The work shed of Andy and Emily Korzon stands next to a chicken coop in the back yard of their Lititz home. Andy decided to replace the shed. While preparing to remove the old shed’s floor, he found a skunk and her litter of half a dozen newborns underneath.
Not wanting to disturb Mrs. Skunk or her babies and risk a foul smell next to the fowl coop, the Korzons called various “critter people,” none of whom could remove the skunks for a week.
So that night Andy lifted the floor of the shed, hoping the nocturnal skunks would emerge and go elsewhere. The plan worked! The skunk family moved under the deck of the house.
“At this point, I was panicked,” observed Emily, the Scribbler’s niece.
So the next night the Korzons focused a bright light on Mama Skunk. This plan worked, too! She moved her litter into the chicken coop. This caused quite a stir among the Korzons’ three chickens before the skunks went back under the floor of the old shed.
In the morning, inexplicably, Mother Skunk was gone. Nowhere to be seen. With all of her babies. All except one.
As Andy finally removed the floor of the old shed in preparation for installing its replacement, he noticed that one of the chickens in the neighboring coop was sitting quite still. When he got close to her, she made not a chicken’s typical “clucking” sounds but the “growl” a broody hen makes when protecting eggs.
The chicken eventually stood up. Beneath her, Andy saw a tiny and probably sickly baby skunk. The chicken had been keeping the little skunk warm since her mama had left.
So this is what Emily thinks happened: “The mom took this one to the chicken coop and forgot it when she moved the others. I doubt that skunks count their babies.”
The maternalistic chicken was reluctant to part with the skunk, but a friend of the Korzons put the baby in a box with a warm water bottle and took it to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Washington Boro. Tracie Young and her mother, Mary Shepler, tried to keep the skunk alive, but, after several days, the little thing died.
An animal of one species caring for the young of another species is unusual but not unique. “We find that if the animal has good maternal instincts,” Shepler says, “she will take care of animals not of her kind.”
Consider this a belated Mother’s Day tribute to the maternal instinct.
All the ships at sea
Dr. Gilbert Clime, Lancaster native and an Air Force major, helped provide air support on D-Day, June 6, 1944. His first impression of the invasion of occupied France was of the number of troop transports anchored off the coast.
“We were all astounded at the ships we saw even though we knew that a great number would be involved,” he wrote to his friend, Dr. Harvey Seiple, in Lancaster. “It actually was impossible to see the horizon because the bows and the sterns of the vessels overlapped in the distance.”
Clime, who would serve as Lancaster County’s coroner, wrote on July 31, 1944, to Seiple, a Lancaster cardiologist. Seiple’s son, Chip Seiple of Memphis, Tennessee, and formerly of Millersville, shared the letter.
The doctor described aspects of the invasion, noting that “these boys on the ground deserve a lot of credit.” He also said he was told that “air support turned the tide of battle.”
Clime, who later served as a lieutenant colonel in the Korean War, died in 1984. Seiple died in 1998.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.