A few weeks ago David asked me why I wasn’t writing more stories about the crazy and exciting things that happen on the farm/vineyard. I responded by telling him that nothing really crazy or exciting has been happening as of late. Life has been rather
boring quiet around here actually and I just didn’t feel like I had any material to work with. Well, you know that saying, the one that says something to the extent that God laughs at those who make plans, well I kind of feel like that’s happening to me lately except in regards to my statement about nothingvcrazy or interesting happing on the farm/vineyard.
Sometimes I think the Universe really tests me to see if I’m actually cut out for all this farm business. Like when I said the comment above the Universe was snickering and saying in response, “Oh yeah Amanda? We. Shall. See.” Like, the Universe was saving it all up for the past three days or something. I’m slowing starting to learn that there IS always a calm before the storm. And with David out of town, well, we all know by now something is bound to happen.
With the Coyote experience the other day I’ve been rather paranoid, limiting the amount of time my pets get to go outside and counting my sheep so often that people may just start worrying that I a little OCD. Shit, I am. I’m a total control freak!
Like I said in my previous post, I totally get why Coyotes are coming around and I can even respect it. I mean, we’ve invaded their territory really. One of the reasons more and more people are running into wild animals like coyotes, bobcats, and cougars is precisely that. We are living on the edges of their homes or on their homes. It makes me sad but I also don’t want to lose my pets because of it. I was talking with a guy yesterday and he mentioned that his buddy had his trapping license and I thought that maybe that would be a good idea. Until he told me what happened to the animal once trapped. I don’t really condone killing them unless it’s the very last resort.
But that is not really the point of this story. The point was, the Universe or God (whatever you believe in) likes to shake things up just when you start to think life is going smoothly..or is a little sleepy in my case.
So, he morning after I saw the coyot on our property I woke up early, restless about the state of my sheep. It was 5:30 am and I couldn’t stay in bed anymore, so I got up, and headed downstairs. Since I’m always up first in the morning I make the fire. I opened our back door and was immediately met with the hoots and howls of none other then a pack of celebratory coyots. My mind traced the possibilities of what they had killed, someones beloved cat or maybe a wild rabbit all the while praying it wasn’t one of my sheep. I got my wood and walked back inside, closing the door behind me.
I wanted to head out to the barn and check on my sheep but I knew that it was just too dark so I cozied up on the couch and did my morning meditation and waited till the sun was up.
The sheep were fine but hearing the sounds of those coyotes left me incredibly uneasy. With David heading out of town that day, I was scared of what may happen while he was gone. Luckily, Joel, David’s cousin lives on the property and I know I could always count on him to help when need be. So I went on with my day which involved walking the perimeter of the property with my dogs looking for possible holes where the coyotes could have gotten in. Maddy, our pitbull has the most incredible nose and immediately took me to three separate and large openings where something had dug a space big enough for her to climb under. After we finished our walk about I had Joel fix them with the hopes that those were the only spots and my sheep would be safe from now on.
Later that evening, around 7:30 pm, I let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. I’ve been hesitant the last few nights to do so and hung around the back door to make sure all was ok. When they didn’t return after a few minutes (they always do at night, especially when it is as cold as it has been), I threw on my jacket and muck boots and headed out to look for them. I didn’t have to go far. All three were standing on the side of the house barking at something.
As I got closer to the rail of the deck, whatever was out there got spooked and suddenly, seven sets of eyes ran past the barn on the gravel driveway. &*$%! My heart sank into my stomach and my first thought was that it was a pack of coyotes stalking my sheep! As I turned to run back in the house and get my phone I noticed that one of them had horns and quickly realized that they weren’t coyotes but rather some of my sheep. I squinted my eyes to get a better look because for one, it was pitch black out and there was fog as thick as pea soup, and notices another set of horns.
I turned quickly and ran back into the house grabbing my phone and called Joel. I told him he need to get down to the barn right away and hung up and headed back outside. Sheep are usually pretty easy to gain control over. If you get one to follow you, you get them all, and the goats, well, if you have a treat, they are sure to go wherever it goes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on this night.
As I started to walk across the lawn towards the barn I noticed that it wasn’t just the seven sheep it was ALL twenty-one sheep and our four goats. Crap, I thought. I must have somehow left the gate open in the barn which made it even worse, knowing that it was my own damn fault! I stood their frozen just starring at not seven pairs of eyes but TWENTY-FIVE! starring right back at me.
I thought maybe my sheep charming skills would work so I tried that first, cooing sweet nothings while holding out my hand as if I had a tasty treat for them. Lesson number one, sheep are a lot smarter then you think and have excellent senses so if I thought I could fool them into thinking I had something when I didn’t, well, the only real fool there was me!
So, I told them to stay put (please feel free to laugh at me now) and tip toed to the barn as not wanting to scare them into running in the opposite direction. Since we don’t really have sheep treats I thought of the next best thing, chicken food! I scooped a bunch into a bucket and headed back out shaking it back and forth, a sure signal to them that I ACTUALLY had a treat this time. But here was the thing. It was pitch black and foggy as hell so they couldn’t see that it was me and not some big, mean, mangy predator trying to lure them into a trap. Heck, who am I kidding, most of them usually think I’m a big mean mangy predator even when it’s light out. But, I usually can always get the attention of one which means I’ve got the attention of all. Not this time.
Starting to fear that I would have to sleep outside with my shotgun perched over my shoulder while I protected my flock, I started to panic a little on the inside, conscious of the fact that I could not let them smell my fear as it would only make it worse.
Finally, I saw the beam of Joel’s flashlight coming from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I was standing right where they needed to go to get back into the pasture and with me there, they definitely wouldn’t head that way. I started to walking to the left, the direction to get around them and must have spooked one of the wooly bastards (I say that with love) because they took off around Joel and headed straight for the vineyard. If they entered it, we were done for. We’d loose them for good, until the morning when we could see where they went. Even more of an opportunity for a coyote to get one.
I headed off to the left and ran along the vineyard until eventually, they stopped. By this time, we were halfway up to the entrance of the property and I was starting to run out of patience which isn’t a good thing when you are working with livestock. I remembered what David had once told me when we were trying to move the sheep from the smaller pasture to the big one down by the barn. Never push them from behind, always flank them. So, I came up on their side and started to push them so to speak, back towards the barn. You are not really pushing them but guiding them with your body. With a momentary stop to graze on the grassy knoll by the garden, we finally got them heading back in the right direction on the gravel road and then they stopped again.
At this point, I was about ready to go get a dog collar and leash and start walking them back in one at a time. Seriously. I was. But I knew this really wouldn’t work because for one thing, I’d never catch them but also when a sheep doesn’t want to move, they put on their breaks by locking their knees. FINALLY, Joel go the attention of one of the goats and they all started to walk in a single file line back to the barn. Seriously. That is all it took. One minute they were determined to ignore our offers of tasty chicken treats and then the next, they just couldn’t deny their taste buds any longer.
With the exception of a few stubborn ones, they all made it back. I hid behind the gate as the last five pranced back in, slamming the door behind them for dramatic effect only to realize I needed to go in myself to make sure all were accounted for.
After my head count was complete, I apologized to Joel for my silly mistake and headed back into the house. As I finally got all cozy on the couch I laughed out loud thanking the Universe for adding a little excitement to my life. As much as I love to add the slightest touch of annoyance to my stories, I love every minute of it each adventure I have on the farm. So yes Universe, I DO think I’m cut out for this thank you very much!