Living where the coyote lays down with the turkey

Ryan M. Taylor

By RYAN M. TAYLOR

For the Capital Press

TOWNER, N.D. -- We don't live on the African savanna, but we have our share of wildlife here on the ranch. Some of it's pretty wild, but some of it is getting downright domestic.

The idyllic morning critter on Old MacDonald's farm was a rooster, ready to crow at the crack of dawn and get everybody out of bed and off to work.

I was up making coffee the other day, pretty close to the crack of dawn, and heard the shrillest, most blood-curdling racket I'd ever heard come from an animal outside. I looked out the window, but it was no rooster. It was a crowing coyote that stopped by to make sure we were up for the day, standing about 50 feet from the door.

I looked around for my trusty guard dogs, a hapless hybrid Labrador and a cowardly collie of the border variety. The black lab turned yeller, the border collie retreated from her border. I think the lab actually put his paws over his ears and tried to keep sleeping, sort of a low-tech canine snooze button.

The dogs weren't about to stand up to this invasive coyote. Even our sometimes protectant tom cat was gone, probably on the long walk home after trying to locate a neighboring mate within five miles.

It was up to me to protect the family. I'd been working so hard to try and keep the wolf from the door that I somehow let the wolf's sneaky cousin, the coyote, come a knocking, and yipping.

I went and got a rifle, loaded it and stepped out the back door to try and get the sneak on the visitor. As quick as he came, he left, and ran back into the trees. I guess coyotes haven't survived this long by being dumb around humans who are carrying the long black stick.

Maybe next time.

It wasn't long after the coyote left that our regular morning visitors came traipsing through the yard. The local herd of wild turkeys that are anything but wild came through for their usual breakfast of dog food and a morning stroll through my wife's garden.

It is disappointing that our guard dogs won't even guard their dog food from these fowl invaders. If they were a little sharper they could have a Thanksgiving turkey dinner every morning. You'd think the collie would at least try to herd them around a little. If she'd herd them into the horse trailer, I could shut the door and haul them to a place where they'd be a little more appreciated. Like a processing plant.

But the dogs aren't into fighting coyotes, and they aren't into eating turkeys. I thought for sure, though, that the coyote would be into eating a turkey.

The path he took away from the house had to take him right by the turkeys. I didn't hear any sound of a ruckus. No feathers flew and no turkey drumsticks got eaten near as I could tell.

Maybe I just need to buy more dog food. A trough full for the turkeys by the garden, a dish for the coyote by the front step, and a little for the worthless guard dogs if they can wake up long enough to eat.

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