What a great month March has been. These past few days have been especially lovely and I’ve tried to be outside as much as possible. I never tire of observing the renewal of the earth each spring, and it’s just plain fun to spend time outdoors without wearing a heavy coat. My sons and daughter have been playing touch football, racing one another around our driveway and just generally enjoying the outdoors.
During the past few days I’ve seen many flocks of geese flying north. Several flocks of swans also have been enjoying swimming in our fields and foraging in the corn stubble left from last fall’s harvest. So far, the coyotes haven’t scared them away and I’m crossing my fingers that the varmints will continue to leave them alone and the swans will stick around for awhile.
Another sign of spring are the tulips in front of our house. They already are several inches high and at the rate they’re growing will be out long before early May when they usually start blooming.
The warm weather has me thinking about planting the garden. The only problem is that I lost my seed order and recycled my Jung catalog. I’ve been hoping that the company would send me another, but it’s getting late to order seeds, so I may have to go online and request a catalog. If I get busy and send in the order, this may be the year we can get our radishes in early and harvest some that aren’t hot and woody.
It’s a rite of spring at our farm to have visiits from swans. The fields that surround our farmstead usually have ponds on them and the swans stop for a few days or even weeks, depending on the amount of water and food available.
I enjoy not only watching the swans, but also listening to them. They are particularly noisy at night and early in the morning. Last night the sound of the swans was competing with the howl of coyotes. The coyotes were pretty quiet and didn’t come around much during the winter, but now that spring is here, they’re more mobile — and noisy. I was hoping last night that they weren’t bothering the swans because I would like to have the beautiful, big, white birds stay around for awhile.
This morning there was no sign of either the swans or the coyotes. Maybe the swans will return tonight. I hope the coyotes don’t.
During the past few years the number of coyotes living in our area has grown and the animals have moved closer to our farmstead. My general philosophy with wild animals is live and let live, unless they do something that threatens me, a family member or one of our pets.
During the past year, the coyotes have crossed the line. The first time was about a year ago when one attacked Maggie, one of our dogs, when she was on an evening run with my husband. He scared the coyote off by throwing stones and yelling at it, but it was a frigthening experience for both Maggie and my husband. They were on a gravel road without protection and pretty much at the mercy of the coyotes. After that, my husband made sure that he didn’t take the dogs with him when he ran at twilight or after dark.
But the past couple of weeks the coyotes have been seeking out our dogs. One has come up to the edge of the corn field that borders our farmstead and barked, trying to lure our dogs into the field. From our research, the coyote does that so the dogs will follow them. Once they follow, the single coyote, they’re often met by a pack which kill the dogs who become coyote dinner.
At about 6:30 this morning I was sure Maggie and Minnie were goners when they heard a coyote bark when I was feeding the horses and ran into the corn field after them. I ran to the edge of the field and called for about 15 minutes trying to make myself heard above the coyote howls. I finally gave up, giving up, figuring there was nothing more I could do. I was walking back to the road trying to figure out how to tell our children the dogs had been killed when I saw Minnie a few hundred yards ahead of me, standing on the road that runs parallel to the corn field. I ran to the road, hoping that Maggie woud be there, too. I was glad to see her galloping toward me from the east.
I don’t know if the dogs ignored the coyotes once they got in the field or if the coyotes figured that the Labs, which weigh about 70 pounds, were too big to take on. Whatever the reason, I was relieved Maggie and Minnie were alive and will take them outside on their leashes until we can remedy the coyote problem. I don’t like killing animals, but in this case I consider it self-defense for our pets. I don’t hunt, but I know plenty of people who do and, hopefully, one of them can reduce the numbers around us.