living in the midst of a menagerie

HOLY CATS! I love that there are so many visable signs of nature where I live! Cool animals sighting over the past couple of weeks since last I wrote, though none of them were as cool, or as close to me as the bear:
  • TSO, S and I were driving into town, heading towards the highway, when what should run in front of my car? A BOBCAT! I was surprised at how small it was--about the size of a small dog. But still very cool! Some facts I gathered here:
    Type: Mammal
    Diet: Carnivore
    Average lifespan in the wild: 10 to 12 years
    Size: Head and body, 26 to 41 in (66 to 104 cm); Tail, 4 to 7 in (10 to 18 cm)
    Weight: 11 to 30 lbs (5 to 14 kg)
    Did you know? The bobcat is the most abundant wildcat in the U.S. and has the greatest range of all native North American cats.
  • I had just turned onto the Farm's road from the state highway the other day when what should I see running across one of our fields? A RED FOX, not to be confused with Redd Foxx--because that would be weird! Some facts I gathered here:
    Type: Mammal
    Diet: Omnivore
    Average lifespan in the wild: 2 to 4 years
    Size: Head and body, 18 to 33.75 in (46 to 86 cm); Tail, 12 to 21.75 in (30.5 to 55.5 cm)
    Weight: 6.5 to 24 lbs (3 to 11 kg)
  • The other night S and I were again in the car when what should run in front of us? A COYOTE! Some facts I gathered here:
    Type: Mammal
    Diet: Omnivore
    Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 14 years
    Size: Head and body, 32 to 37 in (81 to 94 cm); Tail, 16 in (41 cm)
    Weight: 20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg)
    Group name: Pack
    Did you know? Coyotes are very good swimmers. In areas of the northeast United States, where coyotes have migrated since the 20th century, the animals have colonized the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts.

This last sighting is a good segue into last nights nature call. I was laying on my bed doing a crossword puzzle when the Farms' (I say that as though they belong to us!) coyotes began to wail. I have noticed that there is a pattern to their hunting noises and last night was no different, the coyotes were just louder than normal. First the coyotes begin to call to each other--that slow mournful cry--after the first scent of prey had danced across a breeze and found a nose. Announcing a meal, gathering support for the kill. The sole mournful howl has become louder, ferocious, winding up into a wailing scream; frenzied hunger; a call to attack and ensure food. Then the loudest screams, scrambling howls, something akin to barking among the coyotes, noises as they advance on their prey. What follows is silence. The silence that comes with full mouths from a triumphant hunt, too stuffed to make any noises; heads bent low over their dinner.

I am going to miss the coyote noises at night. TSO, Rugby Girl and I applied for and were granted our own house on the Farm--the former home of our good friend Mummy and her family. I currently share a house with 4 other people, connected to a house which also has another 2 people--so this is a MOST WELCOME change! Moving into the new house will mean that I will be further into the heart of the Farm campus, farther away from the night sounds that float up to me from beyond the barns. I will miss the coyote sounds, frightening as they might be. I have grown to strain my ears to hear them, finding some kind of comfort in their sounds.

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