The Solace of Cold

First of February hung on a moonless night as a thousand miles away a
monster comprised of rain, snow and ice rolled across the continent towards
the Northeast. Artic air enveloping the Currant Farm held its breath. Frigid
winter nights on the farm can be tranquil, peaceful but not this night. The
stillness held in tension as even the naked trees and ancient stone walls
sensed the presence of sinister standing in the darkest corner. To be
completely mindful of ones surroundings is to perceive the tensity, the
unseen. Animals have this awareness and the animals on the farm this night,
like the frozen hush around them, were drawn and still.

The approaching storm stilled the air but there was something else afoot. As
I stood on the porch of the old farmhouse listening to the soundless night, I
too could sense an unnamed something. A tangible foreboding. And there it
was. The primeval screams that have stood the hair up on the necks of
humankind for 10,000 years. Howls! The pack of coyotes from the far hill
were suddenly on the hunt. Something was going to die tonight.

Nature is indifferent. She is neither kind nor well meaning. That is the
purview of caring humans. Nature has a plan which is greater than our
understanding and for her plan to succeed, she must constantly strive for
unachievable perfect balance. It’s a plan in flux, never static and only
exquisite in its overall scheme. The struggle for parity is the history of the
natural world.

Nature demands procreation and this is the season of breeding for Coyotes.

The new pups will arrive in April which will give them enough time to grow,
learn to hunt, feed themselves and be self-sufficient to survive next winter’s

The origin of the Eastern Coyote most likely began when some western
coyotes wandered north and began breeding with the gray wolf. This new hybrid was more successful at hunting small game than the pure wolfs which eventually led to the extirpation of the gray wolf from Ontario throughout the northeast. Coyotes began to appear in the 30s and are different from their southwestern cousin due, no doubt, to their wolf genes. They can grow to 45-50 pounds and live in packs of 5-6. There’s at least one pack of these wild canids here on the farm. Rabbits, squirrels and large number of mice make up the majority of their diet and they also have the unfortunate predilection for cats. They will take advantage of a wounded deer or a sick fawn which is nature’s edict that only the strongest and healthiest get to breed and pass on their genes.

coyote howling in the snow

Coyotes are mostly, but not exclusively nocturnal. Last summer, late one
afternoon before the honey bee wildflower field had grown to full height, I
saw a mother and two young hunting mice at the top of the field. She was
beautiful with a thick coat of blonde and grey. She reminded me of a long
legged golden retriever. The two young were now the same size as their
mom and I only knew that they were her pups because of the way they were
acting. She was diligently stalking mice, very cat like, across the field.
Periodically, she would jump in the air and expertly pounce, grabbing a
mouse every time. She was obviously teaching this art by example. The
young, on the other hand, were absolutely uninterested.  They lagged behind
grabbing each other’s tails and rolling around on the ground in an endless
tussle, yipping and laughing. At that moment, play was a lot more interesting
than school. Kids!

As I stood on the porch that night, I could follow the unseen pack running the
hill and chasing through the dark woods by their yips and what sounds like
cruel laughter. When they stopped, there would be a moment of silence and
then the bone chilling screams would resume. The tranquil and serene of the
farm is tempered with the innate trepidation our DNA dictates when one
hears these deadly howls. Nature never lets us forget her need for balance in
all things.

Howls from the Currant Farm,