2:22 a.m.: Honey, Get Up. There's a Skunk in the Stove.
Develop | Posted February 20, 2009

A few words I never thought I'd utter: "Honey, get up. There's a skunk in the stove." This bizarre adventure started this morning at 2:22 a.m., when I woke reluctantly to odd scuffling and squeaking sounds. Half-asleep, I stumbled into the kitchen and turned on the lights to investigate, feeling a little like the kid in Close Encounters.


Meanwhile, my slow-moving brain is processing two things: 1) there's a terrible stench in here, which probably means there's a skunk in the house (plentiful wildlife is one of the many joys of living in Texas) and 2) maybe it's not in the house, because the cats haven't cornered anything… but it sure smells like it! It didn’t take long to deduce that there must be a skunk stuck in the air ventilation system in our stove (we have a down-draft vent that sucks the stove odors out of the kitchen and into the yard).The frantic scrambling, squeals, and general ruckus sounded like the unfortunate creature was trapped right up under the stove.

SkunkCartoon3

OK, so how the heck do you get a stuck skunk out of a 10-foot stove pipe?! (Really, I'm curious in case this ever happens again – please leave suggestions in the comments here. I'm also taking suggestions for how to get the rest of the smell out.) All of this is more than my sleep-befuddled brain can take, so I head back into the bedroom and turn on the light. After all, two brains are better than one (hey… same logic applies for code review!).

"Honey, get up. There’s a skunk in the stove."

It turns out my initial assessment was wrong. A flashlight to the ventilation pipe's uncovered exit into our yard (or should I say entrance into our kitchen) revealed that there wasn't one skunk, there were two. And they were fighting… thus the fuss. Perhaps they had a disagreement over den rights to my nice cozy (now fouled) kitchen. Surprisingly, I welcomed this news. While two is not better than one where skunks in one's home are concerned, it provided a welcome explanation for the frantic scuffling sounds. Finding two fighting skunks meant that one wasn't stuck and we didn't have extract a terrified, agitated wild animal with fangs, claws, and stink glands from a 10-foot pipe.

Banging pots and pans on the stove sent them both scurrying away, which solved the first problem of unwanted wildlife on the premises. Problem #2 is a little more challenging… how does one get skunk smell out of your stove pipe?!


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