We’ve been having daily run-ins with the wildlife around here. I don’t often write about it because I know it probably is not of much interest to anyone else but us here on our little farm and our neighbors.
In late August, we started hearing the coyotes almost every night. Now it is up to an all out chorus every night, at least five times during the wee hours. You folks in the suburbs and cities can call the cops to complain about the neighbors and at least get a bit of satisfaction that way. We here can do nothing but send the dogs outside to bark at the wildlife and hopefully they will leave.
I know that the coyote pups that were born in the late spring are getting older and are starting to need to eat more than when they were just nursing from their mothers. I also assume that their mothers are teaching them some life skills before they throw them out of their nests. (Not much different than we humans treat our children, right?) Hunting and eating are the basic needs of any wild animal.
Last Wednesday, just after sunrise, I heard a coyote that I figured to be right outiside my chicken pen. I ran outside, bare feet and in my pajamas with dogs just ahead of me. There he was, just behind the chicken pen. I yelled at him and the dogs rushed him. He took a slow look and after a minute, with the dogs in hot pursuit, loped off down the field. Usually these guys tear off. Not this guy. I kept yelling, the dogs kept barking and he slowly walked down to the bottom of the pasture. He got to the lower part of the field and just gave me a long stare. I yelled again “go away” and he just kept staring at me. After a 2 minute stare-down, he turned and ran into the orchard.
I started to go in the house, a morning already a little too full of excitement for me without a bit of coffee in me. The dogs took off to the front of the house and lo and behold, there was another one there – watching my every move. They ran him off and I went in the house.
This past week, it’s been hard to sleep. The coyotes sound like they are under the bedroom window yipping, hooting, howling and all. The Farmer thinks they are having fun with our dogs teasing them. Almost everything is securely fenced in at our house right now. The pigs are in a fence that is (I think) too high for the coyotes to climb. The chickens are housed in a pen that coyotes shouldn’t able to get through. There are four rogue chickens who refuse to be cooped up. If they are so desperate for freedom, I just figure nature will take its course.
Our sheep are a couple miles from here so we don’t actively worry about them in the middle of the night. But we always have that under the radar worry, like waiting for a child to come home late at night, once they have gotten their driver's liscense.
Tonight I got home late and The Farmer told me that he had hayed the “wheat field.” (It’s not actually a wheat field but a hay field – the name comes from 50 years ago when a crop of wheat was once grown on it.) He said there was a very large tan coyote in the field with him. The coyote kept circling him as he hayed. After a few times around, he ran off into the woods.
He suspects this is the guy who has been killing the lambs down at our greenhouse barn in Bernardston. (We've been keeping the lambs separate from the older ewes so we can feed them a bit better.) We lost three lambs one night about two weeks ago at dusk, just as The Farmer was arriving to put the lambs in the barn for the night. On Friday, after the sheep move, the kids and I went down to check on the lambs. There was a dead lamb there. The Farmer had found the coyote under a tractor with the lamb just after he had just killed the lamb at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Usually they aren’t so bold to kill in broad daylight. Maybe they are really hungry or just very aggressive. We’re looking into even better fences. Jeremy, the guard llama, isn’t keeping the coyotes away – ever since his tangle with the 2000 lbs. of metal in July. The coyotes must know he isn’t as strong anymore. Or else they figured out he wasn’t really a threat, just an overgrown funny looking sheep.
That’s life, living on the farm.