Into the Wild

What a beautiful week we've had on farm this week.  Consistent afternoon showers make the hot, intolerable mornings lull into misty rain forest evenings.  Beautiful butterflies dance their delicate ballets across our zinnias and promote the beneficial pollination of all our gently growing vegetables and fruits.  Tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes are filling our market tables and tummies.  Summer is in full swing and we finally have melons!

Our animals are all surviving the heat with positive attitudes, though midday they should be pardoned for their lack of cheerfulness.  We are going to be welcoming four new sheep to the farm this Sunday and we're preparing everyone's good manners before their arrival.  Everyone seems to be maturing very well, everyone except Giles our Billy Goat.  He has been living in Bachelor paradise with his Ram friend, Valiant and yet his longing for companionship seems to exceed Valiant's desire to be his pal.  Giles is constantly following us around, bothering Valiant, begging to be loved and appears to desperately want a like minded friend in his pen.  Unfortunately for him Valiant is a stud and Sunday only brings more sheep, more animals that will not understand his awkward dancing or goofy, feminine voice.

But the most powerful moment on the farm this week stemmed from a creature much more wild in nature.  My two dogs have become completely obsessed with going to the river to swim.  Neither of them being avid swimmers before, their bodies are slowly picking up the techniques that keep them afloat.  They may not be graceful, but nothing feels better on a Georgia afternoon than some skinny dipping at the river!  Sometimes when the urge to swim is too great to handle, they take off when released from the house and I have to chase them down all the way by the water side and bring them back.

On one such occasion this week, I began the long walk up the hill to the trail that leads to the water, cursing and contemplating what I could cook that requires the ingredient, dog meat.  I came to the trail and a cool, quiet dark took over my vision as I entered the treeline.  My eyes took several seconds to adjust and as if it appeared right before my eyes, a female Coyote was standing in the path facing me.  I stopped.  I stared.  She stared.

She raised her head up and then down, sniffing the air and ground,  examining my intentions.  She remained for what felt like several minutes, her incredible features in stark contrast to the leaf litter of the trail.  Her eyes bored into me deep, as if there was something she had to say.  She turned quickly and pattered off a few paces only to look back and continue into a jog before disappearing in sticks and leaves.  Her presence almost spurred me into following her, leaving the mess of human kind behind, becoming one of the pack.  But that is not what she wanted.  Too often humans have followed animals into the wilderness to discover their secrets and too often they have swallowed up the resources they keep.  I found my dogs and left the forest.  Her eyes stayed with me as I worked in the fields.

I feel grateful that she allowed me to gaze on her for so long.  Too often Coyotes get a bad rap for attacking livestock when in reality their scavenging ways scarcely make them responsible.  Her presence in the forest is an indicator that there is balance between predator and prey.  As long as she has enough habitat to run in, enough grassland to hunt in and enough territory to cover undisturbed, she and her relatives shouldn't be found going through your garbage or bothering your pets.  She is an important part of the puzzle, just the same as birds, bees, mosquitoes, walrus, you and me.