Friday, October 21, 2016

Where the Deer and the Coyotes Play

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Fall

I met friends for dinner last night in West Plains - old teaching comrades from Mountain View whom I had not seen in more than thirty years.   After the meal and quite a bit of catching up, we drove out to the farm.  It was getting close to dark as we walked toward the barn and aviary to see the peacocks - when one of my friends noticed several small deer playing on the far side of the pond.  The frolicsome fawns added the perfect touch of rural charm to my little place in the country.

(Sadly the inside of my house, which is in a state of upheaval, was far less charming!)

I walked out to the coops to close the chickens, guineas, and duck up for the night when my friends left shortly after dark.  All of the birds had gone to their appropriate homes as darkness descended, leaving Pa Rock with the simple task of closing a couple of doors and securing them so that they would not blow open during the night..  It's a routine that gets played out every evening.

Usually the most deadly nighttime prowlers are the neighborhood dogs, but owls and raccoons can also be a problem.  Later, however, in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a new sound at The Roost.    Coyotes were yipping somewhere out in the night lands.  I stayed in bed knowing that all of the poultry was safe, but my thoughts and concerns were with the young deer.

I know that coyotes inhabit the local area, but last night was the first time I had actually heard any since leaving Arizona.  Out there even the nicest of neighborhoods can be plagued with nuisance creatures like coyotes. 

A friend of mine was living in a Phoenix suburb when she took her two dogs out for a walk one evening.  She had an older large dog on a leash and a happy little Chihuahua scampering along beside the big dog.  Suddenly a coyote ran through the group on the city sidewalk and grabbed up the Chihuahua in his fearsome jaws.  The predator eventually dropped his prize before fleeing into the neighboring hills.  He left bite marks on the Chihuahua which required the attention of a veterinarian.  (My friend decided that the coyote had abandoned her little dog when he discovered that he really didn't have a taste for Mexican food!)

Another friend was walking along the sidewalk in her very posh suburb of Phoenix when she heard something snort and brush against her leg.  The friend gazed on in shock as a rampaging javelina pushed past her!  And then there are the scorpions!

Close encounters with nature in the city can be surprising, but out here in the woods, where I live, one has to expect the occasional snake to slither across his path.  Life isn't all playful deer and meandering wild turkeys, sometimes there's a skunk in the barn, an armadillo poking holes in the yard, and mice menacing the chicken coop.   Hawks and raccoons also do their share in keeping farm creatures alert.  A small black bear has even been spotted loping around the neighborhood.

But that's nature, and it's a big part of the reason that I chose to live beyond the sprawling concrete and asphalt of the city.   Everything is entitled to a shot at survival, from playful deer, to loathsome predators, to crusty old farmers.

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