Remember Chester?

Remember Chester?  Our Thanksgiving Turkey?  Well, he had a stay of execution.  Mostly because he wasn’t from the grocery store and a certain upper echelon patriarchal family member requested a turkey injected with butter and wrapped in cellophane be prepared for the traditional meal, and partly because we never found the time to fix him.

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Chester, with his outdoorsy nature, lack of plastic wrap and buttered coating, was not eaten.  He became a third watchdog on our farm, roosting atop an eight inch diameter wooden post taller than the topper on the truck.  Any time the dogs barked, day or night, Chester gobbled.  He, despite his annoyingly testosterone-filled nature, puffing and poofing and African drumming his way throughout the day, dangling his blood colored chin rubies and chameleon-like nose booger…not to mention the wirey Brillo pad look alike that poked out of his chest feathers a few months ago prompting me to thrice attempt to tackle him (unsuccessfully) just so I could feel it, was a fierce protector.  Get near his flock of one female turkey and several chickens and he would do his best to scare you away.  I had recently made the announcement to all hearing ears in my family, that I thought Chester should stay.  I don’t like turkey much anyway.  We might as well keep him for a mascot.

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That leads me up to today.  Well, actually yesterday, when kidding season began.  Bell, one of our 8 pregnant does, gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.  We are bottle feeding them, so it’s as if we have newborn humans again.  Feed every four hours.  That includes 3 am when its cold, dark and…cold…outside and you’d rather be sleeping.  But, no, as dutiful goat farmers, we dragged ourselves outside, Herbert to feed the babies and I into the chilly, starry night to milk Bell.  In the dark (and did I mention, cold?).

True to form, the two watchdogs ran to the fence (they live in the pen with the goats, protecting the herd) and Chester, perched on his pole, puffed and gobbled.  I milked and shivered back to bed as instantly as possible.

Fast forward through what little night was left to this morning.  Herbert went out to feed the animals.  He couldn’t find Chester.  Suspicious, I began sleuthing for clues.  Quickly, I noticed the Chester colored pile of feathers next to the garden.  Scanning the pasture, a a Chester sized lump came into view.  With a coyote basking in the distance.

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Now, I have a question:  What would you do if a coyote killed one of your farm members?

Seriously.  Please answer.

As you know, I grew up a city girl.  I have only recently crossed party lines and become officially a farmer.  So, when I saw that coyote this morning, a mixed rush of thoughts flooded my mind:

  1.  KILL THAT S.O.B.
  2. Wow!  What a beautiful coat it has!
  3. This is why farmers and ranchers are blamed for reducing the wolf population to near extinction in some places.
  4. We can’t kill it, we’ll be just another one of those farmers contributing to the reduction of native species.
  5. KILL THAT S.O.B.
  6. What would my friends at the zoo think?
  7. How would my live-in-harmony-with-the-planet friends react?
  8. This is my new reality.
  9. Damn.
  10. Thank goodness Herbert made a safe, locked, fully enclosed nursery for the one day old twins.
  11. Now, what are we going to do?

I found myself slipping quickly across the spectrum of priorities, judging people who might say, “Oh, no!  Don’t kill it!  It is just doing what its natural instinct tells it to do!  You’re the one in its territory!”, to siding with my gut feeling that this Coyote just messed with the wrong farmer.  “You take one of my family, you’re done.  You, Coyote, just trespassed into MY territory and my natural instinct tells me to make sure YOU never happen again.”

Here are some responses from Facebook regarding the question: “What would you do if a coyote killed one of your farm members?”:

 “Take him down- our farm animals are family”
“Shoot it. We think we have a den near us we see them going back to the same area in the mornings. Our Pyrenees keeps them away but we are prepared to get them if they cross the fence.”
“Shoot it”
I would fortify the poultry yard and evaluate the flock to make sure you have an adequate population size to sustain losses to local wildlife and still ensure a good breeding program and meat/egg supply”
“Not an endangered species – shoot it.”
“Shoot it”
It’s part of nature. Do you think it should starve itself? Have you tried talking things through with it?”
“I might drop an Acme Anvil on it.”
What do you answer?  Please, continue the discussion.
–  The Goat Cheese Lady
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About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. At first I was a city girl. Then I was an urban farmgirl, attempting to balance city and farm life. Now, after moving to the country, I have embarked on life as a rural farmgirl, complete with my husband, the Animal Whisperer, man of exceptional knowledge and patience, two boys who are louder than my sister and I ever were, a herd of milking goats, and a flock of egg-laying chickens. Coyotes, mice, country dogs and prairie dogs are frequent visitors. Just 45 minutes north is Colorado Springs, the setting for our first six years in the goat world. Our family. Our city friends. Our introduction to cheesemaking. But we...and our growing farm and soon-to-be creamery...have set up shop down off of Highway 115 in Penrose, Colorado.
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21 Responses to Remember Chester?

  1. Susie Frazee says:

    As awful as it is to lose a pet I have to side with the coyote who is just following his nature. Wild animals take opportunity when it is there. He helps keep the balance of nature going when man has interfered. It is up to us to protect our domestic animals and selves.

    • Thanks, Susie. I respect your opinion. Just this morning, our Livestock Guardian Dog (remember Montanya?) chased the coyote off again. The coyote was five feet from the goat pen. Montanya did just as he was bred to do…protected the herd! Lindsey

  2. Barbara Simpson says:

    We wouldn’t go looking for and killing coyotes, however, when they enter the yard and kill our animals it makes them fair game and the hunt is on. I’m sorry about the turkey and I’m glad that the goats are safe.

  3. Sandy Beach says:

    This is where the “3 S” system needs to be activated – shoot, shovel, and shut up. No discussing it. With anyone. Also works with a pack of dogs that kill livestock. Country life can be harsh sometimes. Coyotes always go for easy meals. And they always come back for more. You did the right thing by shooting it. You did the wrong thing by saying anything.

  4. Becky Elder says:

    This is more than a conversation online, Lindsey. What happened to you and your ensuing struggle for the right path, is happening globally. We are crowding out the indigenous species, slowly but surely… I grew up in Kansas – Coyote-killing-territory. Once the ranchers “over-harvested” the coyotes… next thing we knew – Rabbits! – everywhere! Those population-exploding rabbits killed a huge amount of the trees and understory plants as they starved themselves back into a survivable balance, while trashing the environment. Predators keep the balance. Turkeys, and there are lots of wild turkeys down in your neck of the woods, are a regular item on the coyote menu. Yes, you lost a friend, but such is the way of nature and the issue of domestication vs wild. We will never have a perfect answer, but I am pleading for the life the coyote. This time of year they are gathering for the coming of pups… I feel certain coyotes are struggling to live most anywhere these days. Forgive the coyotes. Enjoy the coyotes.

  5. Jann says:

    After more thought. Protecting Home and hearth is most important. Dispatch him/her to the next life. Raise your walls and protection so the next predator can not get the opportunity

  6. Red McDonald says:

    I would shoot and kill the animal that took your livelihood. Then I would pee in bottles and mark your territory. Then build a perimeter fence for your LGDs to protect your farm. More pee to remind others where your territory lies. Killing that coyote won’t protect your farm. Another one will simply move in and take it’s place. I’d probably kill for revenge, but it won’t solve anything. You need to deter it from coming on your property.

  7. Julie says:

    Lindsey, I’m s sorry hear you lost Chester. I have a friend who lives near Cahan and he has Abkash dogs. He has two because they work better in pairs. One day there were coyotes pacing his fence. One decided to jump and go after the goats. Before the coyote got to the goat he was taken down by one of the dogs. He broke the coyote’s neck. Needless to say the other coyote walked off.

    • Julie, Wow. One of our dogs is a St. Bernard Anatolian Shepard cross. The Anatolian is bred to protect livestock. At our old farm, he tackled a bear! Unfortunately, our entire property isn’t fenced to keep him in, so he lives with the goats, who we most need him to protect. Chester was not in the goat pen, making the dogs unable to protect him. I think we need a better perimeter fence so they can roam the whole property. Lindsey

  8. Jann Faust says:

    I’m on the fence with you. I hate to kill any wildlife but if it was one of my dogs “hell hath no fury …”

  9. florasforum says:

    We had this happen in the city once with our chickens. I forgot to secure them one night and I found my favorite egg-layer, an Araucana, dead (headless, quite gruesome!) in the pen first thing in the morning. It was my fault. Sounds like you might have been distracted with the new kids (congrats on that part of the story!). I’d hate to kill a coyote if she was just looking for a meal (maybe pregnant too?) and one was right there, unprotected and unsecured. It happens. My feeling is that one death shouldn’t be cause for bringing out the guns, but then I’m a city girl.

  10. Jen Dionisio says:

    As a fellow goat/poultry farmer /hoarder we are finding ourselves in this same situation. If our wonderful LGD took care of the problem for us then there would be no question. Alas they have not.
    This being said my young daughters dachshund was the latest victim of the pack of coyotes we have trolling around. I have now declared war.
    I look at the fact that if they now move to the goats then it will start effecting our livelihood…………..
    Maybe for kindness sake pop off a few shots at him and give him a “fair warning” he is in unwelcome territory.

  11. akinassacres says:

    I would shoot it. Just think the cost of the turkey and feed and meat he just got.

  12. Ann Cott says:

    So sad about Chester and yet a tough question about the Coyote. What a dilema.

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