Cows, Cold, and Coyotes

Hi, I’m Val, and I love alliteration. Also, we’ve had a lot going on recently.

Cows, Cold, and Coyotes

Cows

It’s already been a week since we went and helped our friends “work calves”. It turns out, working calves meant moving 300 head of cattle, chasing them, herding them, sorting them, touching every single one at least once, chasing them again, sorting for the heck of it, more chasing, filtering each cow and every calf through a chute, more chasing, moving some this way, herding some that way, and chasing them.

There was also some chasing involved. For three. hundred. cows.

It turned out it was not something that would be done by lunchtime, as I naively assumed. Twelve hours later, we were on our way home, sunburnt, exhausted, and caked with dirt and other brown natural material. Ahem.

I’m no rancher, but livestock doesn’t intimidate me. I will face off with a cow, wrangle a calf, wrestle a sheep, or fight a rooster. But to do any of those things for 12 hours in the glaring sun and the incessant wind is a different story. I all but collapsed once we got home, and my lips were blistered from being beaten by blowing sand and soil all day.

Give me a bit to recover, and I’ll be ready to do it again. Next time, better armed with experience and information to know what to expect and to plan accordingly.

Cold

Believe it or not, our last official frost date in this area is May 18th. I have tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the ground already outside, as well as apple tree blossoms and elderberry budding.

When our frost advisory came in for May 20th and 21st, I was disheartened. When it upgraded to a freeze warning, I was devastated.

Before it got cold, though, check out how beautiful it was for us to watch the lunar eclipse:

Back to the cold.

I covered everything I had in the garden. Frost barrier cloth, pots, buckets, totes, trash bags – I used everything I had available to cover every single garden baby. I carefully bagged the apple tree. Thankfully, it’s young enough I can still cover it with a lawn and leaf bag in an effort to protect the blossoms.

My raised beds looked like a graveyard, each spot marked with a plastic headstone, held in place with an actual stone.

However, my chokecherry trees…. Two days prior, I was marveling at both chokecherry trees by the house. They’re covered with more blossoms than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. If half of them produce chokecherries this year, we’ll have more abundance of chokecherry syrup and jelly than we’ll be able to use in five years’ time.

But if those blossoms freeze, there will be no fruit.

This morning when I woke up, I tentatively checked the outside temperature as soon as my eyes were opened. Thirty-seven degrees. Praise God.

Rumor is, it will be colder tonight. By how much, I’m not sure. We could potentially dip to or below freezing. I’m prayerful, if hot air really does rise, our hilltop will be spared a freeze, and our chokecherries and garden produce can continue on as if nothing detrimental happened in the weather.

Coyotes

I have a love/hate relationship with coyotes. I love that they eat rodents. Once, I watched a coyote at the bottom of our hill, hunt and devour at least six field mice before it trotted on its merry way.

I hate everything else about them.

I hate the sound they make. If evil had a sound, it would be a coyote’s shrill howl/yip nonsense.

I hate their droppings.

They kill chickens. Not just one and done, no. They take out an entire flock within minutes. Then they make that evil shrill sound.

So when Hubs was way too chill about seeing a coyote THIRTY FEET from the house, eyeing our flock for its noon meal (oh yes, they don’t just come out at night. That has been fact-checked and found to be FALSE), I sprang into action.

Sprinting down the hallway, I paused only to slip into my muck boots and open the door. I tore outside and in a voice I didn’t recognize and couldn’t replicate if you wanted me to, I shouted at the varmint.

Turning tail, it ran down our hill before pausing to look back. I was still standing guard, heart pounding somewhere between my ears, watching it. When I didn’t retreat, it carried on crossing the dirt road, trotting through the tree line, then turned to look back again. “Keep. moving.” I growled.

It did. Across the bend in the road, under the barbed wire fence, and down into the ravine. I lost sight of it when it was about a mile from the house.

It was too close to the house. Too close to my chickens. Too close a call if our airhead Goldendoodle had been outside.

I told Hubs, “I need to carry a sidearm at all times.”

“So you can shoot at anything in any direction?” he replied. Apparently, he thinks he married Yosemite Sam instead of Annie Oakley. Psh.

Conclusion

It may be cold outside, but we’ve got hot meals on-demand here at the hilltop homestead.

I’ve given my blessing – nay, an order – for Hubs to buy traps to put a certain distance from the house. If a coyote comes that close, it will only make that mistake once.

And when it comes to cows, well, I learned a lot. I would still love to have a handful of my own, but definitely not 300. A homestead herd is very different from a commercial herd. To raise my own beef and collect milk from my backyard would be a dream come true. One day I’ll turn that dream into a reality.

I think it’s time for another cup of coffee. Until next time, friend.

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