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, July 31, 2010

Luck was with us

Friday afternoon was hot, but I decided I wanted to go out to where Farm Boss was fixing a tractor and get moving the irrigation over early. He had let the sheep out into the main pasture because he would be nearby.

As I walked down the road to the barn, I saw some of the sheep come running and others standing alertly looking toward the pasture. I also saw Farm Boss at another gate and a few sheep coming running in past him. I yelled where is your gun?

Down by the barns, he yelled back.

Then I looked again at the way they were behaving and quickened my own pace, telling him to get it. I got to the barns ahead of him and could see through the doorway into the field below. What I saw hurried me even more. A coyote was over a downed lamb.  At that point I had a choice. Slow down for the gun with a possible chance of killing the coyote but giving it more time to tear at the lamb or I could scream as loud as possible and hope that the coyote would run. I chose the second and let out a primal scream as I kept running. Sarah Palin only thinks she knows about mama grizzlies!

The coyote looked at me for only a second before it turned tail and ran. By then Farm Boss was also there with the gun but the coyote had disappeared over the bank toward the creek. He and I ran out to the downed lamb. It had its head back in the dead position. Eyes open. Breathing. A scrape mark below its right eye and small bloody puncture in the throat.

Farm Boss checked it over for more injuries; but we saw unless it died of shock, it should make it.  He put his fingers over the small hole. It had not nicked an artery or vein. I stayed with it while he went out to the pasture to see if the coyote was still anywhere near. I didn't think it would be. Within a few minutes the lamb was maaing and then getting shakily to its feet.

The funny part is the sheep have no idea of it being dangerous. The rest ran out into the pasture to get fresh grass. We had to herd them back in where they clearly didn't want to go; but the idea that a predator was so close, that it nearly killed one of them, it didn't have them afraid at all beyond the immediate moment it had been there.

Although Farm Boss walked around the fence perimeters, he saw no sign of the coyote. It was long gone or hiding where we couldn't see it. It didn't much like that scream, I am guessing. Neither did I. I didn't like that it had come so close to the house, right down below the barns. Nor did I like that it had attempted its kill when Farm Boss had been so close, had been right there only 10 minutes earlier. It is a daring coyote and will be back without a doubt.

But luck was with us this time.

Photos are of the sheep after the attack but not of the wounded lamb. It's doing fine though so far.

14 comments:

robin andrea said...

That is a bit too close for comfort, isn't it? I'm always surprised when I see coyotes out hunting during the day. I don't know why I expect them to be dawn and dusk hunters, but I do. Would a good, well-trained shepherd type dog help keep the coyotes at bay?

One Woman's Journey said...

Rapid heart beat as I read this.
Hope the little one is alright.
Several neighbors have shared there are coyotes near my woods home. I have not seen any. My resued little Callie (dog) is only about 28 lbs. She wanders the woods early in the morning. Hope she stays safe.

Darlene said...

I am so glad you got there in time and were able to let out a scream. I wonder if I can scream, but I remember that I did a pretty good job of it when imitating one when I was in your truck. ;-) I think I startled you and Farm Boss. I sure startled myself.

Dick said...

Would it help for Farm Boss to carry something like a .22 cal handgun that is with him all the time? It wouldn't reach out far enough nor be accurate enough to actually hit the coyote but they are loud and just firing it into the ground might be enough to send the coyote on its way. It would be easier to have with him all the time, freeing his hands as carrying a rifle wouldn't do.

Rain said...

We do have handguns and holsters but when he's working like under the tractor, it wouldn't help. What would have helped is if he had been more aware of the sheep's signals. When they came running, he didn't stop to think why. IF he had, he would have turned and gone to the barnyard, gotten there possibly before the coyote got the lamb down and might have gotten off a good shot. He said he might've chosen differently than me if he had come there first even with the lamb down. There was time to get a shot at the coyote but not time to keep the lamb alive also. He's tougher than I am and likely would have taken the shot and let the lamb go. He said he did that once before. It is a choice and he might be right in what he would do but I wanted it to live if possible. My scream of rage scared it about as much as any gun ;)

We were out there today, both had rifles (I was also pulling weeds to the back) and had the sheep out hoping the coyote would come out of hiding. It didn't. I don't have the patience of a hunter and as I told Farm Boss, his main goal is to kill the coyote. My main goal is to keep the sheep alive. Mine might be shortsighted but so be it.

Ingineer66 said...

Wow I guess it was lucky for the lamb, lucky for you and lucky for the coyote since he got away. Scary that it would come that close to people. Only thing to do with one like that is shoot it. Have you shot the new .17 caliber varmit rifles that are out? I friend just got one for his ranch and he said it is very fun to shoot.

Rain said...

Farm Boss has a .22 magnum and likes the plastic tip bullets for more power. Heaven forbid that you just gave him another gun to buy......

Ingineer66 said...

LOL...They are supposedly similar to 22 mag but faster velocity and shoot straighter so more accurate at longer distances.

TaraDharma said...

what a story -- you and Farm Boss live close to where the action is, unlike most people. This is such a primal story - life, death, the weak and the strong. And plain dumb luck. That is life! Thanks for sharing.

Rain said...

Boy you said it well, Tara, especially the pure dumb luck part ;)

mandt said...

I realize the subject is quite serious and the threat to your flock a true danger, but I can't help but think of the movie "Babe", which I love and would hope that maybe such a dedicated friend of the wooley ones might one day grace your pastures and help out. "Bar Ram You."---it worked for Babe, in addition to a shotgun.... :)
ps. Nothing wrong with coyote slippers or mud rug.

Rain said...

I love Babe. Of course, it unfortunately hits at the reality of farm life, imaginary or not, some of these animals are raised to be eaten :( It's what I don't like about it but I console myself with giving them all the best life I can until the end comes which for some will come sooner than others.

Rain said...

I don't think a guard dog or pig would help us much. Some think lamas do but it's one more mouth to feed. Reality is fencing will be the best security and that will be difficult on the creek side where the coyote came up this time. About half our place is along that meandering creek and that makes it tough.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It's good you were able to scare of that Cayote with your fabulous "PRIMAL SCREAM"...I hate that you know he will be back--he sure was bold, wasn't he? One, ir seems, must be ever vigilant there on The Farm.