Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘coyotes

New Data

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Upon further review, judges have amended the egg count total for Tuesday. Yesterday, I reported that Cyndie found six eggs. Last night she updated the count.

Turns out, Jackie had collected 2 eggs herself that day. The total has increased to 8!

So, there.

With all the news frantically shouting about the hurricane bearing down on the US east coast, those of us in the middle of the continent are enjoying very summer-like conditions. My drive home yesterday brought me through fields that are changing from the deep green of summer to hues of yellow and gold.

Navigating my way around the house in the mornings before work has returned to the dark ages, and the hour of closing the chicken coop at night has moved up to around 7:30 p.m., about an hour and a half earlier than just a short while ago.

Last night, a pack of coyotes whooped it up somewhere within hearing distance of our windows. It sounded very similar to the group yelping we heard the first year we moved here, after which we discovered the carcass of the 8-point buck in our woods.

The change of seasons makes life feel more adventurous. It’s adventure that I greatly prefer, compared to an ominous threat of once-in-a-lifetime, climate-change-amplified hurricanes looming large.

Counting my blessings while I have the luxury, and sending love to those facing the challenges of preparations for evacuations, wind damage, and flooding.

Hold on to your hats.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

Getting Started

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Preparations are underway for our trip with Cyndie’s family to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been enjoying creating the early posts in the series I have planned to explore events that led up to this latest adventure, starting way back with the first time I met Cyndie.

To give myself more time for planning and packing, I have decided to begin the series tomorrow. I hope you enjoy my trips down memory lane.

I will take advantage of the early break from daily posting to finish making lists and actually start packing.

Sounds like we will be getting away at a good time, as temperatures are expected to drop precipitously in the days ahead. I’m hoping that it won’t snow enough to require plowing until after we return, but it’s okay with me if the cold snap happens while I’m gone.

There was a little extra excitement around the ranch yesterday as the neighbor on our southwest corner reported he was going to be hunting coyotes and might cross our property.

Early in the morning, Cyndie came upon some lone tracks in the snow that just might have been those of a coyote scout venturing out on its own overnight.

If our neighbor is worried about his cows, I wonder if we should be concerned for our surviving three chickens.

We are really hoping the young woman who has agreed to take care of our animals while we are away won’t have any difficult problems to manage.

It’s just seven days. One week. Is that too much to wish for? An entire week at Christmastime of calm and quiet?

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I need to go find my battery charger for the camera. When we get back, I’m going to want to post lots of pictures of the tropical beach, palm trees, sun, and surf.

I hope you’ll be entertained by the stories I have scheduled to post while we are gone.

I intend to return to live, daily posting by the end of the month.

Bon voyage!

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Written by johnwhays

December 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Threatening

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coyotes called last night again
whooping siren-like howls
echoes from the dark
adding excitement
to the trip down the driveway
rolling the trash
and recycling
to the shoulder of the road
with Delilah in tow
in hopes to dissuade
any roving marauders
whose curiosity might bring near
with our vision confined
to the cone of light
that juts from our foreheads
like miners in a cave
our cave with no ceiling
just dark to the stars
and fog of the evening
the ground wet but not snowy
air temp above freezing
rattling trees with no leaves
now just skeletons of their former selves
creating a haunting feeling
befitting the season
of goblins and spooks
that show up in our heads
where the most threatening reside
not possibly real
ones we make up, instead

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2015 at 6:00 am

Gruesome Find

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Eventually, all the clues began to make sense. Not a day goes by that Delilah doesn’t find something outside our windows that drives her into a barking frenzy. Nine times out of ten, it is beyond me to identify what has triggered her reaction. If it’s squirrels, they are long gone by the time I arrive. If it is gunshots or thunder, she hears it long before I am able.

Yesterday, Delilah began to go nuts with the barking. Attempts to distract and calm her seemed futile. Minutes later, Elysa and Anne stepped in the door announcing their arrival for a visit. Was Delilah barking at them? I was willing to believe it.

As the afternoon wore on, we headed outside to spend some time with the horses. We found them uncharacteristically jumpy. I tried several times to brush the remaining snow off their backs, but not one of them stood still long enough for me to finish. The wind was gusting a bit, so we thought maybe that was making them uneasy. It gave us an excuse to move on toward the pasture to toss discs for Delilah to chase.

Out in the open, the wind was cold enough to drive us onward so we headed for the trail in the woods. I had already traveled this trail earlier in the day with Delilah when we did our usual morning patrol after feeding the horses. We had enough snow overnight to just cover the ground, so it was easy to spot recent tracks along the trail. There were very few at that earlier hour.

As the four of us walked along with Delilah, it was easy to spot something laying on the trail up ahead. My first thought was that the wind had knocked down a tree branch, but what my eye was seeing looked larger than a typical fallen branch.

Yep. Not a branch.

It was the largest limb from a carcass that I had ever come upon. My guess: it was the leg of a cow and coyotes were likely to blame. Why one or more of them had dropped this leg in the middle of our trail is a mystery to me. Of course, it was a prize beyond Delilah’s wildest dream. It was too much for her to carry, so I picked up the frozen leg and carried it for her.

She didn’t know what to do. Walk in front of me? Walk behind me? Jump up and bite it while I walked? We made our way back to the house where I left it on the ground for her to gnaw on. She instantly morphed into one of the pack.

DSCN2793eBased on the size of this limb, I’m expecting to see the local coyote hunters busy at work around here in the near future. Farmers aren’t very patient when their livestock are being culled by predators. For those with sensitivities about such images, I am including this shot as a thumbnail to give readers an option of viewing it or not. Click per your personal tolerance for the gruesome, but natural, cycle of life involving wild carnivorous animals.

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Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Doggone Excitement

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Sunday was a refreshing day of warmth and sunshine, which melted enough snow to bring us almost back to where things were before last week’s storm. As I expected, much of my day yesterday involved shoveling channels in the muddy ground to facilitate drainage of the melt water. Luckily, we got help from Elysa and her friend, Anne, who stopped by for a dose of country sun and to commune with all our animals.20140406_163814

Anne captured this beautiful picture of Legacy and Cayenne giving Elysa some love for her efforts.

In the morning, while Cyndie and I were working in the paddock, we spotted a local coyote hunter’s truck that had stopped on our road. Then I heard the baying sound of his hunting dogs and quickly became concerned about where Delilah was. We discovered her a little ways out in one of our fields, oblivious to the world as she buried her nose in the ground in pursuit of some enticing scent. We called her back to our vicinity.

A short while after that, the sound of the hunting dogs erupted again, this time closer, from the woods beyond our house. Delilah took off after the sound, despite my calls for her to stay. Uneasy about what the hunting dogs might do to the sudden appearance of our dog, I dropped my shovel and hustled after her. Before I got very far, I heard the hunter’s truck coming up behind me in our driveway.

He has been up to our house a couple other times, to ask permission to track coyotes across our property, so I was familiar with him. He assured me that Delilah was not at any risk from his dogs. Just then, she came sprinting back, now interested in this stranger standing with me. We visited briefly and then he checked his electronic tracker and found his pack of hounds had moved on, so he headed off down the road after them.

You’d think by this point we might have considered putting Delilah on a leash, but we went on about our activity as if that whole hunting dog concern was over. That’s not the way tracking necessarily works. After enough time passed to lull me into forgetting about it, I happened to glance up and spot an animal running along our southern property border. Initially, I wondered if it might be a coyote on the run from the pursuit, but it became clear it was one of the hunting dogs. By the time I located Delilah, it was obvious that she had seen it, too, and was already on the opposite side of that same field.

Despite both Cyndie’s and my protests, Delilah excitedly ran down to check on the new dogs visiting her turf. True to the hunter’s word, there were no threatening gestures from his pack, as the number of arriving dogs increased. What did end up happening was plenty of barking and eventually, confusion. With Delilah anxiously, but cautiously, trying to engage all these strange dogs, the pack seemed to lose track of their primary mission, and decided to focus all their attention on her. Delilah decided to retreat back toward us.

Soon there were hounds around and in the paddocks and a fair amount of chaos as Cyndie and I hollered, waffling between trying to collar our dog or the hunting dog that was now in proximity of our horses. In a flash the hunter’s truck was rushing up our driveway, and he apologized three different times as he hoisted each of his dogs up into their compartments on the back of his truck.

Happily, there were no problems that occurred from the close encounter between our dog and the hunting dogs. In fact, it turned out to be a great opportunity to increase awareness of Delilah to our surrounding community. The hunter happens to be a cousin of our neighbor whose property abuts ours on two sides. He approved of the orange vest we make her wear outside. He said he noticed her out in the field right away the first time he pulled over, and would make sure his cousin knows about her now, too.

I appreciate that, because we’ve been meaning to introduce her since we brought her home last July, and just never got around to making it happen.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

Futile Search

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I came up empty this morning. Not for lack of trying. I trudged our woods and beyond, into the neighbor’s section of forest adjacent to us. I found no obvious evidence that revealed what all the coyotes were howling about last night.

Just about the time we were turning in for the night, the racket of coyotes in a tizzy, which we are now familiar with, after our initial exposure last October, filled the darkness from down the hill below our house. I cracked the window to better hear the chorus, and Pequenita leaped to the window sill to join me, her interest piqued.

IMG_2057eGrabbing the spotlight that we now keep handy in our bedroom, I scanned the distance. It didn’t do much. Since the land drops away so quickly, the only view I get is of the open space near the house, across the top of the hill. I am including a daytime shot of the area we are able to see from the bedroom window.

From the sound of things, and from the fact the howling continued on and off for some time, we expected the coyotes had captured a meal.

My search this morning was for tracks that might lead to the remains of their prize. Last fall I hadn’t put two and two together to realize that what we had heard might mean there would be a carcass. It was mere coincidence that I was exploring our woods, days later, bushwhacking off trail, and came upon the fresh skeleton of the 8-point buck.

That was before there was any snow cover, and the scene hardly stood out at all. This time, I figured such a kill would be much easier to spot, since there is still so much snow on the ground. What I discovered was that the woods still obscure the sight-lines quite a bit, and it wasn’t easy to positively identify which tracks were fresh from the night before.

The coyote tracks I did find seemed meandering, certainly not racing after prey. I was also looking for evidence of more than one set of paws, because we definitely heard more than one animal yipping. There are plenty of tracks from rabbits, squirrels, deer, and one very definite and obvious trail of a single turkey. None of them looked to be on the run. Eventually I did come upon a pair of coyote tracks, side by side.

Maybe there wasn’t a chase. It could have been a surprise attack from a stealthy hunter. Whatever it was, I didn’t find the results. They were heard and not seen.

There remains the outside chance that it wasn’t a new kill at all. During my trek, I wandered past the spot of that kill from last fall. Enough snow has receded to expose the old carcass, and the legs and hooves that were left as undesirable last fall, had been pulled up and freshly gnawed.

It is quite possible that the reason my search was futile is because there was no fresh kill. Maybe they were just excited to have found the remains of that old kill. But, I’ll be keeping an eye out for a new carcass, because I’m not quite convinced.

Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2013 at 10:04 am

Posted in Wintervale Ranch

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