On Thursday afternoon I started a hot compost pile (just over a cubic yard). Today, Saturday, I awake to a wafting skunk smell and a few circling vultures over the way. The presumptive carcass is close enough to keep our house stinking for days if it does turn out to be a dead skunk. I'm have this crazy idea. Given that I'm probably going to have to remove the darn thing anyways, maybe I should throw it in the middle of the compost pile with lots of sawdust and see if that wouldn't be a better solution to the problem. Do you think the compost would absorb the odor? The pile is closer to the house than the current position of the remains....
If you are doing a hot pile that you intend to turn over every few days, I'd be prepared for at least a week of intense skunkyness. I've composted a lot of animals and the first few turns of the pile are a little rough on the nostrils no matter what kind of critter it is. Rapid decomposition in a hot moist environment is pretty smelly business, but if the pile stays hot, it'll be over in about a week. Stay upwind and be considerate of the neighbors. Or you could let the vultures carry it off.
A skunk was killed near my house and it took about 3 days for the crows and eagles to find it. It was kind of fun to watch a trio of bald eagles (mom, dad and a youngster) working the carcass over an afternoon. Once they were done, the smell pretty much went away, except for whatever was smeared on the grass. It still kinda smells when the wind blows right.
I've composted quite a few critters over the years. I wouldn't turn the heap - I'd just bury it in the middle, make sure it's very well covered, and maybe empty the peebucket over it occasionally to keep it moist and ensure plenty of nitrogen for sawdust. I guess it depends how soon you need to use the finished compost, but mine is a humanure heap and I'm quite happy to leave it for a year or so until I'm certain everything is decomposed. At the very least, with something like a skunk I'd like to leave it undisturbed for a month or two before risking exposing it to the open air.
Thanks for the responses. I think I'll just let the plentiful scavengers do their thing since the pile is pretty close to the house and I'll need it some what soon. None the less, that is good information from both takes of composting (hot and no-turn).
baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and cheap dish soap or liquid soap.
1/4 cup baking soda, one quart 3% peroxide, a teaspoon of soap. Use a glass pitcher, put the baking soda in the pitcher and about 1/4 the peroxide and stir to get it dissolved some. Add the rest of the peroxide and stir a few times, add soap and stir a few more times. If you are washing a dog this will do a 40-50 pound keeshond or up to about a 90 pound short hair dog. Pre wet the dog, pour this on slowly and work in, avoid getting in eyes, ears, or face. Rinse dog off after working it in good. Works much better than the tomato juice (trust me, learned this with a keeshond who could tree young raccoons and more, and would run out the doggie door to do Doppler ARF then suddenly silence and peeling the brick off the house waves would roll.) The kees would still smell a bit but you could stand to be near them for the next few days as the rest wore off. Tomato was what we called 'doggie cocktail' and they smelled of skunk and tomato. And made your eyes water for days.
We mowed, raked and baled a skunk once when I was at home on farm yet. Dad somehow managed to mow the live skunk. He got to clean things up. He forgot where it was and raked it into the windrow. Then he forgot again and baled it. And things jammed. He got to clean the baler, as he did it.
He got the tomato juice bath and mom buried his clothes. I have tried it since and other than the peroxide might bleach your clothes and lighten your hair a little the magic juice will take the odor out of the clothes.
Rather than try to drag the skunk into your compost, what about hauling some sawdust and active compost-pile stuff over to the skunk and dumping them over it? It would surely cover the smell if it's a couple of feet deep. And then you could just leave it for 6 months or a year, and I'm sure when you dig it over it will all be decomposted and no longer skunky.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
I've read a lot of murder mysteries and watched a lot of crime dramas on television and they often use lime to mask the smell of decay. I like the idea of letting the scavengers have it. Sometimes it takes a much deeper hole than two feet to cover the smell of decomposition. That's why graves are six feet deep.