Monday, November 09, 2009


Winter is fairly set in here in NW Alberta, Canada, albeit fairly mild still. The temperature is getting above freezing most days, some days almost to +10C even, but a thick snow a couple of weeks back is keeping the feeling of winter around. Today the ground stayed frozen, as did the water which has been melting in the afternoons these past few days. I have been using the tractor to fetch the last of the straw bales from the field so the big tires were hastening melt and causing slush. Well all this was frozen today so there was quite a bit of sliding about even in the big heavy tractor (seen below). Next summer we HAVE to convert an old hay rack to carry these bales because I have spent waaaaay too many hours driving back and forth to the fields, bale at a time, this year. It is quite relaxing actually, but still a waste of time and fuel. Some steel, a welder and a few days work and voila, we'll have a cart that can carry 9 bales. This means 10 bales a trip, instead of 1.

As I have been fetching these bales, I have been given several reminders of what amazing things are often seen when one has no camera in hand. About a month back, a huge coyote was out in the field hunting for mice, as I was fetching hay bales and dad was raking straw for baling. This fellow (assuming it was male) was more bold than any other coyote I have seen (until today). Most would have darted off out of sight completely, whereas this one remained quite near us both for some time. At one point, it was right up on one row of large round bales. He hopped off as I drew near, and moved away.

Then yesterday, as I was coming in with a bale, I met a different (I think) coyote running along the road toward me. She (for some reason I think this one was female) seemed rather surprised to see me and the tractor but instead of running off completely, she just ran back the way she had come...looking back at me and keeping just a few feet in front of me, before finally scooting off the road to one side and curling back in the direction she had been headed. She ended up in the same field as I was, and would remain within feet of the tractor at times. She never did move away to a different field, and was again up on a row of the bales, this time laying down for a nice rest after hunting. She would hop down as I drove right by, but would just stretch and hop back up. As I moved away after the last pass, I looked back to see her still laying comfortable on her soft bed with a view.

I think I saw this one out hunting yesterday as well, in the same general area. The first time I saw her, she was in mid-freeze and I actually got to see her pounce and drive her feet and muzzle into the snow...and come back up with a FAT mouse. She played with the unfortunate morsel a bit before finally giving it a few serious chews, then flipping her head up and swallowing it down. Funnily, as she was frozen and waiting to pounce, she flipped 2 or 3 annoyed glances over at me and my loud tractor as if to say "will you and that racket please piss off and leave me to my meal-finding?".

I saw yet a 3rd coyote today, this one much smaller and with more yellow in its coat. I suspect it was a yearling. I think the population is so high in this immediate area as there is likely a den in the bush of the large pasture that we only use sparingly. I am considering moving 3 or 4 old straw bales out to this pasture to attract mice. This should provide plenty of food for the family of coyotes and keep them from being too interested in our chickens. Seems a good use of old straw to me. Many people would just go wipe the coyotes out but I like them. They are handsome and clever animals which keep down the rodent population. I think it would be better to provide incentive for them to avoid our livestock and to let them live and have some kind of wildness in their life. If they get to be too many, however, or should they start coming at our chickens anyway, it will be .22 target practice time...and perhaps skinning time.

All this monotonous bale fetching leaves plenty of time for thinking, and led me to wondering about trying to convince the County to set up the farmland they bought from us, as a County wildlife sanctuary. I would think such a thing would have nice carbon credit potential (though I despise the necessity for such necessary incentive). I was thinking that a non-profit agrarian organization could be set up to administrate this sanctuary, and wouldn't the family who has been stewarding the land until now be a good candidate for operating said non-profit organization?

This kind of thinking leads, of course, to thinking about all the various things which could then be done with the land. And it leads to thinking about the obstacles...

Obstacles like county bureaucrats with too much power and caught in non-sustainable development paradigms, or like County Councilors from competing districts who will not support anything that doesn't happen in their district. Obstacles like a growing landfill right next door, which generates profit for the County and whose harm to the County is not immediately visible. And obstacles like this being an area which is not yet willing to see peak resources as any kind of threat.

Oh well, I am glad to have the time for this, and the various other thinking that I am getting the chance to do. It certainly seems that a lot of it should be done as significant chaos looms larger and closer on the horizon. So often I find myself wondering how many of the people that I see scurrying about every day, give any thought to what lies beyond the next few days. They're just keeping on keeping on, I guess...but then that is exactly what got us where we are. What angers me, however, is the knowledge that a time is coming, very soon I think, where all these grasshoppers are going to need the fruits of the preparations we ants are making. Their selfish short-sightedness and complicity to brainwashing is going to mean greater suffering even for those who have tried to warn and prepare. I don't hate them for it, at all, but it definitely saddens me...and angers me.

Speaking of short-sighted...just last week I read an article that made this point so clearly. I read that the Canada Pension Plan had invested $11 billion in an Australian toll highway. I couldn't help but comment at the CBC webpage where I read the article, that this seemed a rather stupid gamble to me. This drew a few disparaging comments in return, which shows many Canadian financial types do not see peak oil as any kind of issue. Personally, even if peak oil wasn't an issue, I think privatized infrastructure (like highways) is a BAD thing that I do not want my part of our pension plan to be supporting, whether it will earn a strong immediate return or not. Luckily for anyone still reading, I will not make this post any more boring by explaining my reasoning for this just now! If anyone is interested, however, Max Keiser talks about this very issue in the last 10 minutes of his most recent Truth About Markets radio show. Max can get a little crazy but I really appreciate his ideas about BOTH the private and public sector being necessary, in appropriate balance and scale.

Thankfully, there are so many things in my life again now that are still able to alleviate sadness, heaviness, and/or anger in a moment, or a breath. Like late this afternoon, taking a few steps away from the idling tractor, standing on a low rise, looking off to the west toward the low sun glinting back at me and mixing stunning pinks into the blue of the clouds (all that CO2 certainly makes more stunning sunsets). The slow breeze had backed off and the mild, darkening afternoon forced a grin onto my face. I am glad for all my wandering, but this is most definitely right for me now. Its a looooong way from balanced, but I surely feel that I'm on the right path, even as the world goes to shit.

Peace and comfort to all.


MoonRaven said...

I like hearing about the coyotes. The only time I saw one (I think) was passing me near a suburban supermarket. It could have been a large dog, but it looked like what I think a coyote would look like, was moving faster than any dog I'd seen, and was headed for a patch of woods not far away where people had sometimes spotted coyotes.

Your idea of your former land becoming a wildlife santuary with the former owners administering it sounds like a sweet idea. I hope the County goes for it.

You paint a lovely picture of a sunset. It seems like you are on the right path--may it continue to go well for you. It's not your fault the world is falling apart and you are doing (through your farm work and your blog) what you can to change that--even if it's far from enough. We just need to figure out how to get more people to appreciate the simple, good things that we have and the need to take care of them.

Aimee said...

I like coyotes too. I think they are handsome and clever. We definitely have a pretty good population here but so far no trouble from them eating chickens or baby goats. We hear them yipping quite near in the nightime. During the drought I heard them right outside the window and then I remembered I'd left the kiddie pool full of water. I bet they came to drink it. After that I kept the pool full all the time.

Jerry said...

Thank you both for the comments!