Strengthening my gag reflex.

I would try to pretend I didn't spend the last hour at a mink farm, but unfortunately the smell of carcass has permeated my ENTIRE BEING. You guys. OMG. So, the local mink farm (yes, mink. Furry, crittery things) is closing up shop after 70 years. SEVENTY YEARS of mink-ing. Er, mink raising? Mink farming? MINK RANCHING. And today the whole lot of 'em are being gassed and pelted. Like, thousands of mink.

Side note: I learned the plural of mink is mink. Not minks. Huh.

And of course, being the investigatory journalist that I am (cough), I headed out to that there mink farm of my own volition. And Jesus, that was my first mistake.

The ranch was up on a hill. In fact, you'd never even know it was there unless you drove to the top. And then it's nothing but mink huts (?) as far as the eye can see. At one time, the farm had 12,000 mink. It's, like, Planet Mink. Planet of the Minks. Mink Wars. You understand...

I parked the car outside a shack. I could see people working diligently inside, but little did I know they were skinning mink carcasses, although the putrid smell should've tipped me off. Oh, my God. It smelled SO BAD. It was sour. Bitter. Dead. Ew.

I'm retching.

:: barf ::

I avoided the shack, and instead spent some time chatting with He Who Runs Mink Manor (HA. Mink Manor. You like?), and he told me the whole 70-year history. The fur trade, the daily grind, the one time animal rights activists let loose thousands of mink, who then ran free through the city, most of which ended up dead on the highway.

They make money off that fur. Lots of it. But I think I'd just want to cuddle with mink all day, not gas 'em and rip off the fur. But, you know, to each their own.

One of the pelters (mink slang for: He Who Rips Off Fur) shared a few of his stories, too, making gestures with his hardened hands, all bloodied, and whatnot. And then he said it:

"Aw, hell. Come on in and see how we do it."

Uh. Blink. Blink-blink.

Do I say no? That felt rude, so next thing i know I'm walking into the shack, and that's when my insides started screaming BLOODY FREAKING MURDER, OH MY GOD DEAD MINKS EVERYWHERE!

Men, like eight of them, were cutting off mink feet, ripping open pelts, tearing the fur off from head to tail in one sweep. And tossing mink around. They were dead, of course, but oh my God. There was blood and ripping and feet, on the floor. Little mink feet.

:: ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod ::

And the SMELL. The putrid, damn smell. This was the moment, I realized, that I would die. Right here on Mink Manor. And then they'd probably skin me.

The men were working hard, making jokes, commending me for my bravery.

"You wanna try?" they asked, more than once. Perhaps I said no, or perhaps it was because I was GREEN, but they realized that no, no little blondie probably does not want to skin a mink.

(Maybe tomorrow?)

What I wanted to do was VOMIT. Ew. I mean, I'm not an animal rights activist, not a vegetarian. You know, I kill bugs. But what I do not do on a regular basis is skin animals. Of any kind. Or watch it for that matter. Or listen to it. Or SMELL it.

Whimper.

After chewing the fat with Mama of the Manor, who's been there all 70 years, skinning minks, I escaped. But the smell did not. The smell - of mink carcass - is ALL OVER ME. I tried eating lunch, but everything I put in my mouth was mink. I was convinced.

I am screaming on the inside. SCREAMING. Ew.

I am totally having nightmares about this.