Many, many moons ago I created a blog called Dough, Dirt, & Dye which was all about bread baking, gardening, and the greeting cards I was then producing for my Etsy shop, Empty on the Inside. It was also an outlet for my “creative” writing, but somewhere along the way (not long after I started An Unrefined Vegan) I ran out of steam and decided to let DDD ride gracefully off into the sunset. I made the classic first-time blogger mistake of trying to write a post every single day and it was just too much. I have a great deal of fondness for my first blog, however, as well as for some of the posts I wrote so I’m occasionally going to share some of them here. My first offering (originally published July 4, 2011) is below (with slight modifications). It’s a short piece about one of my favorite animals, the underrated and much maligned coyote.
Do Coyotes Fear The Sound of Fireworks?
What’s the matter? Coyote get your deer?
– bumper sticker, via Edward Abbey
All along the back roads and state routes of Oklahoma are small white-washed shacks painted with exploding rockets and bursting stars decorating the decaying wood siding. They are shuttered most of the year, but come to life on and around July 4th. They sell fireworks. Throughout the long weekend, distant pops and sizzles can be heard and occasionally we see flashes in the sky as bright beads of sparks soar, flare briefly and fall to earth as tiny dark spots.
Today I’m thinking about coyotes. I’m thinking about the young family of coyotes living somewhere to the north of us, in the woods, or maybe to the west of us, in the grassy hollows, in a large den dug into the roots of a big tree. If we’re lucky, there are coyote families in both places.
Do coyotes fear the sound of fireworks the way our family dog, Violet, did, running to find the nearest dark place to hide? Or do they just howl in response the way they do when a train whistle blows? Maybe the sounds resemble the sound of a shotgun, in which case, they know to run and hide.
There are a lot of folks in Oklahoma who hate coyotes more than just about anything. Coyotes are routinely shot, poisoned and trapped. Some idiots even hang the lifeless bodies from barbed wire fences, a ridiculous and futile warning to other interlopers, as if coyotes recognize fences and property lines. Or maybe it’s misplaced pride in their kill. Ranchers say that coyotes kill their calves and I say coyotes mostly eat rodents and only cull out the ill or the dying among cattle, performing a needed function on the range. Ranchers complain that coyote lovers always rely on emotion-based logic and we coyote defenders fume that ranchers use the same myopic price-per-head-of-cattle reasoning. So the same arguments spin out over and over and over again and coyotes keep getting shot and hung from barbed wire fences.
What I know is that coyotes are safe on our land. I wish I could communicate that to the coyote family, tell them to stay here, that I welcome their hunting and their howls and yips in the night when I’m lucky enough to hear them, their loping trots across our fields, quick but not hurried – when I’m lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one.
I live on a hill and we’ve got a lot of coyotes around. I’ve seen a few, but mostly I just see the droppings. Some people here hate coyotes too, but they don’t get poisoned, shot or trapped. Mostly people just let them be, which is nice. People do fear coyotes, however; mostly because they’re afraid of their little dogs becoming coyote food (which has happened on occasion). Anyway, interesting post Annie. I didn’t realize you had a previous blog. Celeste
I’m happy to hear that the people around you let the coyotes be – it seems to be a “thing” with cattleman to have to exterminate them. On the other hand, I’d be heartbroken to have my dog taken by a coyote.
Reblogged this on Stupidityflowering and commented:
Love this ode to the Coyote
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When I lived on The Island in my 20’s, coyotes were many. They lived in the stretch of woods between our house and the fields that ran to the salt water. I often left for work well before dawn, at 4 to 5 am, I would come out of the house, and lounging in our side “yard” was the whole pack. Freaky, yet so wonderful.
They never caused issues outside of 1 or 2 baby calves a year in the farmers fields would get plucked, a dog here and there.
Mostly they lived off the bounty of wild rabbits and quail that littered our property. They kept nature in balance if anything.
We never lost a cat, they slept inside at night. They were not dummies….
Funny is, on the island, more pet lap rat dogs were picked off by bald eagles – brazenly, in the middle of the day, off decks. Easy pickings indeed 😉
Most folks in my neck of the woods don’t understand that nature/balance thing. Kel and I are the resident Tree Huggers ;-).
That is too bad! I miss their howling. I really liked them!
I’ve never seen a coyote and I didn’t know they were so much maligned, but I’m glad they have a safe haven on your land and I hope they stay there and raise their young.
I have a short video of three coyote pups eating dog chow in our front yard (we put some out when we noticed them eating birdseed…) in the hopes that they would stay on our land. Sadly, all three pups were shot by a neighbor.
That’s so sad Annie, I’m really sorry to hear it.
I love your old blog! If I ever saw someone hanging a coyote from a fence I would give them a mouthful for sure, that is just unethical. Some people really piss me off…Such a lack of heart. I would assume YES coyotes do fear fireworks, just as anyone would when being startled by a loud noise!
It amazes me that people get “angry” at animals for doing what is naturally in their instincts. Coyotes are abundant in Arizona where my dad lives, and they often eat peoples cats. I LOVE CATS and would be devastated if that happened to me, but I also know I would never let my cat outside if there were coyotes around, you just gotta use your brain!
The ignorance is appalling. The more we mess with the natural order of things…the worse the planet becomes for us.
Very nicely said. How sad that coyotes are misunderstood. We have done so much damage to this planet, we have no clue as to maintain balance, and we think that we deserve its resources more than the other species living in it, how sad.
Exactly. I wonder if we can ever get back that balance.
We humans think that this world is ours, when really it’s a primal ancient series of cycles that all rely on each other for survival. Our human cycle is out of whack, there are too many of us demanding too much and something’s gotta give. Its just really sad that these animals ARE starting to give and at alarming rates. Pretty soon these “pests” will just be memories
As usual, you summed it up perfectly.
Great pic. Great thoughts. I’ve never seen a coyote but I’ll assume that they have the same tendencies as dogs do.
So sad! I love coyotes (although at my last house I developed a very healthy fear of them, on my cat’s behalf…), and I really hate when people have so much pride in killing animals. The coyotes were here long before you decided to ranch here, buddy…
Straight up, Barb!!
Howl back to them one night.
I do sometimes :-)!
What a beautiful post, Annie. We don’t have coyotes in these parts, but I do think about all the other wildlife nearby (mostly ducks, cranes, seagulls, pelicans and sea lions) and I wonder how they cope with the fireworks every year. I know my poor little Sam is beside herself all day, as if she can sense it coming (or maybe it’s just all of our drunk neighbors). This year, since she now has a heart condition, I stayed in, crawled in the closet with her, held her through the fireworks and sang to her to help calm her.
We have coyotes around, but I have to be careful they don’t run off with my little Chihuahua!
Yep – that’s a very scary reality. I’m sure a pack of them could easily take our little Ike, too.
Love coyotes too. Unfortunately in Utah, the local governments have decided that the state is overrun. Hunters get $25 per set of coyote ears they bring in. Disgusting.
Totally sick. Our postmaster goes on a yearly coyote hunt – some kind of contest to see who can bring in the most bodies. Nice.