Sleepless in the Country – Part 1

By Beth Watkins

Because we live at the end of a dirt road, we are forced to adopt people’s unwanted pets. Currently we have a medium sized black and white dog called Blue. I gave her that name because when she first came around she seemed very blue. She kept her tail between her legs and her head down. She most generally stayed curled up in the front yard. I had seen her walking down the road toward a neighbor’s house a few times, so I begged Gdubb not to feed her, let someone else claim her.

One day I came home and she was sleeping next to the garage, and for a week it seemed, she stayed right there. Well, of course she stayed right there, because that’s where my soft-hearted husband had placed her new food bowl. It wasn’t long until our old lab, Tootsie, had invited her to the back porch, which was about the same time Biscuit, our barn kitty, felt comfortable enough to bring up her newest two kittens to the back porch. 

Blue is a real sweetheart, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to separate themselves from this little lady, she doesn’t dig, and she doesn’t chase cows, were my first impressions. Since Blue has fallen in love with the other occupants in her life, she has switched gears from sweet mild-mannered lady to aggressive protector, either that or she is afraid of the dark. At night, she barks at any little sound, and that is possibly the reason someone kicked her out of their life.

I’m trying very hard to appreciate her tenacity, because I actually caught Blue protecting the kittens. The coyote came up on the back porch trying to get the kittens and Blue came to the rescue and attacked. She then chased the coyote through our yard. The coyote saved itself by jumping on top of a round hay bale. It seemed Blue was going to hold that coyote there, so I ran to get a gun, while calling Gdubb on the phone to tell him what just happened and that I was about to shoot a coyote from our bathroom window. He laughed and then got real serious in his instructions, “Do not shoot out of the bathroom window. I can’t picture you having a clean shot with my tractors and feed truck between the house and the hay.” I assured him I had a straight shot, but I could tell he meant business when he told me to shut the blinds and step away from the window. I think he has silently regretted not letting me take the shot because night after night our sleep is interrupted with Blue’s barking. She must smell a coyote nearby.

One night I heard Blue relentlessly barking outside our bathroom window, while my Romeo appeared to be resting comfortably in a blissful sleep so I got up to check on the situation. It was not a coyote that was causing the disturbance. Blue was standing there barking and wagging her tail: she was talking to another dog a half mile down the road. I remember grumbling on my way back to bed, I have a straight shot now….

In the midst of our coyote nightmare, some friends of ours came for a weekend visit. As we were all getting ready to call it an evening and head to bed, I felt I should apologize ahead of time in case Blue disrupted their sleep. With the morning sun, I was relieved to find that Blue had a quiet night and our guests slept well. We were not so lucky the next night.

Blue began her call of duty around 2 a.m. Gdubb grabbed his spot light and disappeared out the door to check cows. The rest of the evening was fairly quiet until about 4:00 a.m. That’s when the barking began, and it seemed like Blue was chasing something around the yard. Gdubb jumped up. I listened to his footsteps and could tell he went straight to the bathroom window. He must have spotted the coyote because I could tell his hurried footsteps took him straight to the gun cabinet. The next sound was a bolt engaging. Then sure footsteps headed back to the bathroom and the window blinds made a zipping sound as they flew up the cord. The opening of the window followed. I stuck my fingers in my ears and hoped that our guests were heavy sleepers. Thankfully we didn’t have to find out, because as quick as the barking started, it stopped and Blue was spotted, tail wagging coming back to the house.

My momma called and asked me what we were doing this weekend, I told her Gdubb had just left to try to call up a coyote and I was doing laundry and had just found a new recipe for chicken and dumplings made in the crockpot. A friend of mine makes hers that way with canned biscuits. (Silence on the other end of the phone) “Have you ever made chicken and dumplings like that?” (Still silence, making me nervous, so I began to ramble) Of course I feel lazy using canned biscuits; Granny would roll over in her grave if she knew I was using canned biscuits, but it’s worth a shot, right? Mom! Are you still there?” Momma then answered, “I’m sorry hon, I’m just trying to figure out how and why George is calling a coyote!”

I went on to explain to momma that we have a coyote problem. We lost a calf to a coyote, and it is probably sniffing around for more. Gdubb has borrowed a coyote call: it’s a small megaphone looking gadget that makes sounds like mice. He strategically hides the call then sits and waits, armed and ready. 

As I hung up the phone, I realized, the phrase “calling up a coyote” just flowed out of my mouth in casual conversation. I think the process of transformation from city girl to country girl has completed its cycle.

Read more in the March issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.