I learned this morning from reading a package of oatmeal that there is a porridge contest in Scotland. The winner of this contest wins “The Golden Spurtle.” I liked that and thought immediately to name an animal Spurtle.
As it turns out the coyote now roaming the eastern field is a pleasant golden color this time of year. It provides her excellent camouflage against the tall dead grasses of our winter fields. It’s not so good when she is traversing the deep green of young wheat as she was this morning in the field north of us. I saw her as I walked the dogs along our usual path. Her route paralleled ours and I assume she was there after scoping out the chicken run, only to find the three dogs and I all going out to open the run together.
Last evening I’d gone out to see what the roosters were complaining about. As I got nearer the woodpile in front of the run, I heard rustling just beyond the fence between the yard and field. Taking a couple of steps toward the noise, I heard more, then saw Spurtle stepping out from the dead ragweed and burdock that crowds the fence. She paused and looked at me, as she does, to see if I would chase her. When I took a couple of steps she walked….walked! mind you…down the hill and toward the field, stopping every few yards to see if I was still behind her.
I followed her down the hill and into the path and stopped. Then I whistled for her. She stopped, and I made that noise one makes when calling a dog, pursing my lips and making a kissing sound. She turned and looked at me and sat down, looking at me as if wondering what I was up to. I whistled again and she sat looking at me, debating. Ultimately, she must have decided it was a trap, and she loped off. I followed her a little ways. She only runs as far as she has to, turning once in a while to see if I’m still in pursuit. If not, she slows to a walk and goes on about her business.
This morning I saw her first and kept pace with the dogs, which never, ever seem to see this coyote. Maybe this is all a figment of my imagination. “Spurtle” seems an even better name for a figment. When she finally saw me she slowed. I slowed with her. She increased her pace, as did I. She quickly grew tired of this little dance and stopped. I stopped and looked at her. Then she looked back towards the house, and I just know she was wondering if we’d continue on our way, so she could circle back to the house. But, seeing through her plan, I didn’t move. The dogs continued sniffing about and eating grass nearby, still oblivious. (I’m pretty sure they will never get promoted to guardian animals.)
Spurtle continued to watch me and glance back towards the house. I remained. She sat down and waited. I remained. She lay down and waited. I remained. Finally, I decided to head back to the house with the dogs, because I figured she would head back there knowing the coop and house were unguarded. She remained in her spot. Even after I went into the house with the dogs, she lay in the grass. Only after I’d made a trip to the greenhouse to water some plants did she rise and continue on her journey east, and then south, entering the field from an open area where an old gate had fallen between the fields.
She would be easy enough to kill, this Golden Spurtle. The more we interact, the less likely she is to run, the closer she lets me get, particularly if the dogs are absent. But I’ve come to enjoy our little dances. Even knowing that she would kill a chicken if given a chance, she would only do so as a means of surviving. If I kill her another would quickly fill the void. To me she is another of Nature’s wonderful beasts, and I admire her no less than I do the hawks and herons and other animals which inhabit that eastern pasture. I have no desire to kill her, only to protect my own animals. Perhaps one day I’ll get a sling shot or salt pellets and warn her off. But for now I’ll keep a watchful eye and enjoy all of the nature of the field.