One morning last week, I was just settling in to read a book or twenty to Charlotte when I heard a cacophony of desperate clucks in the backyard.
“Wait here,” I told Charlotte. “I’ll be right back, I just want to make sure the neighbor’s dog isn’t hassling the chickens again.”
And I grabbed the baby.
And I went outside.
And I walked toward the backyard.
And at the very same moment that I realized that my birds were being attacked by coyotes, I heard a very deep growl behind me.
Slowly, cautiously, I turned around and came face to snout with a large, young male coyote. He was lean and dusty and his teeth were bared. He stood between me and my open kitchen door, the door that lead to the house where my three-year-old was lying sick in bed waiting for me to read to her, and time.stood.still.
I was suddenly acutely aware of my surroundings. I felt Evelyn shifting her weight toward me, tensing her body, and it dawned on me that to the coyote in front of me, she was seventeen pounds of delicious. My mind felt like it was processing every possible option at the speed of light – could I stuff the baby in the tree? were there any rocks for me to throw? would shouting for help put Charlotte in greater danger because she might come to see what all the noise was about?
Two seconds later, one of the smaller coyotes nipped at the large coyote’s tail as it loped past. The large coyote stood silent for a moment, looking at me, then turned and trotted away. In no time at all, they were gone.
I ran inside, shut the door, then rushed back to the bedroom to check on Charlotte, and came pretty fucking close to melting into tears of relief on the spot.
“I want to read the pirate book,” she told me. So we did. We read the pirate book. We read and my heart slowed and I thanked the heavens for my daughters, for these moments, for our lives and our health and our lack of coyote mauling.
A few hours later, the coyotes came back.
This time I was ready for them. I set the baby in the bouncer and I locked my daughters in the bedroom so that the coyotes could not, under any circumstances, reach them. I dialed 9-1-1 so that if I were injured all I needed to do was press the call button. Then I looked around for something to throw at the coyotes to scare them off.
The nearest thing was a package of cookies left behind by some relatives after a family gathering the weekend prior. So I grabbed the package of cookies, took two steps outside, closed the door behind me, and chucked the sweets at the nearest coyote.
That wimpy little Nabisco package got the job done. It hit the coyote right above its back and all three of the flea-ridden suckers took off. And none too soon because as soon as the package hit the coyote, all of the cookies inside went flying. And as soon as the cookies went flying, every chicken in my yard went off of predator mode and into FREE FOOD! mode. They started running toward the cookies before the coyotes were even out of the yard.
So in summary: unless you want a heart attack, do not ever walk into the middle of a pack of hungry coyotes with a baby on your hip. And also, chickens are dumb. The end.