Matfield Green - Our first years

Monday, August 14, 2006

Coyote encounter

Yesterday morning, Sunday, Pepper and I walked west into the prairie. I never dare take that walk on a workday, since at any moment a train may stop on the sidelines barring an easy crossing back to civilization. The tracks are double for about a mile right at the bunkhouse, allowing priority trains to pass less urgent ones. When a train stops it could be for 3 minutes to let another one pass, or it could sit for over an hour, waiting for more than one priority train.

On most Sundays I don't worry about the trains, since I wouldn't mind the excuse to wander longer out on the prairie.

I was determined to finish weeding the strawberry patch before the heat of the day set in, so yesterday's was not a long walk. We went out about a mile to the hills just beyond the Rogler ponds where the view is vast and the sky is huge. On our way back we were just about to climb the fence back into our property when I spotted a coyote about 400 feet off to our right. There were four coyote pups with her - each about the size of a large house cat. Spotting us, the pups took off over the hill and out of site. But mama stood her ground, and then some. I watched as she started towards us - Pepper saw her too and to my surprise did not attempt to engage her. We watched as she started towards us just a few yards. She stopped and barked - not like a dog bark - a cross between a bark and the howling we'd heard the previous couple of evenings.

I searched my brain for any stories of humans being mauled by coyotes, found none, but was not too reassured since she was still coming our way - not directly, but definitely our way. She was headed straight north and I was walking east, but her gait was faster than mine. Pepper the chickenhearted had, meanwhile, made a beeline for the tracks, home and breakfast. I walked quickly glancing over my shoulder. For a moment mama coyote disappeared from view, but then as I crested the hill there she was behind me. Parallel and drifting just a few steps east and closer to me. She was determined to see me out of that pasture ASAP.

This morning we had another animal encounter, this time in the draw at the south end of our property near the Miller's house. A possum with five babies on her back. I was watching my step in the mud, looked up and saw Pepper sniffing at a black and while animal. My first thought was skunk, but when Pepper stepped aside the vision of the 12 eyed, 6 tailed creature made me shreek. Pepper ran toward me (to protect or for protection I do not know). Mama possum stood looking at us blocking our path for just a moment and then scrambled off into the woods.


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