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Posts Tagged ‘coyotes’

Last Saturday, Hubby went out to do chores, and found our buck laying dead in the barn.  Just…dead.  There was no sign of illness or injury; no blood, pus, mucous, cud, diarrhea, lumps, bumps, bruises…nothing.  He was found laying on his side in the straw, but there was no sign that he’d had convulsions or anything.  No indication at all of what might have happened.  The buck was a little on the skinny side, but had been eating and drinking normally as of the night before, perky and being a nuisance when the boys were being fed.

 

I immediately called our breeder to ask if he had any ideas.  He asked us about our worming program.  I had postponed worming, because I picked up the dewormer after the does had been bred; the directions on the package indicated it wasn’t to be used in pregnant cattle (there are never instructions for goats, alas), and I couldn’t find any information about whether or not it might be safe in goats.  He also asked about supplementation.  We give a bit of fortified goat ration, and a blue cobalt salt block, but the breeder informed me that this probably isn’t sufficient – our area is deficient in selenium, and the goats probably also need more copper and maybe calcium than the ration would contain.  Between those things and the extreme cold (it was -35 that night), the breeder indicated he might have just died due to poor condition.  Of course, he could be fine on all counts and just have dropped dead of a heart attack or aneurysm, too, and there’s no way to know for sure, short of a post-mortem, which I’m not willing to pay for at this point – we’ll need that money to buy a new buck.

 

I have this nagging feeling like we might have killed our awesome boy through ignorance and neglect, though, and we’re both pretty cut up about it.   He was such a docile and friendly buck, and we’re breeding for attitude, so he was perfect in that regard.  He’d really become a pet, as we knew we planned to keep him more or less forever.   We’d gotten completely attached.

 

On Saturday, I finally sucked it up and tried eating goat cheese.  With Baby M having such a violent and extended allergic reaction when I eat any cow products, I had been too chicken to try any alternatives.  I have been working up my courage since before Christmas.  So I made up a pizza on a gluten-free crust with home-made goat ricotta, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, and peppers.  It was absolutely divine, after six months without a bite of cheese.

 

Baby M did not react at all.  I would have been dancing a happy dance if not for the black cloud hanging over our heads with the loss of the buck.

 

I’ve been finding a way to work cheese into pretty much every meal since…

 

Tuesday, while I was out doing chores in the girls’ yard, I got this creepy feeling like I was being watched.  I glanced around at the girls, who should have all had their heads in their grain buckets; the three older does were all looking to the north, ignoring their grain entirely.  I looked around, too, and didn’t see anything…until it moved.  A huge coyote, slinking out of a derelict building that is not at all far from the girls’ pen.   I’m certain it was a coyote and not a wolf, but it was a seriously large coyote.  And bold!  It sat down in front of the building and just watched us.  I charged that general direction, yelling and flapping my arms; the coyote moved a few steps and sat down again.  I grabbed a chunk of snow and threw it…if my aim had been better, I might have had better effect – but the coyote just moved a few more steps before sitting down again.   Eventually, it wandered off, but the girls and I were all spooked.

 

After chores, I got the dogs, and went exploring around the area.  The coyote had been into the compost pile; Hubby knew something had been digging in there, but had blamed Poppy, or thought maybe it was a skunk.  There were pretty well-established trails in and out of the bush, suggesting this critter has been hanging around for a while.  I am not sure what our next course of action should be.  We could try to trap or shoot the coyote, but I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle.  There are still all the foxes, plus plenty of other coyotes, waiting to take this one’s place.  I am not so worried about the goats, especially since they go in the barn at night, but the cats are at risk, and the chickens are pretty vulnerable.  The snow has effectively reduced my five foot fences to about three feet – even the non-drifted areas are up well past my knees, and the snow around the goat and chicken yards is packed fairly solidly from us and the critters walking on it.  My biggest worry is when the goat kids come.  The goat yard is easily approached from the bush, and a kid would be pretty tempting for a hungry coyote.  I haven’t seen the coyote since that day, but we know it’s still hanging around.

 

There has been so much piling up that it’s almost hard to tackle writing a blog post about it.  However, in short, it’s been a rollercoaster of a week – we’ve been down (way down) about the loss of our buck, up about the possibility of me being able to eat cheese again, and worried about that stupid coyote.  Bleh.  I’d rather things were boring…

 

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I woke up in the middle of the night again last night (this has been an on and off running theme for months), as my back was sore enough that I could not sleep.  I got up, went to the bathroom, looked out the window (clear, lots of stars, sliver of a moon rising over the northeast shelter belt), and took an ibuprofen.  I farted around on the computer for an hour, waiting for the painkillers to kick in, then headed back to bed.

 

Unfortunately, I bumped Hubby’s feet on the way, as they were hanging off the end of the bed and into the narrow corridor between bed and dresser, that I had to navigate in the dark to get to my own side.  “Huh?  What time is it?”  He grunted as he woke.

 

“About 4:30”.

 

I crawled into bed and tried to get comfortable.   I don’t think I had been laying there for more than a few minutes when there was this piercing shriek-y howl off in the distance.  Not coyote – we hear coyote most nights, and it sounds nothing like that.  Then, more shrieking, cackling voices joined the howl, getting closer and closer to the house.  Some sounded like they might be in the forest behind the house, even.  It was one of the creepiest noises I have ever heard, only slightly less hair-raising than a cougar cry.

 

“Can you hear that?” I asked Hubby, “Sure is freaky…”

 

“Werewolves.” He replied.

 

“Can’t be, the moon’s not full.  Sounds like harpies to me”.

 

“Too low – harpies fly”.

 

We debated for a minute about where we might have left the silver bullets, but the cacophony dropped off, back to one freaky voice in the distance, then died altogether.

 

I had some weird dreams after that.

 

Sure wish I knew what creatures had really made that noise…

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We met most of our human neighbours in the first couple of weeks here, but our non-human neighbours are just now starting to put in an appearance.

The other morning, we saw a cow moose picking her way across the field out our front window.

The squirrels have been scolding us for quite some time, now.

The coyotes yip as many nights as not.

We’ve seen tons of birds, also – juncos, robins, crows (nesting in our spruce trees, we think), sparrows, and plenty of red-tailed hawks, as well as one I thought just might be a juvenile bald eagle.

We’ve now sighted two different rabbits, as well, grazing on the grass at the verge of the drive, right outside our kitchen window.  They are quite bold, and although they take off into the bush when we open the door or get too close, they hop back out again as soon as we are safely out of sight (or in the house).

Hubby managed to get a few pics of some of the new neighbours:

We know these critters are going to wreak havoc on the fruit trees and gardens, but we probably won’t do much about them for now, except maybe to fence a few things off, and perhaps plant extra in the garden.   It totally ruins our “farmer cred”, but then again, they were here first…

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