Freddy the Coyote
May 13, 2016
Before his encounter with the roto-tiller this morning I’d only seen Freddy once, and that was two years ago this summer when he came out to watch my tractor mow around the seedlings in a stand of pine and walnut next to the woodlot. Accompanied by a much smaller coyote with an identical brown coat, Freddy spent an hour hunting mice in the lee of the tractor, deftly stepping out of cover to nab food disturbed by the bush hog.
At the time I was glad to see the pair. We’d been more than a year without a resident coyote following the disappearance of Emily, the old alpha who had set the rules around the farm for six years. Emily had become very tame as she studied our habits, and so she and her offspring often visited the orchard and garden, producing a few startled visitors and the odd photo-op.
Not so with Freddy. Apparently he had checked me out and found me wanting, because I just never saw him again. The tracks were there: huge paws accompanied by the delicate footprints of his mate. Our spaniel took great delight in their scat, so we were reminded they were around on every walk.
This morning the landscape waited nervously for the promised rain. Since 4:00 it had tried and failed to let loose. I paced the back deck, revelling in the sudden warmth but a bit nervous about Friday 13th and the coming rain.
Freddy appeared suddenly. He needs a good brushing to get that long winter hair (faded almost blonde) off his hips and shoulders.
While Emily used to enter the orchard with a confident swagger, Freddy skulks. The tall, rangy coyote floats lightly over the grass. This morning he spent much of his time looking over his shoulder, which made it harder than ever to tell where he’s going. I had a momentary surge of adrenaline when he took several steps directly toward the stairs to the deck, but he suddenly veered off toward the garden.
The scent of the freshly tilled soil obviously intrigued Freddy, but then he caught sight of the rototiller and jumped back. He stared, thought it over, and retraced his tracks out of the garden, disappeared behind a row of wild grapevines, and re-appeared one field over to complete his transit to the mouse-rich patch of seedlings on the knoll beyond the barn.
So that’s Freddy, a no-nonsense coyote mousing to feed his family.