The Bad Part of Farming

Canis latrans Français : Un coyote en Arizona

Image via Wikipedia

Any farmer that has animals will tell you that livestock quickly becomes deadstock. Since I wasn’t born in to farming I’m still trying to adjust to this concept. I’ve seen a lot of animals die;  Chickens from natural causes, or predators. We had to put our pony down due to chronic laminitis, my favorite goat passed away of old age, and the worst was our first and only lamb born this spring died of natural causes (Selenium deficiency) . But today may have set a new bar for heartbreak.

I took our little guy out to give the horses and donkey some carrots when I noticed one of our 2 sheep, Peep, was MIA. This was really out of character because usually her and Bo stick to our Llama like glue.

I took our son back to Farmer B so I could go look for Peep. When I mentioned she was missing, he said he had noticed that a couple days ago, but didn’t bother telling me, hoping she would come back and I would be spared the stress. What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you. Any woman out there will know that this is NOT a good theory. He had looked for her on Saturday but had not found her. Today is Tuesday. Angrily I stomped off to look for myself.

The truth is, I knew it wasn’t going to be a happy ending, but I was hoping that I would at least find that she had died of  natural causes as well. In fact I was fairly certain she had, because I couldn’t imagine any predator getting between the Llama or the donkey and our 2 sheep. So I zig-zagged across the 30 acre pasture to no avail. At the very back fence I was about to turn around when I noticed a trail off to the south in to some bushes. I thought it was from the horses becuase they often go there for the shade in the summer. I almost didn’t follow it, since it was half raining, half snowing, and my glasses were fogging up, but at the last minute I thought I should look. Just in case.

Well, a little ways down that path was the evidence I’d been looking for. A tuft of white wool. My heart sank a bit. A little further ahead was another chunk. I called Farmer B on my cell phone to tell him I suspected foul play. Just behind a bush, all I could see was white. I told B I knew what happened but hadn’t found the body. As I turned to leave I looked down at my feet and felt my heart drop even lower. There she was. Nothing but ribs, a spine, and a skull. My poor little Peep.

All teary eyed I headed back to the house keeping an eye out for coyote droppings, trying to figure out how close they were coming to the house. After our experience this spring with the bold male coyote that would stand its ground at 3 p.m. in my backyard, while two grown women ran at it screaming like banshee’s, I’m not inclined to take any more chances. Now that they’ve taken down a 70 lb animal, not just a chicken, I feel even more threatened by them. Sure enough, I found coyote poop all the way up behind out barn. It’s not hard to recognize, but if you’re not looking for it, easy to miss. I know 3 things now, they’re bold enough to come up to our house, willing to take out large prey, and it isn’t just one.

I have someone coming to hunt them this week. I know the animals they shoot might not be the exact ones that killed peep, but after losing 17 hens this spring, evidence of them being in our yard again recently, and now a dead sheep…I say kill ’em all. I have too much to lose if we wait.

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