Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Autumn along the creek

By this time of the year, the creek is low. Reflections, like the one above, can make telling which side is up difficult. The creek, like the land is waiting for fall rains which have yet to come. The forests are dry and logging is shut down again as until the real rains come, fire risk is still great.

Wild blackberries are almost finished, but the last ones are sweetest. As I walked back to take photos, the ravens cawed loudly in dismay. Who are you? Get away from here! I wish I could have caught them with the camera as they are gorgeous, big black birds with huge beaks. These are not the young ones that grew up down the creek from the house, but rather their parents. When they are not flying, or in a tree looking down on me with disdain, they stalk around the pasture as though they own the place; and more than once, due to their size, I've looked through the scope to be sure they are a bird and not a coyote.

The coyotes are mostly loud at night. During the day they sneak in, hoping to not be noticed. They killed one of our smaller lambs last week; so I am out several times during the day with my .22 in hopes of shooting them before they kill another. Temporarily the sheep have lost pasture privileges (they have always been brought in at night) and are being fed extra hay and kept around the orchard, barns, and house. Even getting a shot at the coyote will help dissuade it from coming in. Killing it will do better.

I don't like shooting coyotes as they have to eat. They are beautiful, but they also will not stop killing without being forced. Killing isn't a moral issue to them but rather one of necessity. So is my shooting one if it comes into the pasture.

In nature, like it or not, might makes right. Without me around, they have might over the sheep. With me, it will depend on how good a shot I am that day and how fast the coyote can run.

This picture is the cow and her calf from this summer. Junior keeps up with mama just fine now. And good he does as he's not large enough to be safe from the coyotes either. Mama with her horns would be a good dissuader though-- as good as me with my .22.


Joy Des Jardins said...

Rain, you actually could shoot a coyote? Wow! I imagine in order to salvage your sheep it's a neccessity. I'd be afraid I'd shoot my foot...or worse yet...someone or something else.

Your pictures are wonderful. The blueberries remind me of when we use to pick them with my Grandmother in Wisconsin when I was a kid. Love the picture of the creek too. Autumn along the creek...must be beautiful.

Winston said...

We're beginning to see coyotes on the edges of highly populated areas in the towns and cities. They are mostly a nuisance, making lots of noise at night, but have killed a couple of pet dogs in the next neighborhood. The few I have seen have not been (IMHO) beautiful, but rather ugly, scruffy looking animals. Maybe Tennessee has a different variety.

Do they roam and hunt in packs or alone? Will they attack animals larger than themselves?

Rain said...

Yes, I would shoot a coyote but I would hate to do it. I would prefer they hunt off our place. In the past we have overlooked ones hunting for small rodents to the back. But after they make a kill or show too much interest in the sheep, we lose the tolerant attitude. Too much tolerance is not a virtue in raising livestock, not in a lot of things in life actually.

And I have some nice photos of coyotes, Winston but from other days-- some shot, some running in Yellowstone and other places. They are prettier when they eat well. But maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

They have killed adult ewes here which would weigh a good 100lbs., while a coyote is usually around 45 to 50-- although big ones can go as high as 60. The lamb they killed was probably 50 lbs but sheep have no way to fight back, they can only run.

Coyotes can hunt single or in packs and I see them both ways. They could take down a calf, and in bigger ranching country than we have here, they do, but I think it'd take more than one. In Tucson I have seen them generally in small packs of 2 or 3.

Mary Lou said...

They are in the alser woods behind my house, and occaisionally they come right up to the fence trying to get at Sadie. SO far they can not climb chain link fences! But I would shoot them in a minute if they are in my yard! Normally I am like you, live and let live. ANd if they eat the rats, no problem, but leave my dog, cats and squirrels alone!!

Rain said...

Yes, that's it. Live and let live until.

On that earlier statement about worrying you'd shoot someone, joy, that's a good thing to be careful with and aware. Never carry a gun with hand on the trigger until you are ready to fire, keep on safety if possible and never shoot until you can see what it is and that nothing is behind that could get hit if you miss. I could have shot a thistle and a calf last week if I had not walked farther out to be sure what I was seeing. I also watch that the road and no house is behind and will miss a shot at a coyote if there is not that security. Guns are dangerous but I got this one in the photo when I was 12 and was taught well how to use it safely.

Ingineer66 said...

Joy don't let Rains political ramblings fool you. When it comes to important stuff she is a true red blooded American that doesnt take any crap from anyone. :-)
Rain does the .22 actually kill coyotes or just scare them off? I know you said you have had it since you were little, but have you tried something with a little more punch like the .223

Rain said...

A .22 is perfectly capable of killing a coyote if you hit it in the right place. If you aren't close enough to do that, then it'd require a 30.30 but I wouldn't shoot at one unless I thought I could hit it square and several times. I am more eager to keep them off the place than kill them. Coyotes do much good, just they also kill lambs and sheep if they get the chance. The job of a shepherd is to keep them from getting that chance.