Submitted by Art and Barb Straub
“Hey, Ma, don’t you love me any more?” This inquiry came from the beak of a lone juvenile Canada goose plunked down in the center of the frozen waters of Coachlight Pond. Mid the pond ensconced on a muskrat domicile sat Ilsa, Mother Goose, while Izzy, proud male, coasted close by nodding approvingly. A possibility of three goose nests may be in the offing for Coachlight. Much depends upon the return of the pair of trumpeter swans from spring 2016, swans which disrupted the calm green waters for over a month, with the result of one lone gosling surviving the 30-day incubation period. No reports of tundra swans plopping down on harvested area corn fields as yet, but thirty-eight Trumpeters were obvious in a cornfield near Belle Plaine on March 17th, while a minimum of twelve of the gorgeous birds frequent the former LeSueur sewage treatment ponds on a daily basis.
There’s a sequel to the story of the death of LeFoxxe, the beloved aristocratic gray fox mourned in last week’s Henderson Independent. We know that in addition to gray foxes, coyotes abound in “them thar hills” and upon area prairies. In our many years of trail camera use, the faithful eyes have not caught them in action. Their howls, yips and yowls, especially in springtime, make human valley inhabitants, as well as other wild game aware that they exist. Readers recall from last week’s edition of the Indy, how LeFoxxe came home to die after chewing its right rear leg off escaping from a trap. The very next evening, Cal Coyote appeared on the trail camera. His competitor for rabbits was deceased. Full moon brought coyote in, and the photo that appears in this week’s Indy edition caught Cal baying at the moon! This was a first for us, an unpleasant first. We know that fox and coyotes are not friends, coyotes do not wish to coexist with anyone other than coyotes, and thus they eliminate competitors. Sir Odiferous and his skunk mate have not utilized their arsenal of weapons on Cal as yet, judging from the sweet smell of spring air, however, that day is sure to arrive. Was this wolf relative part of a pack pursuing deer?
The kernel of this article is yet to come. Thursday, March 18th, a trembling shivering shadow of a dog appeared at the front door of a farmstead east of LeSueur. The kind owners of the farm made arrangements for the cold starving animal’s transfer to a veterinarian’s care. The same day, another dog was struck by a vehicle while crossing Hwy #169. Saturday evening, March 18th, a huge orange dog (not belonging to any area neighbor) met its fate near the Wolf Motors Ford Garage. Were the canines buddies in crime? Had they been chasing deer together? Did someone unable to bare the cost of feeding them drop them off? Was it all an unholy coincidence? Are we reading too much into this?
We are reminded of an experience from years ago when we and the world were young. The snow in March that winter was as deep as an elephant’s eyebrows. Woodlands became impassible, snow to one’s waist, and deer, fleeing dog packs, were found partially consumed in the white wasteland.
(Coyotes were rare at the time.) Some strange primedial calling stirred farm dogs, including household pets, to join forces while masters and mistresses slept, and the animals were pursuing deer. Due to the depth of the drifts, we felt helpless against the continuous carnage.
Farmers tethered or penned their dogs at night, yet the killing went on. Finally, a massive ‘dog drive’ was conducted covering an area from the LeSueur radio tower to the Ney property. The culprits were brought down! It seems that a female dog had gone wild, living under an old barn foundation close to Pumpkin Hill. She and her brood were causing the destruction. Her grizzled matted body and long canine teeth will long remain in memory, as she was the last to go to dog heaven. The deer kills ceased. Even today, it’s best that dogs be kept enclosed during March, less the madness of the pack take hold of dog spirits.
Lots of bits and pieces remain. Brenda Kotasek and family counted 284 eagles and 23 eagle nests on their trip to Wabasha, Sunday, March 19th, while Doris winter found the eagles too numerous to monitor. Clusters of common grackles gathered in Henderson/LeSueur same date, with a trickle of robins sprinkled in. Horned larks have begun sauntering across the prairies west of Henderson; the trickle will become a flow this week as they traverse Arctic bound. Sandhill cranes have flung themselves from Nebraska headed this direction; their scouts have already arrived. No telling what the March wind will whisk in during the next few weeks. Stay awake and alert!