So I’m sitting with a cup of tea after a long day of busyness without much accomplishment. I watch one more show than I intended on hulu and suddenly it is after one. And I realize I never collected the guinea eggs for the incubator. Nor did I lock up the ducklings.
So I arm myself with a flashlight and the dogs and go out into the night. The sheep are all lying in the glow of the porchlight. They turn their heads to watch me, but so long as I don’t walk toward them, they will stay put. The ducklings chatter as if they are happy to see me which starts a chorus of honking and quacking from the rest of the waterfowl.
The henhouse rewards me with nine guinea eggs and a couple pecks from the hens in the corner. The same four hens who have been hiding behind that board for several days. And I just now realize that they have also had all the eggs every time I go to collect. So I only take the guinea eggs and leave them with a few eggs to brood.
As I leave, Flee starts to pace and his barking changes. It’s deeper. More threatening. And Marley stands in front of the henhouse with his ears focused on the corn field.
A lone coyote starts to yip.
More answer in the distance, but this one sound close. I shine the flashlight across the cornfield and spot it running toward us, but I figure it is actually running for the cover of the tall grasses that divide the field.
Except that when it gets there, it follows the grasses to where they run closest to our property and just stops. All I see are two eyes glowing in the darkness.
Flee goes nuts. A guinea fowl crashes into the run. The ducks and geese are raising a raucous and all the sheep get up. Though they’ve been with us for only a week, they run toward the furiously barking Great Pyrenees. They’re still under quarantine, but their fence runs within a few feet of the pasture and it is in that section closest to Flee that they huddle, moving back and forth with his pacing.
And I get that uneasy feeling of being watched. I am being watched, but I also have to turn around. I have to put the eggs down and collect the ducklings. But that means turning my back toward a coyote I know is watching me. And though it is still a quarter of a mile away and four dogs stand between it and me, I feel as if the only thing holding it there in the grasses is my gaze.
I back toward the garage where I put down the eggs and grab a dog kennel to shoo the ducklings into. When I come out, there’s no sign of the coyote. I’m not sure if it took the moment of darkness to take off or to circle around where it can approach under cover. But the dogs are more relaxed, so I am relaxed.
At least until I have to kneel down to collect the ducklings.
And I know it is going to be another long night.