Sunday, December 14, 2008

coyote considerations

I shot out of bed this morning to a sound I haven't heard since last winter in Idaho. It was that loud cackle yip of a pack of coyotes. They were close.

Now, had I heard this in Idaho, I would've smiled, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I like these wild sounds, and I like that they're here trotting through the leafless woods, tounges lolling as they pad uphill. But back in Idaho I had nothing the yotes could hurt. The hens were locked up and literaly right outside my bedroom window in a pen up against my siding. They were safe as houses. But here there are sheep vulnerably far from the abode, and my birds' coop was no match for a clever coyote that really wanted to break in. I had to go check it out.

So in the moonlight, not sure what time it was exactly (maybe 5AM?). I went into full wardobe. Parka, boots, wool scarf and hat. Jazz and Annie watched me confused and tired from the bedroom. The coyotes were still carrying on. I grabbed my shepherd's crook and lantern and walked out into the night to the sound of the feral chorus.

Three years ago I graduated from design school, moved to a city to work for a television network, and spent Sunday mornings watching TV and eating sugared cereal out of a salad bowl. The night before I would've been out to the movies, or had sushi at Nama downtown or Indian food with Leif on the strip. I woud still be high from the galleries I saw on First Fridays, and all revved up to design some new posters for bands that didn't ask me for them...But last night I spent a few hours playing bluegrass and old time tunes with some friends in Cambridge next to a woodstove, and I woke up before first light to the braying of wild dogs ready to rip the throats of animals I have become surprisingly protective of.

Oh, how things have changed.

I stood outside between the coop and sheep pen, staring into the woods as the coyotes got louder. It was cold. Even with my layers of gear on, I was cold. I stood there for maybe half an hour, looking through the birches and sugar maples uphill around the hollow. I then stupidly realized the coyotes could be anywhere, and it was these echoing chasms all around the farm that were fooling me into thinking they were north of us. But I trusted the sheep, who were all looking the same way I was.

I banged the crook against the metal roof of the coop, and yelled to the yotes to go away. I turned on the heating lamps for the birds, making it clear human activity was going on. The sheep, like kids watching a car wreck behind a schoolyard fence, were lined up and tense. I decided to stay up with them till the coyotes took off. It seemed like the right thing to do. It's what I'd want if I were a sheep.

And so I stayed outside. I hauled hay and grain, refilled water, chucked three frozen eggs I forgot to collect in time into the compost bin (they were cracked open, useless) and went about all the morning chores till the sounds of howls and yips were replaced by roosters crowing to welcome the blue sunrise that us Vermonter's see in December. When all was safe and sound, I went back into the house to start some loaves of bread and tend to the dogs. No animals at Cold Antler would be coyote doo doo tonight. With that happy I thought, I went inside to bake.

I do miss the city sometimes. Who wouldn't? Specially when you can't feel your fingers as monsters scream at you from the abyss. But I'm here, and falling in love with the whole thing. I'll trade woodstove-bluegrass and the occasional monsters for car alarms, tv, and sugar ceral anyday. Hell, I'll learn to make my own sushi and rava idli.

I'll play it by ear. It's what I'm best at. I think that'll do.

15 Comments:

Blogger Mama Pea said...

We are so fortunate that some of us are still lucky enough to experience (as you did this morning) little snippets of nature which are still entact and haven't been destroyed by man in his push for "progress." How much more beneficial to our souls is being roused by the coyotes talking than, say, being awakened by a car alarm going off!

Have a wonderful day. Is the bread out of the oven yet?

December 14, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wereroosters & coyotes - what a weekend you've had.

Your book was delivered on Friday - really enjoyed reading it.

Got Clawhammer book from Native Ground that you recommended earlier and am now on the lookout for a Banjo. Any suggestions?

Joyce

December 14, 2008 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

mama pea~!

thank you and the bread is at it's second rise on the stove. I'm going to call the boys from last night and see if they'll come over for a farm brunch as a thanks for the music.

Joyce, go to banjohut.com they have openback banjos (what you should play with clawhammer style) in packages already to play with gig bags, straps, tuners, the works starting around 180 bucks. Or check ebay or craigslist. But stick with 5 string, open backed, and have fun!!

December 14, 2008 at 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feed surplus eggs (raw) to our dog. Would Jazz & Annie eat them? That way the eggs wouldn't be attracting predators (coyotes, ravens) to your compost.
EJ

December 14, 2008 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

they were frozen solid, cracked open, and some feces had seeped in. If they were salvage I'd let the dogs have them once they thawed in the fridge, but these were goners. I know, I hate, hate, wasting food.

December 14, 2008 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Lynn B said...

Jenna,
I just received your book ordered months ago from Amazon yesterday and finished it this morning. Wonderful! I'm going to try the homemade pasta recipe tonight. I,like you, have changed my way of life from city girl to chicken/sheep/goat/flower farmer and couldn't be happier. I've started writing about my experiences - they are quite humorous. My family has encouraged me after reading my emails "Chronicles from the Farm" to start a book. I want to encourage others to venture out and try new things like I have. Vermiculturing is one of my favorites - I have 8000 worms in my basement. However, I seem stuck in the writing process. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Lynn, Fern Valley Farm, in beautiful southwestern Virginia

December 15, 2008 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna,
I just received your book yesterday from Amazon after ordering it months ago. Wonderful! I'm planning on trying your homemade pasta recipe tonight. I, like you, have gone from city girl to sheep/goat/chicken/flower farmer and love it. My family after reading my emails of "Chronicles from the farm have encouraged me to write a book about the hilarious adventures I've been on since being here. It's a regular Green Acres situation. But, I seem to be stuck in the writing department. Any suggestions?
By the way, here's something new to try that I just LOVE. Vermiculture - or just plain ole worm farming. I now have over 8000 worms in my basement that will soon provide me with organic fertilizer for my 18,000 sq ft. garden - yes, I can relate to your gardening chapter. 1000 worms to 8000 in only a few short months and the only challenge is coming up with enough scraps to feed them.

Thanks,
Lynn B. Fern Valley Farm in beautiful southwestern Virginia

December 15, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Lynn at Fern Valley Farm said...

Jenna,
I just received your book yesterday and finished reading it today - Wonderful! I plan on making the homemade pasta recipe tonight! I, too, am a converted city girl to sheep/goat/chicken/flower farmer. My relatives have convinced me to write a book about the hilarious adventures in the past year but I'm stuck. Any suggestions for a future author?
Thanks,
Lynn B, Fern Valley Farm in beautiful southwestern Va.

December 15, 2008 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Lynn at Fern Valley Farm said...

Ok, and I obviously don't know how to use this computer. Sorry for the triple comments....

Lynn

December 15, 2008 at 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Sean said...

From wereroosters to mini-wolves in just a few nights time. Even hollywood should be impressed, if not envious.

December 15, 2008 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Juri said...

I just found you blog and wanted to leave a note to let you know I have enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee reading some of your posts...loving every minute of it! Great blog!!!

Juri

December 15, 2008 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Juri said...

I just found you blog and wanted to leave a note to let you know I have enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee reading some of your posts...loving every minute of it! Great blog!!!

Juri

December 15, 2008 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have an exciting life! My son just moved to the country. He has huge racoons visiting his back porch and eating the cat food. A better way to experience life is the country.

December 15, 2008 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has happened to the cool link Stitch-n-Sew? I keep checking back and find nothing new. If you know this person, please encourage them to continue this sight. I am very interested in it. Thanks!

I love your sight, too. It is the first one I check each day. So fun to be able to experience country living through it. Keep up the good work.

December 15, 2008 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...

Following up on the frozen, slightly poopy eggs . . . trust me, Jazz and Annie will find the additional brown/green/white "protein" a treat.

Our two dogs get a whole egg (non-human-usable due to being cracked or extra dirty or whatever) every morning. I drop it into their dish(es) so that it cracks open, then put their dry food on top. Everything gets eaten, shell and all.

Try it - yours will like it! (And - voila! - less waste!)

December 19, 2008 at 10:28 AM  

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