Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Coyotes woke me up. I don't know why they howl or why the dogs join in, but when they go off, the whole gorge sound like sirens are everywhere. It is not like the wolf howl of old cowboy movies. It's more high pitched, almost a squeak that won't stop...and there are lots of them. They seem to be in groups. Three or four up behind the house, some across the creek, some below us, and some that are really close to the house. I wonder why do the dogs leave them alone if they are that close? There is some kind of truce between them. Or maybe they are afraid of each other. The coyotes and our dometicated yard dogs make a lot of noise at each other but that's it. Even the big rotwiellers over at the neighbors don't mess with the coyotes as far as I know. The coyotes come through the yard and the dogs seem to go where ever they want to in the woods and there don't seem to be any conflicts.

Also, I wonder what the main coyote diet consists of? I hear tall tales of them killing and eating calves but I don't think they actually kill them. I think they take the stillborn ones and that gives rise to the belief. No one has ever seeen them attack a calf around here and there is plenty of opportunity. We've had a good crop this year in the valley. Hamburger is everywhere you look. And as this mornings concert demonstrates, there are lots of coyotes around, so something doesn't work in that accusation. We're down on so some of the birds though. One hard working neighbor has tidied up his 200 acres, cleared the trees, cut the brush, planted hay grass, made everything neat and trimmed, and then says to me, "Something has done got all my quail!" I wonder why it never occurs to folk that there is some connection between wiping out all the places a quail has to hide from a coyote and the sudden reduction of the quail population?

But we are now out of quail here in the valley and no calves have been "killed" now that they have made it through the birthing trauma and I wonder what these things are eating? Deer? I don't think so. We see the momma's and know when the babies are born around here. The deer live amongst us like yard pets. We lose more of them to cars than hunters. The deer die off in spurts with blue tongue disease of something like that but mostly they wander around fine all year. A cold blooded animal might be able to eat voraciously once or twice a year but not a coyote. They're high energy beasts and gotta have fuel all the time. Nope, they're not eating deer, calves, or quail so what is it?

I think the answer is "everything"... Bugs, mice, weeds, and watermelon. Sounds like an old country music hit song, doesn't it? When we screw up the habitat for one animal it provides opportunity for another. If there are no quail out there in the pasture there are certainly plenty of grasshoppers and ground hogs now. I even have a ground hog, or wood chuck if you prefer, living under the cement carport at my office. They are like "Land Beavers" and have taken up residence eveywhere humans mow. I see them in nearly every community DOR (dead on the road) right alongside the possums. They look so fuzzy and cute but that has to be a ruse. They're slow! There ain't no way a nice fat, yard and garden fed, ground hog is going to outrun a coyote. You look at a ground hog's front teeth and you figure he dosn't need those things for chewing off clover blossoms. After a bit of thought over my morning bean juice, I have decided that the old tales about coyotes chewing off their legs to escape steel traps is bull pizzookie just like those tales of them killing calves. You look at the teeth on the business end of a ground hog and you have to figure there is another reason for any coyotes out there running around (running?) on three legs.

(Note to self: Keep a little further away from the Gound hog from now on!)
Well, that was fun. Now I have to moralize or this wouldn't be the Sunday Sermon, would it? Actually there is a pretty big moral in everything I just wrote having to do with unintended consequences and people being pretty much idiots when it comes to recognizing the long term result of their actions. But that isn't the sermon. I am going to have a guest sermonizer today who is much better than me at making the human race out to be morons. Kurt Vonnegut has been making us laugh and cry at ourselves for a long long time. He is an easy read and very entertaining. Let me know what you think.

Here is the teaser:

Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas."

Please read the rest of what he says. He is a wise man.



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