Intro to Country Living
Benefits of Country Living
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Living in the Country and the Wildlife I've Encountered
One of the things we've gotten since moving into the country is a lot more exposure to wildlife. Generally, I really like it. I could do without the rattlesnakes, rats, and other troublesome varmints, but it's all a part of the package deal. I'm not concerned about the rattlesnakes for my own sake, but more so for some of my young children. I constantly remind them "keep your eyes and ears open" and instruct them not to run wildly through the brush when they can't seen what's under their feet. Thankfully, the kids have not run across too many snakes. On the other hand, I have encountered quite a few snakes while working around the farm. Naturally, I don't have a camera with me all the time, so most of my encounters are just recorded in my memory. Occasionally, I've had the opportunity to take pictures of some of the snakes I've encountered on the farm.
One of the Many Rattlesnakes That We've Seen Around Our Home
If you are interested in seeing some more pictures of snakes I've seen around the farm, then you can see them on this page: SNAKES. Snakes are not the only wildlife that we see around here. There are many different critters that make this area that we call "home" as their home too.
We have a lot of coyotes around here as well. On many nights, you can go outside and hear the coyotes howling in the distance. Some nights they are so close and it is so loud, that you can even hear their eerie cries from inside the house while lying in bed at night. Other than getting our dogs all worked up at times, occasionally hanging around the cattle during calving season, they have not really caused us any trouble personally. The people that we bought the farm from told me that one day they looked out and saw their cat being carried off by a coyote. I was amazed at how small and skinny many of these coyotes really are. I imagined that they would have been bigger and more intimidating looking. By themselves, they are probably not a big risk to a larger animal; however, when a pack of coyotes gang up on a victim, then the tables can be turned. I have been told by people that have lived in the area that it is not uncommon for a single coyote (often female) to lead a dog out away from the safety of their home and then the pack kills and eats the dog. In addition, one person once told me that she watched as coyotes were harassing a cow that recently gave birth to a calf. While the mother cow was distracted, a coyote dragged the helpless calf out under the fence out of the protective reach of the mother. So, they sometimes cause trouble for people, but I try to take the approach of "live and let live". I don't go out of my way to kill things, in fact I try to go out of my way to leave things alone. Thankfully, the coyotes have usually kept their distance. They mind their business, and I try to mind my own and leave them alone.
Coyote Pup Standing By Our Shop
One day, our dogs were barking and carrying on and I went to take a look at what they were excited about. I thought that maybe they were barking at a rattlesnake by the shop as they sometimes did. When I looked out the window, I was very surprised to see a small coyote pup standing right in front of my shop. I grabbed the camera and I was able to snap the picture you see above. It is not common for a coyote to come up by a house like this. They are generally very scared of people, and the ones I've encountered on the farm have quickly fled when they noticed me. In this case, something was wrong with the coyote pup. It was sick. I felt sorry for it, and I actually wanted to try to help it, but I decided it was best to just leave it alone. It eventually went away. A few days later I was out in one of my fields working on irrigation and I found the coyote pup dead in the alfalfa field. It must have been sick and dying when I saw it a few days earlier. I don't know what was wrong with it, but death is a normal part of the cycle of life.
Underground Coyote Den
One day, my older boys were telling me of this cool "cave" that they discovered while exploring somewhere. They described that it was big enough so that you could crawl into it. I went out to see it and was surprised to discover that it was a coyote den. It was a neat discovery, and I could understand my boys' interest. If I was a kid, I'd also want to go in and make it a fort too. But, with age comes more experience (and hopefully more wisdom). The earthen walls and ceiling of the den didn't look very secure and could collapse and bury someone alive. I explained this to them, and I told them to stay out.
A Coupe of Pigeons Hanging Out On Our Deck
There's no shortage of birds around here either. There are many varmints around here as well. Rats, mice, marmots, gophers, and more I'm sure. The ones I am most familiar with at the ones that I have to deal with regularly. Also, the ones that have caused me the most trouble are the ones that have gotten most of my attention. The mice are abundant and way too plentiful. They get into our vehicles, our shop, my farm equipment. Thankfully, our house was built tight so that mice have a hard time getting inside. Over the past several years, we've only had one mouse get into the house and that was because it chewed through the sealing gasket at the bottom of our garage door and got into the garage. From there, it managed to get into the wall and crossed over into the utility room. It died on top of the some the ductwork from our furnace and it stunk to high heaven (whatever that means) for a long time. Eventually, I was able to locate it and used a long claw tool (pick up) to reach back there an get the half dried carcass. Still stunk in the utility room for a while. I placed some bricks along the ground by the front of the garage door at the corners to prevent more mice from getting in that way. It seems to have worked. The rats are really a big pest around here. One year, almost half the branches and fruit of our small Italian plum (prune) tree were chewed off. I found them piled up behind our shop. I set a big rat trap out there and caught a very large rat. Best as I can tell, it they are pack rats. They are worse than the mice because they not only chew things up, but they also carry them away. Once on our old Aerostar van, I went out to start it and it ran horribly. Barely ran at all. I popped the hood only to discover that the rats had chewed through electrical wiring and vacuum hoses. I fixed things the best I could, but some sections of the hose were chewed through and carried away. As a result, I couldn't even find where all the hoses were supposed to go. I capped off and plugged some vacuum hoses and patched the wiring. The van ran much better after that, but obviously these sort of destructive critters can be troublesome.
A Beehive in a Rock Formation Behind Our Property
I could go on and on.... there is so much wildlife around here: rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, deer, cougar, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others. Then there are the insects: lots of different spiders, black widows, scorpions, praying mantis, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, ants, and so much more! It's a great place to raise a family and a great place to live if you like nature and wildlife. We do.