It’s late. I’m surfing through hulu, looking for something to watch. I’m feeling anxious. No particular reason, except that, in the end, it’s always the same reason. And I don’t want to go to bed. And I can’t concentrate. So I surf hulu.
The dogs are restless. I don’t pay them much attention. The neighbor just put his cattle on the corn field next to us and the whole herd is walking up along the fenceline.
Then the kettle whistles and the night erupts with the yips of coyotes. I grab the flashlight and run outside. I usually can’t hear them from inside and never this clearly. They have to be close and now that the corn is down, I want to see how close.
I shine the spotlight over the field as the dogs pace agitatedly before me and there they are. Three coyotes lingering behind the herd of cattle. They don’t seem particularly interested in the cattle and the cattle aren’t paying any attention at all to them, but there they are, crouching at the sudden brightness.
Then the pony screams and I run down to the barn to make sure everything is alright. She and the minihorse are restless, walking back and forth in their stalls, but everything appears in order. I wonder if they smell the coyotes, sense danger in the barking of the dogs or if there is some other reason for their anxiety. I talk to them, rub their velvety noses and they seem calmed.
There’s a disturbance in the henhouse and I hear birds fluttering about. That isn’t normal. I can go in the henhouse at night and pick up a bird with nothing more than a small squawk. I run over to see if something has gotten in. As soon as I open the door, Mouse’s show cockerel bolts out the door and into the night. Timmy’s off after it, and I shine the light in the henhouse but see no evidence of a predator.
I’m almost positive I’ve lost the cockerel to pure chicken stupidity, but Timmy has it at the corner of the garden and is holding it for me.
“What is up with these animals tonight?” I think, as I take the bird from between the dog’s paws.
Even I am beginning to feel like there is something watching me and I wonder if there is something out here bigger and closer than the three coyotes across the street.
I stop to shine the light on the cattle. The last time I was near them when coyotes began to howl, their eyes rolled back in panic and they charged back and forth, trying to flee in every direction at once.
But now they’re just standing there, ears pricked forward, leaning toward where the howls last came from. They are concerned, but not panicked.
Because they are both standing right behind Flee who has his nose in the wind.
And I think this puppy is growing into his role better than I ever imagined. He’s nowhere near ready to tangle with a coyote, but the instincts are there. I can see it in the way he stands. And I can see it in the way the cattle trust him.
And as I lock the chicken back up in the henhouse, I know Flee was worth the drive, the money and even giving up the puppy I had wanted before we knew we needed a livestock guardian.
He is exactly what we need.