Maybe the coyotes just want to be friends. Making music for us in the night.

I went to bed last night after loading my pictures for this morning.  But I had no words in my head.  I looked at the writing book that sits beside the bed, it’s pen at the ready, then reached past it for the reading book instead.

I remember as a kid my Mother asking my Father if he had any work coming. Dad had his own business and a family of Eight. Dad gulped at his coffee, shook the newspaper straight and said don’t worry something always comes through the door. He had work until Friday that would do for today.  I remember listening to this low conversation and being incredibly comforted by his absolute surety that something would turn up.   It was the essence of hope, the part of hope that just knows. It was one of those tremendous windows of knowledge that open in the mind of a child and never close.  That the worrying would not help, the panic would change nothing.   And something always did come through his big workshop doors. And I always find the words.

So when I went to sleep last night trying to tie a sentence to Daisy’s intense dislike of a manure heap growing too close to her front door, I was not worrying.  It really is not as close as it looks. She is just looking for a conversation.

In the night I always get up about midnight and stoke the fire. It is our only heating so it needs to be kept burning.  Last night, as I passed, I opened the  garden door for TonTon to go out for his usual midnight constitutional.

Look at this Poor Peghorn, he  stood in something yucky. He and his brood had been ranging far out into the melting fields again and when they came in they were all wearing thick mud boots. It makes them throw their feet out to the side, with a tiny confused shake as they walk. I know it is unkind to laugh.  But last night when I opened the door and after Ton had taken three steps outside with his four feet, we were hit with a blast of howling. Coyotes lit up the night with their piercing  calls. TonTon already on the steps outside the French Doors froze and very slowly and with the utmost care REVERSED back through the door. Placing his feet back into his own footsteps, slowly, slowly backing  into the room. His bottom leading his head he stepped gingerly around and returned his body to his bed. He sat back down, still facing out and said clear as a bell. Never mind. I’ll hold it! I don’t really need to go anyway.  Hairy MacLairy was pretending to Be a tree yesterday so someone would think his field was empty and leave the gate open or maybe he is attempting to climb into the tree, but whichever way  we look at it – he is intent upon escape.

Maybe the coyotes  just want to be friends I said to TonTon. He raised his eyes, slumped  down with a thud and made like a snail.  Asleep within seconds he was probably dreaming about this rooster standing on the cat table, on the verandah, brassy as all get out.  Tonton was given permission to move him along, which he was more than happy to do.

The coyotes howled more insistently from outside the door.  Dogs on the move. They must have been at the creek passing through. I shut the door and the sound was cut off.  But a sound like that, when it is a snippet, resonates into your minds eye.  The soundtrack bounces up like an outdoor movie onto the inside of your skull. I looked at it, hit pause and counted the howls and different voices.   When they cry out in a pack like that you can hear each seperate  call. This was a small string quartet of discordant yet perfectly pitched  sound. Each instrument though blended was quite seperate from the others.  I loaded the fire with wood and wondered if one older coyote was the conducter, bringing each voice in,  teasing the sounds out, howling them up and down the scale, some held in a stacatto yapping rhythm, while another is sent into a swoop upwards, while his brother is directed to slide his voice down a canine keyboard. Then with a slow dip of his head the conductor lulls them back down into a sirens murmur as they begin to move  across the landscape. The percussion section of paws building a bridge.

Until their uneducated, unappreciative neighbour in the unlit house sticks her head out the window into the night and yells “Do you Mind!? Some of us are trying to sleep!”

Philistines the conductor mutters. Stowing his baton back in its box.

Good Morning


102 Comments on “Maybe the coyotes just want to be friends. Making music for us in the night.

  1. I do hope in your spare time (do you have any?) that you are writing a book. Whatever it may be, I would stand in line to buy it. Your writing is so rich, Cecilia. ~ Lynda

    • Morning Lynda. The idea is to start with a collection of the short stories. in fact I think I am better at short stories..Though there is a time issue, i might just have to start getting up earlier!! c

  2. Good Morning C.
    Hairy is whistling casually and saying “no need to come this way, there’s nothing going on over here. . .nope not a thing. . .”

  3. Ha! Wait til you see my photos this morning!
    Sweet Cleo actually DOES play with one of our local coyotes. She goes out every night after dinner, and they chase each other through the yard. I wouldn’t believe it, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes…She’s sad on nights when her friend doesn’t come over.

  4. As always, I love your wonderful photography and commentary.
    We get woken by the coyotes in the night here too. I’ve even shouted at them, “Shut up!” when they started up their chorus a mere several hundred feet across the field from my house. Even though I fear for my chickens, (and we’ve lost a couple to them…) I do love that they’re here, along with the fischer cats, deer, fox, and all the other mostly invisible-to-us woods creatures who make themselves known by footprints and scat, and if we’re lucky, a sighting. In summer especially, when the windows are open, I agree, I can hear the individual voices. The wildness of their chorus always raises goosebumps. We’ve seen them at the edge of the woods during the day. One very bold fellow watched me dig in the garden, standing very still by the stonewall, last summer. All the while Ross made a racket mowing the grass, and Bill drove the tractor, he never moved. The deer have been visiting my bird feeder recently, even though we’re having this open winter and there’s plenty of food for them elsewhere. As we drive up and get out of the car, we hear them crashing off through the brambles down the littl hill in front of the house. We see their eyes lit by the headlights, and then their still silhouettes in the field as we drive up to the farm. It’s such a good reminder that in our arrogant, human-centered focus, we don’t really own this world…

    • beautifully put maggie, i am happy to share. most of the time i don’t even shut the chook house door. They are just passing through and looking for a feed. A bit like us. c

    • If you put a chicken out they will eat it. Honestly i have more trouble with local wandering domestic dogs. Coyotes are quite small, about as big as TonTon, they would not bother a full grown cow, maybe a newborn calf, but not a cow. c

  5. Oh it’s all fun and games until your small livestock is missing and your child develops rabies.
    I appreciate coyotes through the magnification of a Leupold telescopic sight attached to a .243 caliber varmint rifle.

    • I have never heard of a coyote biting a child. And if I leave my stock unfenced and vulnerable to attack I would consider an attack my own fault, esp if i lost an animal. Coyotes are territorial. I know these guys, they do not bother me. If I shot these coyotes another pack would move in and i would rather the devil i know! c

  6. Great read and beautifully written. Not sure about the Coyotes though. I think I would be camped outside my chicken house. Fab photos as always.
    Regards Florence x

  7. Celi, I had a father something like yours. Because he was so quietly confident even in uncertain times,we (the six children) didn’t worry and were as a rule well-fed often times on beans and hot dogs, but filling nonetheless. As usual, I love your writing and your photos, and particularly your love and appreciation of the natural order of things.

    • This is how I feel too Lois, I would rather live with the wildlife than create dangerous vacuums by trying to eradicate the parts I am afraid of. Something darker always fills the space you have left open. Best to try and achieve a ‘Living With’. As much a humanly possible. So far we have a status quo. I know this idea is not for everyone. I am glad you and many others understand. c

  8. I have to admit, I’d be afraid of those dark, midnight hours. Especially hearing the howling, your recent hunters….I’d stoke that fire and jump back into bed immediately!!

    • Oh i don’t trust them, I keep my stock safe, but I have gotton to know this quartet over time.. They are a part of the landscape. c

  9. What a great post, Celi! Beautifully written, as we’ve come to expect. Your TonTon’s no fool, unlike my Max who would’ve charged out after them. Although I’ve not seen coyotes in Michigan, I did see one last Summer running full speed down a street here in Chicago. The look on all of the people standing around — it was near an “el” stop — was priceless.

  10. Ah those words did come…and how! Have never heard a coyote for real, but I was hearing them through your words. I love those still hours in the middle of the night when every sound is magnified and the dogs are on alert to protect us. My Little Miss Luna is mostly Jack Russell and her hair stands on end down her spine while she looks up to me and says “don´t worry, we´ll see them off” when we hear strange sounds! And as for Hairy, a detective in training as clearly he is a Master of Disguise 🙂

  11. Your words paint such a beautiful, haunting and romantic picture of those coyotes in the still night, and perhaps they are fairly harmless with so much range. Alas, we have them here in the city and in our neighborhoods close by, though I’ve never heard one, and they’ve been killing pet cats and dogs…not so romantic. I live in fear of seeing one on our street. I think your TonTon had the right idea!

    • Yes there is plenty for them to eat out here, though i am sure if i gave them a cat they would eat that too. So sad when they get into the cities, completely out of their wild territories, then everything is upside down! c

  12. At home, the coyotes normally were most vocal when they had their litters in the spring. I wonder why they were so loud last night? My father always worried when he heard the coyotes because he knew if a calf was born that night or was bedded down too far from it’s mother, it would be dinner. I hope your animals stay safe.

    • Morning Anna, yes my animals sleep in the barn, esp if they are close to birthing. (which no-one seems to be). John made a similar comment because usually we hear them more in the spring, he thinks with the warmer weather maybe there is more food about for them. We are very well fenced because of his respect for the coyotes and my fear of the wild packs of abandoned domestic dogs which have been seen only a few miles from here.. so far so good.. c

  13. And good morning Celi and all the lovely farmy residents. If that had been my Molly, she’d have emptied herself where she stood when those coyotes howled. She and I share that trait, although I’m more apt to do so with a sneeze. Ageing is such humorous affliction.

  14. I like Jim’s comment 🙂 excellent photos and story, nice to wake up to this morning! I was more patient with the coyotes until one charged me last summer and then ambushed my terrier. Now, they must die.

  15. I surely enjoyed your musical interlude today… what a vision you created in my mind’s eye of those coyotes. I prefer yours to mine… I always felt struck with terror and wondered who they were hunting.. especially when they stopped instantly.

  16. We had chickens growing up and it was like a comedy watching them get their feet ungunked:) Love the photos – some are just hilarious! I get to hear the quail and the coyotes where I live – beautiful sounds. Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Day:)

  17. I have problems keeping the deer and rabbits from eating my garden. Personally, I like having the coyotes around – they keep the rabbits in check, and the deer on the move.

    • If you can achieve a balance it is brilliant.. we have a lot of deer around here too but no damage to the gardens so far.. fingers crossed.. c

  18. There is a pack of coyotes in the arboretum, of which a part is across the street from us. We can see where they dug under the fence to get in and out. We have seen them in our yard and hear them quite a bit. Being a 1/4 acre lot that puts them pretty close. So if I ever get my coop built it will have to be secure. There have been warnings put out to keep small pets attended to and even young children.

    • I have asked everyone I know today and no-one has ever heard of a person being attacked by a coyote, they are just too timid. I have frequently heard of pitbulls attacking people though. Of course a small sick or lame dog far from home would be a target, same for a cat. They are wild, and nosy though. c

  19. Celi, as much as I loved this read, all I could think about was that pic of Ton Ton – brilliant shot! Clearly I am all about the photography at the moment!
    🙂 Mandy

  20. There are no coyotes here so I have never heard their cries. I love the vision you created of their orchestra. Your father’s something-will-come- through-the-door sounds like a good one to follow.

  21. ‘Tis the season for coyotes to start looking for mates and territory. I guess they have to announce their intentions 🙂

  22. Having recently relocated from a remote rural mountain location to a more urban setting, I am ever thankful when I hear the cry of the coyote. They remind me of the feral and make my spirit free!

  23. There’s no denying that it’s an eerie sound, but I agree – it’s also wonderful! I’ve not heard them too often, but sure enjoy the shivers when I do!

  24. Here I go again – I simply LOVE your animal photos and stories! TonTon, sweet boy.
    I really miss hearing coyotes howling and mountain lions screeching in the night. It always comforted me while living on the desert in New Mexico.
    I do wonder, however, how our little cattle dog Lucy will do when we move back to the mainland. She takes off after mongoose here and comes back loaded up with stink. We’ve taught all the dogs to howl together with us in the field at night – it’s glorious, really!

  25. Your posts are a delight to read. I grew up (and remain) in the Midwest, ergo, the sound of coyotes is a bit comforting. The pup, like yours, doesn’t take kindly to the howl. It makes me wonder about ‘animal speak’ ~

  26. I love the sound of coyotes. Ton Ton is no dummy…the coyotes would love to lure him into a false sense of camaraderie. I can remember people being concerned that their dogs would succumb to the calls and run off with them. I have no idea if that ever happened. I think the wolves would be more likely to do that – to add to the gene pool.

    Looks like that mud is pretty yukky…how’s a cocky guy supposed to stay cool with those hens laughing at him?

  27. Good Morning and Good Afternoon to you all there, dear Cecilia… Another beautiful photographs… Thank you, with my love, nia

  28. Your posts are always a joy Cecilia but the part I loved the most was the story about your dad. I try my best as a mum to open that window in my kids mind. That there is always hope and no matter how tough it is darkest before the dawn

  29. I agree. What a cool attitude your Dad had! My guy is like that. I try to be. Funny sheepy! We actually saw a chicken cross the road today. Didn’t have mud on its feet though.

    • they all go to bed way up in the rafters of the barn, the only danger for that lot is if they fall off their perches! c

  30. So much sweetness here. I haven’t heard enough coyote singing in a long time and loved the imagery of your orchestral pack. One of the dogs I admired most in my youth was a half-coyote bitch our neighbors had, and she always had a touch of the feral about her, but was loyal and calm with those she trusted; I counted myself blessed at being accepted that way by her.

    Your father’s faith in things happening as they are meant to happen is, I think, the only sustainable attitude that can get us through life with a measure of equanimity. What is needed will be provided.

    Not so obviously for the poor muddy foot-shaking rooster, but I have in my mind a wonderful image of him dancing along as is in a conga line: dit-dit-da-da-SHAKE! SHAKE! Dit-dit-da-da-SHAKE! SHAKE!

  31. Such a wonderful household to grow up in…what is needed will be provided. I am the oldest of 6 and my dad was very much the same way. When I start to worry, I take a deep breath and tell myself that everything will be ok 🙂

  32. How wonderful, to hear coyotes!! I am so pleased to hear they still roam free, wow! Here in Africa, we don’t have coyotes, but we do have black-backed jackals, and I think maybe they sound a little alike…I love hearing their howls when we camp somewhere wild.

    I had such a chuckle at TonTon’s reaction 😀

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