A few weeks ago when I was returning home from a trip into town I encountered a coyote. I was almost home, coming up to the old ghost farm whose pastures link up to our own. I saw him as I came round the corner standing at the edge of the gravel road.
I was startled. I have never seen a coyote before. He was small in stature and I assumed he was probably an adolescent, not yet full grown. I slowed the car and expected him to run into the woods before I could get a good look at him. He stood there, his head turned toward me and his eyes connected with mine for a brief moment before he disappeared into the brush and down the hill. He looked ragged, and I have to say a little forlorn. The trees and brush along the road blocked my view of the pasture below and I wondered if there could be other members of a pack hiding below. Sonny and I have heard them howl close by a few times this year.
We have seen this particular coyote in recent days out in that same pasture, but he is always alone. The men who came out to install our propane tank a few weeks mentioned that they had seen a coyote in that same area. Our guess is that he is a young male whose family pack has pushed him away so that he will find a mate and start his own. He seems to keep inching his territory closer to our farm and last week we lost one of our Red Star hens. A few weeks before that it was one of our Rhode Island Reds.
I haven’t seen my guinea hen in the past few days either. I can only imagine that she’s gone off to sit on a nest again. Hopefully she is well hidden. Last weekend Sonny and Harold caught sight of him and tried to get a shot at him. As far as we could tell he was faster than the bullets. Two days ago, the man that cuts the hay off these fields was out baling and I heard someone shoot off about five rounds. I assume he may have brought a pistol with him. Maybe he got a hit, but if it took five shots then I would guess that the wily coyote had escaped again.
I know the coyotes have the right to live and share our space, but he is too close for comfort. He may be young, but he will grow up. If he has been the culprit in the disappearance of my chickens then he is treading on our territory, not to mention we have a toddler grandson who comes to visit and squeals like an injured animal. Nature is wild and it will defend itself…so will we.