WICHE: Snow pack leaves evidence of wildlife

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You can see where all sorts of animals have ventured on your land.

By Jeneen Wiche

The other day, 4:30 p.m., after shedding my city boots for my country boots I head back out the door with my egg basket and a jug off water. Our two livestock guardian, dogs by my side, and I head back to the barn.

In the blink of an eye Baxter and Finca take off in full defense mode towards our hens and the barn. Baxter takes the front and Finca takes the back. And, to my bewilderment, a beautiful coyote is flushed from beyond and the dogs follow pursuit. Wiley coyote hits the frozen lake, and the dogs circle.

At one point Baxter (the Maremma who has remarkable speed) overshot the target and ran over the hill; meanwhile Finca (the Great Pyrenees who has might and determination) sat on the damn while Wiley Coyote sat down in the middle of the frozen lake.

I share the detail because I started thinking that this is probably the same creature I wrote about several months ago when we woke to an early morning pursuit between Finca and something (I was without my glasses at 3 that morning so could not confirm what was circling a perennial bed with Finca in sleepy pursuit.)

That morning it seemed the creature was playing a game with Finca, a certain kind of Wiley taunt. I could imagine the creature thinking, “I can run in circles and wear this big white thing out!” I saw this yesterday; too, when this beautiful coyote sat down and looked at Finca as to say, “I dare you, again, big lumbering white thing!” at this point I am still an interested observer. And, in fact, Finca did take the dare, and took to his pursuit on the icy lake. Baxter shows up and the team successfully chases Wiley away. At one point, even, Wiley literally tucked and turned tail when Finca got close. I hope that Wiley understands that Finca and Baxter are not to be underestimated! And, I am happy to report that no chickens where involved in the incident. Knock on wood, please.

Since it all ended well it lifted my spirits a bit; after all the ice and snow and cold and broken limbs and frozen water buckets- I needed a pick me up. And at that moment I was glad there was all that snow and ice because I had a map to follow and study. I compared the huge paw prints of the LGD’s and the small prints of the coyote at its various gates. I could determine that Wiley was not just there yesterday being chased but I could follow the trail all about the orchard, around the berries and asparagus; and, amazingly, the tracks ambled a few 100 feet from the barn where 80 chickens where hanging out and about.

So, if I could communicate with coyotes I would ask that they focus on the rabbit population. Which, interestingly, next to the coyote tracks I followed were indeed rabbit tracks. So, maybe some outdoor tracking is in your future, too.

Walk about and investigate, and you may be surprised what you see left behind in the snow. Is it a bird, a raccoon, a skunk or opossum? Maybe a fox or coyote is in your midst, too?

 I am starting to see nature’s designs everywhere I trek in the snow; it is a good winter distraction as we wait for the ice to melt. And, I will remember that tracking in the snow is more fun than the mud that is to come.


Check out gardening columnist Jeneen Wiche’s work at www.SwallowRailFarm.com. You can find her columns also at www.SentinelNews.com/agriculture. She answers questions once a month in SentinelNewsPlus. To submit a question, send an E-mail to jwiche@shelbybb.netand type “Sentinel-News” in the subject field.