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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Monday, April 30, 2012

Desert life

Maurice and fam have been coming to the feeder on the side of our driveway. Babies are growing-- Buddha flushed a roadrunner the other day and I saw him again this morning on our walk running quickly down the road! (beep-beep) Haven't broken down and gotten roadrunner food yet. Keeping up with the white-winged doves and quail is expensive enough!

We have a King Snake who arrived about five days ago. He slithered away when he saw me but was here again yesterday afternoon--curled up next to the house. I like having him around because King Snakes kill rattlers and so I will psychically encourage him to stick around! Quite beautiful, really.

Last night the coyotes came by. I had been watching a movie on my computer and so hadn't noticed that the cat had snuck out the slider. Not only that but she's figured out how to get out of our completely enclosed back yard! Buddha was also nowhere to be seen. I wouldn't have been so worried except there was an eerie howl from a lone coyote VERY close to the house. I have never heard a sound like the one he made. It made the hair on my arms stand up! I started screaming for Buddha at the top of my lungs sure that he was being attacked at that very moment--well, here he comes from inside the house, eyes bleary and a look on his face as though to say, "What's the big deal?" Why he doesn't bark when he hears coyotes is completely beyond me--maybe he knows instinctively they are nothing to tangle with.

Meanwhile my neighbor must have heard my shouting and turned on his floodlights...coyote was gone by this time so I got a flashlight and searched for the cat since I had already exhausted all of her hiding places in the house. She was right next to the wall, on the OUTSIDE, looking up at me with wide eyes. "Come on, kitty," I crooned, moving toward her. "If you don't come in you're going to be eaten." As soon as I was close enough to grab her she turned and skittered away under some prickly brush. A most stubborn animal.  In the midst of all of this my other neighbor with the Doberman female came by. "You know why you don't see any animals loose, don't you?" she asked. I nodded.

I left one of the gates to the yard propped open for Minnie, locked the doors and went to bed. An hour or so later I could here the coyotes again and ran to call her--no response. I finally had to give it up and let fate take over. With the help of some muscle relaxants I was finally able to drift off.

She arrived at the slider a little before six a.m. I let her in, closed the door and went back to bed. I didn't get up until seven which these days is late for me...sun was already high above the mountain.. I'm not sure how to handle this--shall I only let her out when I'm in the back yard so she doesn't do her disappearing act or should I try and turn her into a house cat? I hate keeping doors closed all the time and unless this becomes my practice I'm sure last night's scenario will repeat...

 Our laid back, fat and placid cat has become an escape artist, caught a Canyon Wren and released it in the house and spent two entire nights outside. Her younger more wild days have resurfaced! And by the way, I caught the wren, a young one, and released him unharmed.


  1. Cats are notoriously hard to keep in an enclosure. There are some special fences and/or plans you can easily find on line, but they are pretty involved, and imo make a yard feel like a prison. I am often concerned for the birds. Lots of birders say cats should never be allowed outside. But, my cats are so much more alive when they can go out. They're pretty old and don't do much anymore, though they have killed birds before. I live in town and don't have any threatened birds here, and I've started keeping an eye out for where the birds' nests are and discouraging the cats from getting near them. Harder to protect the frogs and toads, though seems often as not I get the cats to drop them and escort the frog out the door, where it hops away looking just fine. As for predators, we have plenty. My cats are pretty smart, but I do keep them in after their dinner.

  2. thanks for your comment, Rachel--I doubt that Minnie will kill a bird at her advanced age but she likes to hang out and threaten them...as far as keeping her in, I decided I can't do it. I will, however try to keep her in the enclosed back yard and keep an eye on her and not let her out at night...(good luck, right?)

  3. Okay, so king snakes kill rattlers. What do they do to humans?

  4. nothing as far as I know...they dine on other snakes, lizards and bird eggs...nonvenomous they kill by constriction...