From Where I Sit – Living on the Wild Side

You don’t have to frequent Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue or Calgary’s Red Mile to live the wild life. In fact, you don’t even have to live in a big city. You can live on my farm one short hour northeast of Edmonton.

I’m not sure what exactly is going on but my encounters with wildlife seem to be increasing both in species and frequency. Just now, as I moved through my office in search of something, my peripheral vision caught sight of movement outside. A double-take confirmed my eyes weren’t tricking me. Marching up the sidewalk to the house, bold as can be in broad daylight, was a skunk. A skunk. From the relative safety of a half-opened screen door I yelled at it. Luckily for our pregnant farm cat and me it turned and hurried away–scentlessly–to hide under the Buick and then scurry between the garage and our storage container, off to the outer reaches of the yard I guess. We try not to be careless with dry cat food because we know it can attract pests like magpies and skunks, so what gives?

This winter we found moose droppings 25 feet from the house. We know the moose criss-cross our farm, but in our backyard? Please. Deer in groups as large as eight or nine meander through the yard morning, noon, and night. they’re cute and seem so benign until they start eating my flowers or the hay bales across the road. Usually, tapping on the window is enough to scare the daylights out of them. Sometimes we try to capture them on film.

I encountered a fox at the edge of the patio one day and again near a flower bed one evening months later. I know we have coyotes nearby because of the evening serenade. When we had cattle and young calves, the coyotes patrolled the perimeter of the corrals looking for the chance to snatch a weak or sick newborn. Several years ago our little house dog Buddy was mauled by a coyote. Thankfully he survived with the care of a vet.

We have all manner of birds in our yard, some more desirable than others. We could do without the swallows, magpies, and woodpeckers. The hummingbirds, chickadees, finches, and redpolls are welcome to visit our feeders, trees, and lives.

My worst experience had to be the day a porcupine pushed past a flowerpot at the back door to get into the house and scared the crap out of me. I shrieked and shrieked until somehow it got back outside without leaving a single quill in my legs or falling down the stairs. I still cringe when I think how much worse it could’ve been.

I don’t know if It’s because we don’t have a big farm dog or if there’s not much human activity outside when Roy’s away, but I’m not that impressed with some of our four-legged visitors. Mind you, I guess they’re preferable to some of the two-legged variety, from where I sit.