February 26, 2009

Coyotes in the Woods

I have long known the area in which we live has a large and healthy coyote population. There has been many summer nights I have sat on the back porch and listened to the coyotes yip and howl on our farm. In the past their eerie, yet beautiful serenade would come from different directions on different nights. Sometimes their calls were distant and lonely; sometimes they were so close the manic yipping and howling was almost deafening. The sound of the train rumbling past in the distance would set them off to howling on many nights.

This year things have been a little different. I still hear lone coyotes calling from different directions, but their daily group yip, howl has echoed from the same direction and general location all winter. It sounds like the highest level of activity comes from the woods at the back of our property, behind our goat pasture. I was pretty sure by their calls they had set up an area of our woods where lots of ceder trees grow as cover for their home. About half of our farm is in hay meadows and our homestead, the rest is a wildlife heaven of woods and brushy pastures and I like it that way. We do use livestock guardian dogs to protect our goats from coyotes.

The other evening I kept hearing a strange sound, at first I thought it was a bird. The second time I heard the sound, it was clearly not a bird. No, that sounded like puppies. The mewling, whining cry of very young puppies and it sounded like it was coming from the woods behind our goat pastures. Could it be? Coyote puppies? Since coyotes breed in late winter or about the end of January through March, it seems a bit early for coyote puppies. It was still worth a walk through the woods. No pups or coyotes was spotted, but other interesting things was found in the woods on our farm.

It is hard to see in this picture, but this is a deer trail through the woods on our farm.

A well worn animal trail in the woods.It is very hard to see in this picture, but there is an old den at the base & under this old tree.

Probably a coyote den, it doesn't appear active.

A coyote den, there was three holes like this found in close proximity to each other. Dens can have more than one entrance, so it is possible a couple may be entrances to the same den. Looks like from the roughed up dirt it has been used recently. Coyotes will also sometimes take over old groundhog or fox dens and enlarge them for their own use.

Another den entrance, it is larger than it appears in the picture.

Could be a coyote print. I am not sure, it isn't very well defined in this loose soil but it was near one of the dens. Maybe we should look for prints after a rain.

This is a bit of grey hair that was found caught on a low strand of an old barbed wire fence in the woods near the dens. I believe it is likely coyote hair. I wish I had a night vision camera to set up in the woods to try and get some pictures of the wildlife. That would be interesting!


JLB said...

I think I accidently left my comment on the other coyote story :) oops...

Alix said...

What an awesome post! Are you ever frightened by the coyotes? I think I would both enjoy and fear them - especially with all those sweet goat faces around.

So, how ya doin?

Alix said...

What an awesome post! The pictures make it so special. Are you ever frightened by the coyotes? I think I would both enjoy and fear them - especially with all those sweet goat faces around.

So, how ya doin?

Amy said...

Neat Post!

Becky said...

I live in between 2000 acres of woods and a railroad track. Those coyotes can sure make some noise on a warm spring night. I even saw a young yote playing with my golden retriver one night. When I opened the door to call my dog it quickly disappeared back into the woods.
We have a night cam and have never caught a yote on it, crazy huh, they must be camera shy.lol

Stay safe.

Flartus said...

Thanks for the tour! We had deer trails in the woods I grew up "in," but never that well-defined. And no coyotes. I would agree, sounds like you've got an active den there! I'm so glad you've found a way to co-exist with them.

Christy said...

I hear the coyotes around here all the time and it scares me for the animals I plan to get soon. I'm looking for a donkey for a guard animal.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

JLB - I saw it, thanks for leaving a comment.

Alix- I am doing alright! Looking forward to Spring, it is just around the corner! No, I am not frightened of the coyotes. I do have concern for my goats of course, but I also have faith in my livestock guardian dogs. I also take precautions such as bringing the does up close to the house during kidding season, etc.

Amy - Thank you!

Becky - Thanks! I would love to have so much woodland around me. The coyotes are a concern and I will certainly do all that I can to keep my goats safe, but they still make better neighbors than some people. LOL!

Flartus - Thank you. I am no expert by any means, but that is what I think too.

Christy - I think that is a good idea! I really feel like a good guardian animal, whether you prefer llamas, donkeys or dogs is a must have for pastured sheep and goat herds.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I love all wildlife but sure would be a contrast of peaceful homesteading and eerie coyote calls.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

oh, and the marans.
Wheatens - we paid high dollar for the original quad, Mike drove to Florida to get 'em.
Cuckoo's - http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/
They have the best Cuckoo's, the birds are dark and the eggs are dark.

To read up on Marans - http://bevsmarans.com/
Bev Davis is the Marans guru.

Lisa said...

Hi, my name is Lisa, i am new to reading your blog. I like it! I felt compelled to post here :) Dave and I are working (and working and working) on our "dream home" up in the mountains. We are building it as green as we can and off grid and hope that we can maintain a sustainable lifestyle someday up there. Anyway this post reminded me of a yucky coyote experience we had last year! They advanced towards us even with our great danes freaking out in the porch!! crazy bold.
Anyway I look forward to reading more and learning more about your family .


Mom L said...

Another thing I love about reading special blogs - the education I get! I've glimpsed coyotes over the years on camping trips or vacations, but have never lived among them. Well, do night-time sirens count? Or fireworks in the middle of the night?

OK - leading up to my comment, er, confession - I did not know coyotes denned in the ground!!!

Thanks for sharing the information...

Nancy in Atlanta

Lynda said...

How lucky you are to have such magnificent creatures living so close to you ! Of course we don't get Coyotes here in Africa, but I would love to see one in it's natural habitat one day ....

amanadoo said...

Hey there! I just wanted to stop by here and say thank you for the comments. That NAIS post of mine got more traffic than anything else I have ever written, which is really great. Especially as it pertains to people who don't necessarily think about where their food comes from. I was very happy to have friends asking all kinds of questions about it.

This is the first time I've been here; excellent blog! If you don't mind, I'd like to add it to my blogroll. Keep the great posts coming!

~~~~~~Tonia said...

Our old place had Coyotes all around. There was 200 acres across the road that didnt ever have many people on it so was basically a wild life paradise. We would see them from time to time. The full moon would bring them out in full force but with the neighbor's LGD and the other neighbor's Collie they kept them at bay and we didnt have trouble with them getting into livestock. As long as they left my animals alone I left them alone..
They aren't near the threat that stray dogs are!! Those buggers are BOLD!! I will usually shoot at a stray and ask later. To many bad experiences with them!

Mama said...

Wow that was a cool post,what an adventure;)I have woodsy areas and love to walk softly thru to see what's going on..Love the pics too!

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Joanna - Thank you so much for the information and links!

Lisa - Thank you for visiting my blog. I took a peek at yours too. I will leave a comment today when I have more time to read more of it. You have a nice blog! You are up in the northeast aren't you? Seems like I read somewhere the coyotes are larger up there than they are here. From what I have read it certainly sounds like they are more bold up there.

Nancy - Thank you!

Lynda - Thank you! If you can handle the predators in Africa, I think I can handle the coyotes here. :)

Amanadoo - Thank you, and of course that is alright!

Tonia - I hear ya on that! Stray dogs (or ones inconsiderate neighbors just let run loose) are 100 times worse than any wild predator. So far in all the years we have had livestock guardian dogs, the coyotes don't challenge them. I would think only a desperate one, or a pack would, but those stray dogs sure will!

Mama - Thank you!

Alix said...

Hey girl. Just wanted to tell you that I had a lot of trouble posting my comment on your blog last night. I must have tried six times before giving up defeated. I just came back to try again and I see two of my attempts DID post. Now I look like an idiot. (What else is freaking new.)

Lanny said...

We have a lot of coyote damage now that we no longer have our miniture donkey, for some reason he never challenged our herding dogs. My husband shears sheep around two counties and has strong feelings about gaurdian dogs and llamas, so we are limited in our defense. We also have nearly the same trouble with bald eagles but they only bother very young lambs, where as our coyotes have taken down a full grown Suffolk ram. Your walk in the woods was delightful.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

I am so sorry you had problems Alix. Blogger has been pretty buggy lately. I had troubles the other day even being able to view blogs. I do have comment moderation on, not to moderate or censor comments but to stop spam, especially now that I got rid of the word verification when it was causing so many people problems on their blogs. Nobody that writes a blog as funny and well written as yours could ever look like an idiot. :)

Thank you Lanny! I have not seen any eagles around, but we have lots of hawks. I would like to be able to get some chickens and let them free range, but I just know if I did the hawks would make short work of them.

KathyB. said...

The coyotes are an animal that intrigue me, even though they have cost me dearly in poultry and lamb loss.There is so much about them I admire, and then I am so mad they are so bold and smart..and just why does the appearance of a pack of coyotes turn my outside dogs into silent hiders? Thank-you for the walk in the woods.

Mountain Woman said...

That was really interesting seeing all the pictures and learning more about coyotes. I wonder if they are down there with babies? I'm off to read your other coyote posts.