Cackling Coyotes

It was Sunday evening. I was trying to get a bit of work done on each of my projects before i started a new work week at 1 am. Thus is the schedule of a healthcare practitioner/homesteader. One must be awake at all times to fit in all the things that must be done. Strewn across my little tv tray table were fabric scraps and threads of various colors for the eyes and lips of the cloth dolls i was making for my friend’s daughters. Up on the computer was a word document containing the half edited version of my next book. In the kitchen was a stack of new bedding that needed to be put on once the discount mattress fully recovered from its vacuum sealed state of hibernation. In my lap sat a notebook where i tried to write my own representation of the pronunciation of each word the voice coming from the language app on my phone spoke quickly and repeated only once. As i fumed in my chair that the teacher would not repeat the word but once after it first hit the student’s ears both dogs sat ramrod straight and i turned my head as i realized what i was listening to. Coyotes. Very loud. I.E. very close. I thought to myself, “Did i put the door on the chicken coop?” I didn’t. As the realization set in many other voices answered the first one and i realized the whole pack was here. A whole pack of coyotes could probably get into chicken fort Knox if hungry and motivated enough. I wondered if Daisy would do her usual thing and come out of the coop to puff herself up and stare at the would-be marauder. I realized the best thing to do would be to put the door on the chicken coop and just eliminate any possibility of enticement. If they couldn’t see the chickens they would likely move on to a visible target like the neighbor’s sheep or a deer. I stepped into my shoes. As i did this Cashew stood up. Her body posture screamed, “all right! We’re doing this! i’m right behind you mom!” I frowned and whispered, “No, you stay here.” I motioned for both dogs to get to the back of the house with my hand. I really should have taken the time to put on the holster with my machete in it. But i didn’t. I knew from the volume that if they hadn’t crossed the access road onto my property they would within 30 seconds. I had to go quick. As i quietly pulled the door closed but not clicked i scanned the treeline for the big dog-like creatures with yellow eyes. I didn’t see any but the howling and yipping was loud enough for them to be in the woods on our property now. I made it to the chicken pen and realized i had a problem. The latch to the pen was extremely loud and to open the door would mean metal on metal noises followed by screeching as the door to the pen opened. I decided i’d probably fare better in the pen with the chickens than out of the pen with coyotes so i hurried up and opened it. The second i pulled the latch up all the noise that the coyotes were making stopped. My stomach dropped. As i slid the door down the metal track on the front of the coop i was surrounded by an eerie silence. They had definitely heard me. Now they were focused on where the noise was coming from. They’d be here soon and if i intended to stay in the chicken pen i should have clicked the front door to the house. As i left it, if one pushed on it the door would open. I knew i had to hurry up and finish…get back to the house. I didn’t even check if all 6 chickens were in the coop. I just hoped. I let myself out of the pen and fumbled with the lock that threaded through both holes to keep the door secure against coons. When i turned around i had a split second to wonder if it was too late to run…if i should walk steadily but slowly to avoid acting like prey…. As my eyes flicked in the direction of the trees in front of the access road; there it was. For all intensive purposes it looked like a big dog, if dogs had piercing yellow eyes. It was standing in front of the cedars, looking at me. I walked swiftly and steadily to the porch. Its head followed me as i moved. I climbed up the steps, pushed hard against the front door, and closed it quickly behind me. Sili and Cashew were waiting on the other side. They sniffed me. Cashew wagged her tail. Outside, the silence erupted into a hysteria of cackling. They sounded like neurotic hyenas. I’d never heard them make this noise. It wasn’t howling or yipping. It was straight up cackling, like evil laughter. Now that the door was on the chicken coop and the pen was locked i didnt look to see who joined who. I left the curtains closed as a barrier between my two worlds. After they’d had their little dance party they quieted down. I assumed they’d left. Even so, i wasn’t going to filter any more water at the well house spigot before sunrise.

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