Voices From the Farm: Coyote Attack!

1996 – continued

Sheba, Off Duty

Sheba, Off Duty

It was early August. I had an excellent group of feeder lambs, and planned to sell them at the end of the month. They were on a lush fenced pasture next to the highway with plenty of forage to last through the month. I did not intend to bring them in until just before the sale.

An early morning phone call from a neighbor caused me to change my plans! He was on his way to feed cattle on his parents’ farm, and as he passed our driveway he saw a female coyote, along with one pup, sitting just outside our sheep guard, waiting for the chance to grab a lamb.

I brought the lambs in off pasture immediately, but already 7 were missing, and another wounded so badly that it did not survive. With the coyotes this bold, I could not risk losing more lambs and called Joe, my feeder buyer, who came and picked them up at once.

At this point I began considering what I could do to keep my sheep safe! With several groups of sheep grazing in different pasture, post-weaning, it was impossible for Sheba, our guard dog, to protect them all. I came to the decision that a guard animal that grazed, as well as the guard dog, might be the answer… but, what kind?

Some grazers had used donkeys with varying degrees of success. Donkeys however, do not always get on well with dogs, and in fact might regard a dog as just as big an enemy as a coyote. I began thinking that a guard llama might be the answer, but I was not too sure about that either!

In mid-August I purchased replacement windows for our house. I had suffered long enough with climbing ladders and putting up heavy storm windows every fall! The windows were a big, and costly, improvement, but worth the money! Also, toward the end of the month, I had our septic tank and dry well pumped, “Now,” I thought, “for once, I am ready for winter!”

I was going to celebrate my 70th Birthday on September 8, and I now had a gentleman friend, who was taking me out to dinner. Little did I suspect, that he and my two sweet scheming children had conspired to throw a whopping surprise birthday party, with about 30 friends and family attending! He and I arrived at the Supper Club, and took a seat at the bar to have a glass of wine before dinner. My friend said, “I’ll go and see if there is a table open,” and went into the dining area where we usually sat. Actually, of course, he went to give the “high sign” to my kids, who were in the other larger dining area.

He then came back and said, “They are all filled up in there, so we’ll just go and eat on this side,” and steered me toward the door to the large dining area. I, wine glass in hand, was wondering what the rush was that we had to jump up and eat right away, instead of enjoying a leisurely glass of wine first, but I opened the door and quickly saw a room full of people wearing party hats, with noise makers, etc., and said, “We can’t go in there, it’s a party!”

I tried to turn and go back through the doorway, but of course, my friend was blocking the way, smiling, and said, “No, that’s alright, just turn around and look at the people.” I glanced back, and suddenly saw a familiar face wearing a huge grin, then another, and another! I had been had! Of course, my kids were in hysterics by this time! It was a lovely party, after the initial shock, and my kids are still chortling over the fact that they were able to pull this off without my ever suspecting a thing!

A couple days after the gala party, I was back in the barn treating 30 lambs for parasites, a necessity with grazing animals, and especially lambs, as they are more vulnerable than mature sheep, and can die quickly if not treated periodically.

BEFORE the Bay Window

BEFORE the Bay Window

Right after that task was completed, a man came to install the big bay window, which I had ordered along with the replacement windows that had been installed earlier, but its delivery had been delayed so it was not being installed by the original crew.

We had previously had a large living room window, which was being removed, and replaced by this huge bay window, but the opening for it had to be enlarged. The installer managed to accomplish that, but then had to leave and find someone to help him lift the heavy window in place and install it.

He returned with someone he apparently picked up at the unemployment office in Winona. Neither seemed well versed in this task, but they did manage to get the window in place, and braced after a fashion. They seemed a little inept, but willing, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. After the window was in, they left to return the helper to Winona, but the installer would be back the next day to finish the job.

He returned the next day and did some more work on the window, but I noticed he had not used some of the materials that came with the window. One was a heavy metal cable, which looked to me like it could be an important part, and I asked him about it. He said, however, that it was not necessary, it was just one of the options, but he had chosen a different option. He went on and finished the installation, but still needed to build a roof over the window, so had to go and get materials for that job.

He was back the next day, bringing roofing materials, and went to work. I know next to nothing about roofing, but when he finally had the roof built and shingled, I heard a lot of pounding and when I looked he had laid an aluminum strip over the shingles and was pounding in place to make it fit tightly against the house and the shingles. I thought this was rather strange, but then what did I know?

Inside the Shelter Belt

Inside the Shelter Belt

Soon thereafter we got a substantial rain one night. The roof leaked, and it leaked enough that the wooden floor of the interior was getting splattered. I quickly put pans and buckets under the leaks, and put towels to catch the splatters from the pans. I was up most of the night.

In the morning I called the seller of the window and he reassured me that he would have someone out to fix the problem. Shortly, two men came and they did quite a lot of caulking on the roof. The next rain we had, there was still a serious leak, and this charade went on for quite awhile, and if the problem was not solved at least the chill of fall was in the air and the rains stopped.

A 3-day trip to Milwaukee to visit niece Sandy was a nice break before starting to haul the 10 locker lambs. The breeding stock sales had been very good all year, and continued with 10 ram lambs and also another 12 ewe lambs sold… these in addition to the 50 sold early in the year. This meant my ewe flock was not going to grow much this year, and the coyotes struck again in November, killing two excellent 5-year old ewes, one a quad, the other a triplet, hard losses. This pretty much cemented the idea that I had to step up the guard program in some way, or I’d soon be out of business!

The ewes were on pasture until late December, and were then brought inside the windbreak for shelter. We had put up 50 big round hay bales in the summer for winter feeding, so Sean would move a couple new bale to the feeders every 4 to 5 days with the Bobcat. The sheep also had access to a free choice trace mineral feeder in the barn, so I was having a pretty easy winter!

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1 comment to Voices From the Farm: Coyote Attack!

  • Oh how I have missed your stories. I told myself I had to give myself permission to sit down and enjoy them. Can not believe the guy with the window did not stop to think about the water tightness! Hope when they got it right they gave you a bonus! People appreciate how wonderful you are, so that is why they would plan the surprise party!! How fun it must have been! You deserve a break from all the hard work of farming!