We have coyotes on our land. People have told us this, but since I’ve never seen or heard them, it hasn’t bothered me (it’s just given me a great excuse to justify the purchase of a donkey and llama – the mortal enemies of the coyote.) But now, something has happened that makes the issue of coyotes something we must discuss. We can hear them in the evening when working late at the house. The boys working on the site mentioned that the mother coyote has dropped a litter of pups across the stream from the house. Mark heard them too. Now, everyone is talking about our new family of coyotes. They sound like a litter of little puppies only 200 feet away.
I thought that rather sweet at first. But the problem with a litter of coyotes is that they grow up. Then they travel as a pack. Coyotes won’t go near our horses, thanks to Donkey, and they are very skitterish around people and will avoid them at any cost, so I don’t have to worry about my children either. (Relieved sigh). The problem is, our dogs. If the dogs chase them, they can be lured into a pack, attacked and killed. Happens often, I’m told. I suspect they will be a interfere with a healthy long life for my rooster(s) too.
The workers all shrug and say, “Ya’ll will have to shoot those wild muts soon.”
Now, my son and daughter, crazy with worry about their beloved dogs, keep saying, “They’re right, Mom .We gotta kill the coyotes.”
I say nothing. It is disconcerting to hear my children talk about killing anything (but time.)
Ronnie, our builder, is a terrific guy, funny, easy-going, but very, very country. Born and bred in Blue Ridge. Never been on a plane. Only finished 5th grade (and yet he is one of the smartest people I know) a God fear’in preacher on the weekends, works hard with his dutiful sons building quality houses . . . and full of the best country slang ya ever heard. He is a real live country character, the kind you gotta love. He has a subtle way about him- and he likes to make fun of me in such a subdued way, I can’t help but believe talking to a city girl like me is a highly amusing pass time for him.
He said, “Ya’ll gotta get rid of those Coyotes, ya know.”
I said, “And how do you suppose we should do that? Shall I call the humane society?”
He grins. “I don’t reckon they would be much help.” Then he lifts a finger and makes a subtle shooting motion.
I shake my head and say, “But we don’t own a gun.”
He looks at Mark. “Living here, you’re gonna need one. Mark knows.”
Ah, so they’ve already had this conversation.
I cross my arms and say, “And so we are supposed to sit on our porch and pick those little baby pups off like a shooting gallery?”
Ronnie shakes his head and says, “Unfortunately, they’s sneaky. My boys and I have never actually clipped one, ’cause they hear ya, or see a motion, and they take off fast as can be. But maybe you can scare them away.”
This, I can handle.
So, the issue of our buying a gun is on the table again. Mark insists we can’t live out in the woods without one. He points out that we have black bears in the area (and now Coyotes) and even an intruder might be a real threat considering there are no neighbors within shouting distance. He feels it is more important to protect the family than stick by some no -violence (to nature or man) creed. I do understand his point. He assures me the weapon will be kept locked and secure – and we are not talking about a handgun. Just a riffle. (Be still my heart). I insist we go to a shooting range, take a lesson or two and learn to use it properly. Mark says Ronnie can probably teach him out back in an hour. Yea – I like that idea, honey. Go shooting into the woods right by the house and see what you hit. Um. NO! (Might damage a blackberry or two, and we can’t have that)
So, I will have to take a break from my internet research on blackberries and canning to look up guns. Shoot me (eek – I didn’t mean that literally.)
But in all honesty, safety is an issue that we must consider with this dramatic life change. As it is, yesterday I told Mark I thought it was really important that he teach me to drive the tractor.
He narrowed his eyes and in a real suspicious voice said, “Why?”
Ha. Does he think I’m gonna go play with his new toy when he isn’t looking? Hell, I don’t want to learn how to run the thing – God-forbid, he might expect me to go out and bush hog a few acres for him if I actually can.
The fact is, I have horrible visions of a tree falling on him and me standing there, helpless, watching him be crushed while the tractor is two feet away. Meanwhile, I’m this incompetent gal who doesn’t know how to do anything but cook and dance, and as such, I’m no help at all in an emergency. I imagine Mark bleeding and groaning, trying to explain to me what all those levers are, as the life-force drains out of him. Then, I imagine myself frantically trying to guestimate what to do, pushing the wrong button and squashing him totally. (Ha, not that I have a dramatic imagination or anything.)
I figured he’d laugh at me if I filled him in on my gory concerns, so I just told him I thought I should learn how to run it in case the wind blows a tree down across the road while he is gone. I wouldn’t want to be trapped at the house. He said that made sense, so he would teach me the basics.
I have always said I wanted to retire in the mountains – live in a place where nature and solitude come together to enrich the soul. But if someone told me three years ago that I would be stretching my experience envelope to include tractor maneuvering, rifle handling and canning, well, I’d laugh myself off the chair. Not that I’m complaining. Actually, it just goes to show that life can be a great adventure if you are open to it.
I must get back to work. Who knows, after we move, I might be distracted by late night howling and that will no doubt interfere with my creative juices. . . (Deep down, I hope there will be howling. The way I look at it, the coyotes were there first.)
Neva with our grand protector . . .