Yesterday was one of those days. The kind of day when everything you had planned gets flipped on it’s head and you realize you have to just roll with it instead of trying to control every last bit.
It also happened to be one of the most dramatic days where animals are concerned in a long time. Sometimes I think God just does stuff so that I have something to write about on this blog.
It all started as I was driving to McMinnville to teach my Thursday morning yoga class. I was driving down the long country road that leads from my house to the small town of Carlton. The fog was thick, like pea soup, and I reminded myself to slow down because this is the country and anything could dart across the road and then I’d have to live with the fact that I hit something because I wasn’t being a responsible driver.
As I turned down the windy part of the road, right before you enter civilization again, I approached a sight that struck me as unusual. As I drove by, three giant black cows stood on the side of the road grazing within inches of where my tires hit the pavement.
I continued driving, cranking my head to take in what I was observing. My first thought was, ‘that seems awful close to the road for someone to let their cows graze,” and within seconds my senses came crashing back and I realized the reality of the situation. I made a u-turn the first opportunity I had and drove back in the opposite direction. These cows weren’t put there by their owner, they had gotten out of their pasture. I knew that if I just kept driving one, if not all, of these bovid mammals would probably become roadkill. Especially with the way people drive around these parts.
Just as I drove back up to the house they were settling in front of, another women has pulled in the driveway and was already at the front door of the home. I parked and jumped out of my car to hear the woman inside tell the other woman that the cows were not hers and close the door.
Not knowing exactly what to do, we decided that we needed to get a hold of someone from the non-emergency hotline (even though in my book, this was CLEARLY an emergency). I told her that I would drive down to the Carlton City Hall and ask them for help but first we needed to get the cows off the side of the road.
I puffed up my chest and straightened my stance so that I appeared bigger then I was and began galloping at them ,waving my hands and shouting for them to get back. Slowly, they started to back away, every so often turning around to glare.
Once I was satisfied with where they were I told the other woman that I would head to City Hall and she said she would head to where she thought they might belong.
Once I reached City Hall I got out of my car and headed in. The woman at the front desk said that she believed she knew who they belonged to and called the non-emergency hotline and told me that they would take care of it. Feeling satisfied with the outcome, I headed back to my car and the other women pulled up and said that she had found the owner and they were on it.
We both patted ourselves on our own backs, wished each other a nice day and got back in our cars, continuing on to our destinations.
As I was driving however I had a thought. As proud as I was from preventing potential roadkill, maybe they were trying to escape their impending doom of becoming ground beef?! Crap!
When I got home from my class and the two meetings I had following I was standing at my kitchen sink washing the dishes that were left from last nights dinner, something that rarely happens as I can’t sleep if their are dirty dishes in the sink (thanks mom). I was going over, in my head, what I needed to get done today for work when I happened to glance up and out onto the property. The weather has been incredible here in Oregon, unlike any I have experienced since moving here two and a half years ago. The warm sun lit up the sky and the leaves the color of fire and gold.
As I was admiring this place I get to call home my grateful thoughts were disrupted by something out by the dock that sits over our pond. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. “Is that a dog?” I thought to myself. I looked around to see all three of my furry companions resting on the deck. Maddy, our brown Pitbull was sitting upright starring straight out at the pond. I leaned forward as if that would help me get a clearer view. Tthe dog-like animal turned to the side and that was when I made the realization. It wasn’t a dog however, it WAS a dog-like creature. It was a coyote!
Now I’ve written about coyotes on the property before and all those stories had been exciting at the time but none were as much so as this particular day.
Usually I only see them in passing, way out by the back pasture walking the perimeter of the vineyard but today, today was different. This coyote was braver, more determined and from the looks of it, he was hungry and had his sights on my flock.
After my momentary paralysis wore off, I realized that I needed to do something. This guy was way too close for comfort. He was about 50 yards from from the electric fence. I’m sure he could taste the warm blood of my favorite sheep, Money, who was grazing just on the other side.
I quickly ran out onto the deck, once again waving my arms and screaming obscenities and insults unsuitable for most ears at the top of my lung. I took off from the deck, running down the grassy knoll that leads out to the open grassy lawn. The coyote, obviously not disturbed by my antics, cautiously turned around and began prancing away melting into the canopy of the golden leaves that make up the vineyard. Looking back to size me up, I swear he gave me a “f-you glare” that only made me angrier.
I ran back to the barn, grabbed some wooden stakes and a hammer and jumped in our RTV and drove around the vineyard to patch up any wholes under the fence he may have gotten under. Ha ha ha, see if you get through there you little bastard, I thought to myself as I slammed down on each wooden post. Satisfied with my job, I headed back to the house to finish the dishes and press on with my day.
What felt like five minutes but was actually about and hour and a half later, I was once again at the kitchen sink (sometimes I actually DO spend all day in the kitchen!). I had been keeping pretty good tabs of my sheep and knew that they were out in the far pasture and that the goats were with them. For some reason I always feel better when the goats who have big, powerful horns are flanking my flocks side. I know they can do damage to some puny coyote.
As I just finished up chopping an onion for the beet burgers I was making for dinner I went to the kitchen sink to wash the knife. I glanced back up and out the window as I always do, just to make sure everything was okay. I noticed something way out on the grassy knoll in the middle pasture. I tilted my head to one side, squinting my eyes again to get a better look. Obviously it’s time for me to get new glasses.
The pastures are broken into three sections which is hard to describe in writing but there is the piece of land by the barn, closest to our house and it feds back to a small forested area with a grassy knoll in front and then weaves it’s way back to the far pasture by the vineyard. There was an old tree that feel down last winter that Joel, my husband’s cousin had just chopped up and left in a huge pile out in the middle pasture. To the the left of that I could make out a silhouette of something, obviously and animal.
I headed out onto the deck to get a better look. It looked, from a distance, like one of our Jacob sheep, Doris who has two horns that curve back toward her neck. However, with the days earlier event, I decided to put on my boots and head out that way to get a better look. As soon as I hit the grassy slope that lead out to the pasture I realized exactly what it was. The coyote had somehow made it’s way INTO the pasture that was surrounded by an electric fence. At this point I flipped my shit. I took off at full speed, hurdling the electric fence with height that I will admit was pretty damn impressive. At this point the coyote stood up and turned to run into the wooded area within the pasture. “Shit, shit shit shit…f&%K, f#$k, f**K” came flying out of my mouth. I ran out to the far pasture at which point I realized my flock and the goats are way smarter then they seem as that they had gathered into a tight circle.
I pulled out my phone to call my husband. Oh, did I mention that I was, once again, home alone? Read some of my other stories from the farm to see why this is so funny.
He picked up on the second ring and I proceeded, in between gasps for air,to tell him what was going on. He said I needed to gather all the animals and get them to the barn and to call Joel. I hung up and thankfully the sheep and goats followed me with no problems. Maybe it was the little talk I had about how their was a hungry beast ready to lung at their jugular and eat their entrails OR the fact that I have been giving them lots of treats lately, but they followed in a mad rush as I led them back to the bar.
After about an hour and one phone call to a coyote trapper for advice later, I finally got ahold of Joel and he came home from the winery to help try and find the coyote. Now, you all know that I don’t believe in killing animals. If it were up to me we would all coexist peacefully…as vegans. But this one is extremely aggressive and will most likely hang around since it knows their is fresh meat on the property. Not too mention, we have two cats, three dogs and four chickens and it’s our responsibility to protect them.
So, Joel proceeded to walk the property ‘looking’ for the coyote. After about thirty minutes and no sign of the coyote, I headed out to talk to Joel. As were were standing on the dirt road that passes the pasture, I looked up onto the grassy knoll and out darts the coyote, running back into the woods, before Joel could get a good look at where it went. The mangy bastard is taunting me now.
David got home about 30 minutes later and they both searched for about another thirty minutes to no avail. By this time it was nearing 6PM and we were hungry. We decided that the sheep and goats were smart and would stay in the barn. They knew that something was out there, they are very instinctual animals, and there was nothing more we could do tonight.
However, I had put a call into a neighbor who breeds and raises sheep knowing that they had had some experiences with coyotes. She told me there really isn’t a whole lot we can do. Coyotes are going to get on the property, they can dig under fence lines, and that our best bet was to get a mean llama with great protective instincts.
Sounds good to me! I told David the news and informed him that he really didn’t get a say and he simple said, “I know.”
Needless to say, neither of us slept well last night. We left the sliding glass door open so we could hear if anything happened out in the pasture. When first sight of morning drew near I leaped out of bed and put my boots on, walking with a quick gate out to the barn. Holding my breath I stepped over the electric fence and peered around the corner. No blood, no guts, no entrails, good sign. All accounted for and present and I let out a big sign.
So, today I’m going llama shopping. It’s never boring living on a farm, that’s for sure.