Wednesday, January 14, 2009

coyotes in the night

It’s four in the morning and the coyotes are howling.

It sounds like they are right outside our bedroom window. 

An entire choir.

Maybe, on closer listening, a barbershop quartet.

it’s more than one, though.

And as I sit at the window listening (and shining the flashlight out in the yard) I can tell that they aren’t right by the house either.

Probably, they are somewhere on the other side of the valley. As the crow flies, and especially as sound carries. not very far away. But much longer by foot.

Maybe they are somewhere in the rocks and forest going up the other side of the valley.

Either that, or they are singing between the Mercedes' parked in front of those half dozen brick fortresses (excuse me, those large houses) they built up on the ridge on the DC side of us.

But I meant to talk about coyotes and not real estate.

If you are from out west I’m sure coyotes aren’t all that unusual, but around here, coyotes are something new. Something of the past decade.

Around here, in our valley, we’ve only heard one or two over the past year. No longer than that.

Last year one of my wildlife cameras twice snapped an image of one walking down our driveway.

But running into a coyote in person?

I remember hiking up near Dinosaur when I worked the oil fields on the Utah/Colorado border. Mostly rocks and cactus. And coming around a rock outcropping there was a coyote. The two of us stopped and stared.

Neither moving.

Until the coyote turned and, it must have been while I blinked, disappear.

But back to our coyotes.

It’s four in the morning and I’m awake because our dogs. Our two great Pyrenees, Andorra and Marcus.

They are both upset.

And worried.

And on the hill over looking our chickens.

Barking. Barking, I assume, at the coyotes on the other side of the valley. Warning them to stay away. Don’t come around for the chickens. Or the geese. Leave the turkeys alone. Or for that matter, I guess, the dogs are worried the coyotes will bother the two of us, asleep upstairs in the farm house.

That’s what they are for. Great Pyrenees. Working dogs. Not pets Assigned the task of guarding the farm, our animals, vegetables and beehives at night.

Keeping the predators away from the farm fowl. 

And not just the coyote either.

Foxes, bobcats, raccoons, even possum and skunks.
And they do a pretty good job of it. We don’t lose farm birds

But not only that, they also, protect our vegetables.

Back when we first started our CSA. I can’t believe it, a dozen years ago, now. Before we knew just how evil deer were, Bambi and all of her brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. Cousins and grandparents.

Every night her entire family would sneak out into our fields and when the season was over they had devoured as much as $15,000 worth of vegetables.

Did you know a deer would like to eat something like 15 pounds of greens each and every night of her life.

That’s a lot of vegetables for Bambi to steal out of the mouths of our poor, hungry shareholders.

Now, with Andorra and Marcus on the job (as well as a ten foot tall anti-deer fence surrounding 15 acres of fields) the deer damage is kept to a minimum.

And Marcus not only keeps away the deer, he also dislikes crows (have you ever seen what a crow will do to a field of baby corn? Just as the sprouts are coming up he will walk from plant to plant, hundreds of them, pulling them up to eat the little barely germinated seed underneath.

Marcus, though, whenever he sees a crow turns livid and runs into the field. Barking.

And then there are the bears.

This time of the year the bears are mostly sleeping, hibernating, I guess. I haven’t seen one since around the middle of October. September and October of this year, however, were real bear months.

From what I could tell there were seven bears, including, cubs, working our valley.

Coming on the farm, knocking down the fences, breaking the branches off fruit trees, occasionally sneaking into the unloaded vegetable van.

But mostly the bears were after our beehives.

For those of you who have been out here you probably know we have almost three dozen hives.

Honey is part of our share.

But this last year the bears knocked over and robbed, destroyed, really, seven of our beehives.

And while the dogs are good at telling me there is something out there in the middle of the night, even a 150 pound dog isn’t much good at scaring away a bear.

And my anti-deer fence doesn’t work either. A momma bear, if she’s interested in finding her children something to eat will go right through our anti-deer fence.

And when they get to the hives. A real mess. (I think there are several pictures on our webpage).

I was going to tell the story of surprising a bear as it was eating the contents of the hive in front of our house but I see I’ve already written about it. (

However, as I recall, we were talking about coyotes.

and chickens.

and the 2009 season!

Let’s talk about the 2009 season.

Right now I am busy ordering seeds and other spring farm supplies.

This means we will be starting up in the greenhouse in just four weeks. Starting all of those seedlings that go into the ground from late April to early June.

By April first we’ll have over 70,000 seedlings growing in our greenhouse.

We start taking new 2009 subscriptions at the same time. Around February 10th.

What I’ll do is, around that time , I’ll send you an e-mail with all the details about becoming a 2009 shareholder.

Here’s an important piece of information to be aware of, especially if you are thinking about being a member this year. Right now, if we were to go by the number of people on the waiting list, our shares, this year, will fill up quickly. If you are planning on being a member of a CSA for the 2009 season the safe thing to do now is to do the research on which CSA you are going to join right now.

I believe most local CSA’s are listed on Local Harvest’s webpage ( Last year most CSA’s in our area filled up earlier than they had in years gone by. I know our subscription list was full two months earlier than it usually had in the past.

I’m sure the same thing goes for the other established CSA’s.

Visiting our farm? I love to have people come out and we’ll have several planned events later on in the year. Right now it isn’t the most pleasant time of year. Grey, bleak and muddy, though I must say our growing fields are rather bright green due to our cover crop of winter rye. If you want to come out and see the farm, talk about our CSA, maybe go for a hike, the thing to do is e-mail me to set up a time.

So, I hope you are having a warm winter. I hope the hard frost that they are predicting for later this week doesn't freeze your pipes or stall your car.

And I hope so far, you are having a bodacious winter.

Leigh Hauter