We’ve had lovely, clear nights as the moon waxed into its fullness. On nights like these, the valley lights up in a beautiful, mysterious way. All that is so familiar and predictable, and all that feels so known and safe, slides into something quite different.
I am always conscious of the fact that we have coyotes living in the woods around the farm. They are rarely heard during the daytime, unless a kit wanders too far from the pack, in which case the entire pack takes up a keening call so that the errant kiddo can find its way back to the den. However startling this may be, I find comfort in the sounds of tractors, sheep, and roosters that are also part of daylight soundscape.
On most nights, I rarely hear the coyotes as they prowl the valley and hunt. I know they are there, of course, and am grateful for the spotlights we have put up in strategic spots around the farm so that I can go about night time chores feeling (somewhat) safe.
As the moon reaches her fullness, some ancient instinct leads coyotes to howl in some sort of unified praise of moonlight. It’s a different sound, the kind of sound that sends shivers up my spine even when I’m in the house or barn; all of a sudden, I am conscious of how close really they are!
Before Bowie came to guard the farm, before I had a flock of sheep, I would listen from the comfort of my bed, and somehow manage to drift off into sleep. Not any more. Bowie answers each and every howl with her own bark of warning: you shall not pass this farm’s way. I may be in bed, but sleep is out of the question. I worry about Bowie, a lone guard dog against a pack of hungry coyotes. I worry about my sheep, hoping they have given up their favored sleeping place high up on the pastures for the greater safety of their pole barn. Not even the fact that our fences are secure can reassure me. Sleep is impossible.
And here I am, greeting this sunny day with bleary eyes, in need of a few hours of dark and quiet, and sleep. Bowie lies stretched out by the barn, sleeping off her long hours of patrolling and barking, while I go about farm chores with daydreams of napping at some point.