the house, so she assumed the skunk had found it’s way out. Willie hoped with time the smell would disappear as well.
Then she heard the scratching from under the house again and shortly after, the skunk sprayed, filling the house with a terrible smell. She was helpless. What could they do? Would it just leave on it’s own? She tried everything she could to irritate it with noise or pounding on the floor, but it only led to more spraying and more gagging from her family.
This went on for a whole winter. Just when they thought the skunk had finally left, the scratching and spraying would begin again. Willie’s daughters became known as the skunk sisters, and everyone always knew when the skunk came back as soon as the sister’s got on the bus for school. Willie worked part time in town at the local hospital, and she lived in fear of coming home at night, scared that the skunk had come back and the smell would be ever present.
The smell never did really go away between the visits. It lingered to the point that they started to forget it unless they’d been out for an hour or two, then the big spray would eventually come and remind them of the awful predicament they were in. Willie again called an exterminator, and they again refused to do the job.
Then they all started to hear more scratching, like there were more skunks under the house. They realized then why this particular skunk kept coming back. She had built a nest for her babies and now the babies were getting bigger. They were populating a whole skunk village under the house, or that’s what it felt like.
One cold night, after the girls had gone to bed, the scratching started and it became intense. The skunks must have been fighting because it was becoming louder and they were bumping around and making noises that seemed to be a mix between a mouse and a piglet. Of course, it was going to happen: one sprayed, then another, then another. They all must have started spraying each other, and the house filled with ten times the smell that it normally did.
Willie had had enough. She wasn’t going to live like this any longer. Like any normal desperate farm wife would do, she raised her hands in the air and started spouting cuss words that would not be acceptable for a younger audience, so this is your PG-13 warning.
She ran upstairs and got the girls out of bed. She yelled to Fred to get some tools. This nightmare was going to end.
After a couple months of hearing these skunks, she knew exactly where they were under the house, and it would no doubt be in one of the most difficult places to get to. That’s why she needed the girls and Fred. She needed every able-bodied person in the house to help move the deep freeze in the back room. They pushed it out of the way with all their might, then stepped back and waited for the next direction from Willie. Purposefully and precisely, she started tearing at the floor, muttering “damn skunks” and other profanities as she worked. Then everyone chipped in and before they knew it, there was a large hole, but the skunks just hunkered down further toward the back instead of running out of the crawlspace for safety outside.
“Fred, get the garden hose!” Willie commanded.
His thoughts were clouded by the fumes, and an ornery remark just wouldn’t come to him, so he did as he was told.
Willie fired up the hose and left it running and waited until it looked like the skunks were finally going to make their way out. She went outside and triumphantly watched as they ran off, but just as she was trying to find something to block their way in again in case they came back, the mama skunk did just that and started to come back.
Willie was angry. She had given this skunk the chance to get out alive, even after torturing her for months, but the stupid thing was coming back. Willie grabbed the first thing she could find to stop the skunk, a cane fishing pole.
She took a whack at the skunk. The skunk reared it’s tale and squirted her.
“You dirty son of a bitch,” she yelled, hitting it again.
And it squirted her again. And the whacking, squirting, and profanity continued as everyone watched. The dog attempted to help, but when he approached he got sprayed and backed off coughing.
At this point in the story, I asked Fred where he was while Willie was battling the skunk. He said he was there watching, of course. Willie then hollered at him, “Well, why weren’t you helping me?”
His story then changed. Fred thinks at this point he went to milk the cows. It looked like Willie had it all covered.
The cane pole broke, making it easier for Willie to wield faster and harder, so it didn’t take too long before the profanities and swings slowed. The skunk was dead.
Willie said that later on she wrote out this whole story in detail and sent it to Reader’s Digest. They sent her a note back saying that they liked the story but were unable to publish it because she killed the skunk and it was too gruesome.
My standards aren’t as high, and I think anyone would have done the same in that position.
When the construction zone we call a home has got me down, when I can’t park in my own driveway because five to ten Festivas are blocking my way, when I find a lamb, piglet, or calf chilling out in my kitchen, I can just remember Willie fighting a skunk, and everything here smells like roses.
Thanks Willie for sharing this story! If you put up with it for so long, I guess I can too.