Spirited Coyote by Gretchen Grunt
This morning just before the sun peeked over the Eastern rise I was laying in bed listening to the birds start to wake up and begin to sing their morning songs. In those early moments of solitude listening to the birds working towards a crescendo, I suddenly heard a different song, the song of the coyote.
We have a coyotes who live and travel behind our place. I have seen tracks and other evidence of their presence, but seldom hear them and have only once seen them.
This morning their song bounced all around, echoing off the gentle rolling hills and deep valleys behind our home. It made them sound like they were all around. As I lay there listening, I wondered what does a coyote karaoke party look like. Do they all lift their heads and sing at once in three-part harmony? Or is it some kind of “smack down,” where when one stops another picks up trying to top the last coyote? There are cow-calf pairs in the rangeland behind us. Had they just found dinner and the song was that of their celebration and calling the rest of their family in for a feast?
Hours later as I reflect on this, I am still not sure what kind of song was being sung. The song of the coyote always feels to me a sort of eerie sort of tune. I liken it to listening to the opera, enjoying that which your ear hears but not sure if you should be enjoying it all. Are they singing about something joyous or do those words tell a sad tale that would bring a tear to your eye? Only the family of coyotes know the answer to this question.
Look closely my chickens are out in the pasture.
Recently I wrote about not being happy with a white chicken. If I kept my chickens confined then this would not be an issue. Lucky for my chickens I let them free range. Free range is a natural method of raising chickens. It allows them time to range out in nature, eating bugs, slugs, seeds, grasses as they naturally would. Free range chickens produce eggs that with yellower yolks, have a creamier taste, and are naturally higher in Omega-3! Unfortunately running around free range also has some serious risks. Predators love chickens. Predators can be what you all think of, foxes and coyotes. There can be some not so common predators from the air hawks or an occasional eagle. It can also be the neighbor’s dog. When a pet kills or maims your livestock this can create some serious conflict. Everyone in this picture has some responsibility. As a chicken keeper I have an obligation to reduce the risk of running in to predators, by picking chickens who blend in with my landscape. I also reduce the likelihood they will meet a predator by keeping them in the chicken run until the sun is up and confining them as the sun starts to set. I have lost one to a hawk. I have added some more cover for them after that loss. I have had to called the neighbor two pastures over when her dogs decided to do a long-distance adventure and came pouncing into my chicken run. Occasionally I have found the chickens further from home than I would like. When that happens I haze them and then reward then with food treats when they come home. Those birds are my responsibilities. It isn’t a perfect science. but it works well enough for me.
Now you know why a white chicken wasn’t my first choice. One look at my photo of my pasture this spring with my existing flock tells you she would have a bull’s eye on her. I suspect I will have to make some adjustments to how I manage my flock for her safety when she grows up.