Wyatt vs the Wolves

*disclaimer: graphic images

Total "Peter and the Wolf" soundtrack moment... I'm expecting Scut Farcus to show up at any moment

A lone wolf caught on our game cam last May

Yesterday morning, one of my biggest farm fears was realized.

I was awoken with a call from the front door, “Katy, get up, something’s happened to Wyatt.”

Clay had gone out to start his truck for work and found Wyatt at the end of the driveway, stumbling and bleeding. Help Dad look on his face. His eyes were glazed over, he was shaking violently, had a large gash on his shoulder and puncture type wound on his back/neck area. I looked him over, noted he wasn’t actively bleeding although there was blood, quickly wrapped him in a towel and my husband rushed him to the vet clinic in town, 20 minutes away. At first we couldn’t figure out what had happened. Was it a neighbor dog fight? (no… Wyatt would have won that). Did he get down to his number one arch nemeses, the horses? Coyotes? What had happened to my old man as he did his morning business? He had only been outside for 15-20 minutes.

After calling the vet clinic to give the heads up, I bundled up, grabbed my .243 and headed out to follow Wyatt’s blood trail to get a better idea on what might have happened. I followed it to the near by woods, lost it and decided to head to the corrals to see if he had taken any paths leading to the horses. Sake, our cat, decided to accompany me on this short walk and I was grateful for it. Something just didn’t feel right.

I received a text from Clay saying that Wyatt was in surgery getting stitched up and the vet stated it was an attack, multiple assailants. In that very moment, I was surrounded by the sound. The undeniable sound of a wolf howl. Multiple wolf howls – two above me and one below. I took one look at Sake and we booked it for home. I texted back with alarm “Could it have been wolves?”

“Definitely coyotes,” was the reply I received. “My Conservation Officer (CO) buddy said that if it was wolves, he wouldn’t have come back.”

After ensuring the chickens were safe and that Maynard was by my side, I heard it again. A lone howl this time, calling, calling. It was coming from our upper field. I sat and listened on the back deck for 5 minutes or so.

I called our CO friend immediately.

Once again, it was unlikely it was a wolf attack because lets face it, what dog makes it out alive. But he did mention it was weird that I thought I was hearing a wolf as he didn’t believe in coincidences. He called his father (a retired CO) to come out and told me he’d be on his way later. At least we could start to piece the puzzle together.

Meanwhile, Clay starts sending photos of Wyatt and his injuries. Something had picked him up by the back of the neck and torn all of the skin away from the muscle…The vet said he was very lucky to be alive. I knew that coyotes aren’t large enough to pick up Wyatt like that, I mean he is a tank. But it couldn’t be wolves. He wouldn’t have gotten away, right?

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Jugular puncture wounds, back of neck

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He had two drains placed on his upper back, they criss cross one another

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The third drain and retreat puncture wounds

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His back got the worst of it… good thing he’s pure muscle and super top heavy

Three drains, 10 wounds and 20+ stitches later, Wyatt came home and started to fully come out of the sedation. He was afraid and disoriented, but wagged his tail any chance he could. The retired CO arrived and said he had found two pairs of fresh wolf tracks above the house. He took a look at Wyatt’s wounds, looked at me very seriously and asked where I had lost the blood trail. I walked him out to the spot, and he immediately found what I had missed – a blood covered bush that lead through barbed wire up a path trailed with blood. Not very far from the house at all. He set off and I went inside.

He came back, quickly. It was a wolf attack. He found a fresh kill site not more than 100 yards from our house, at least three different sets of wolf tracks and he had followed their pursuit and attack on Wyatt. How he made it home, alive, we do not know. It kept being repeated – he is very lucky to be alive.

So, we assume Wyatt was on his morning rounds and went to check out the new smells and the raven party, only to find some not very nice creatures on the other side.

The retired CO spent the rest of the day tracking on the property, I ended up seeing one grey wolf cross our upper field, but we didn’t have much luck catching the buggers. Wyatt was in a lot of pain and really freaked out, but was starting to come out of shock. Our CO friend showed up at the house and he and Clay were ready to hunt. Following the blood trail to the kill site is the second eeriest moment of that day for me, the first, y’know, that whole being surrounded by wolves thing. Still sends shivers down my spine.

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Wyatt’s journey home

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The kill site, a mule deer

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Yep, that’s our house from the kill site…

Although they staked out the kill site, no wolves returned. Clay set up the game cam and we got to witness the coyotes and ravens clean up the site. More fresh wolf tracks today to go along with the howling I heard throughout the night, but still no actual sightings close enough for a shot. Wyatt had a terrible night, I think part pain, part trauma, but we got through it. Nothing like sleeping on the floor holding your dogs paw just to let him know you’re there and that he is safe. He’s a hero in my book… thank god he found them first. I can’t imagine if I’d been doing chores and stumbled across them unarmed or if I had to go look for him and found a bigger mess than I was prepared to tangle with…. he came home, he came to warn us. My heart breaks for him, but am I am so so happy that he came home. How? We will never know, but he definitely earned his “bad ass farm dog” award. He didn’t give up, he didn’t submit, he didn’t lay down, he has two bad hips and a bad knee and still ran like hell… He won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon, but that’s just fine with me. He has also once again lived up to his Wyatt Earp namesake, the baddest doggy in the west. I guess that makes Maynard your huckleberry…

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I took Maynard up to the site this morning to take some photos and check the game cam. He smelled out his brothers trail immediately and led me the entire way through it

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One of the smaller wolf tracks on site

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Nothing left but the carcass and bones after the coyotes and the ravens got to it

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It seems so small

Today is a new day. Wyatt is alive and we are on the hunt. For those of you who may feel sorry for the wolves and think it is not right that we kill them, please remember that the safety of myself and my family is at stake. I refuse to walk around my property being afraid of the big bad wolf. I will not constantly look over my shoulder, or worry that one of the dogs, chickens, horses could be killed at any moment because wolves are in our territory. We share this land, but we must stake claim to what is our safety zone. I’ve run across countless kills on my hikes/walks/skis and never once felt in danger as they were not 100 yards away from my house. I have no problem staking claim on our homestead and defending my brave dog, frankly it would be stupid not to. He lived to tell the tale for a reason. The night is dark and full of terrors, but Mama’s got her .243 and she’s not ashamed to use it.

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“I’m your huckleberry”

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Everything is pretty swollen, but draining well

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The criss-crossed drains

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Fraken-doggy

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It’s going to be a long road ahead…

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Happy to be here with Mama… I think he just might make it

Keep you dogs safe and your guns close folks, homesteading is not for the faint of heart.

And wolves… we’re coming for you. I hope Wyatt got a chunk or two for himself.

Now, if I could only get the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack out of my head when I am walking the property, that would be great.

Thanks to all who sent prayers, concerns and well wishes – Wyatt knows he is very loved.

~Katy

 

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Wild Wednesday – Coyote Hunting

This past weekend brought warm (very warm) temperatures and blue skies. In February. We weren’t complaining (too much). What’s good for the spring yearning is bad for our farm road. It’s such a love hate relationship with that damn farm road. But we persevered and are back to cold weather, a frozen road and grey skies. I guess you can’t have it all.

Clay has been itching to get out and hunt some coyotes. He hunts coyotes for a number of reasons, mainly of which is to keep the predator population down on the farm to help protect our deer populations and our precious chickens. He also said he would someday make me a coyote blanket, which is awesome because I will then be straight up Game of Thrones Winterfell legit. Eat your heart out Ned Stark.

Anyway, we had some friends join us on Sunday for a lovely snowshoe, some unsuccessful hunting and overall a perfectly gorgeous afternoon.

We saw four coyotes, three moose, a bald eagle and copious amounts of mule deer.

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The mighty Peace River

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The hunting crew

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Mule deer in our yard

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Mule deer on the move because we showed up

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Coyote on the ridge

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Lucky duck

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We had an audience

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Moose down in a gully

I must say, being able to snowshoe, hike and hunt on our very own property with views like this is probably one of my favorite parts of our lifestyle change.

What did you do this Sunday?

~Katy

 

 

Wild Wednesdays: The Wild Birds of Canadian Acres

Is it Wednesday again already?!

The topic for today’s post may not be as exciting as bull elk in our field or a black bear mystery, but the wild birds of Canadian Acres have become a huge part of our day around the farm. Last winter I hung up two bird feeders in the poplar trees outside our back door and filled them with black sunflower seeds.

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I can’t help but sing “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag…”

The first year, we mostly had black capped chickadees and woodpeckers frequent the feeders with the occasional finch and snow bunting. This year, I’ve noticed a huge increase in not only quantities, but also different types of wild birds and I couldn’t be more delighted. There is just something so soothing about watching wild birds feed and fly around in their natural habitat. Wyatt has taken to being a full time old man who constantly watches the birds out the window. It’s pretty adorable. Although, he may just be upset that they are eating “his food” since he has an acquired taste for bird food. Weirdo.

Photographing these guys can be difficult since the feeders are so close to the house, but I do try. Here’s a little peek at some of our most frequent visitors:

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A pretty little female dusky grouse visits our back porch from time to time

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I’m pretty much obsessed with her feathered feet

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And mohawk…

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I’m not sure what this little guy is. Best guess is some type of finch?

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I love the texture of feather patterns

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These guys are pine grosbeak’s with an unidentified bird on the right… I should get better at birding… y’know, in my spare time

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We also have a bonafide bird hunter on our hands as Miss Sake has been known to not only patiently watch these critters, she’s also lumberjack climbed a tree or two. I don’t think she’s landed a bird just yet (and leaves the big chickens alone) but I witnessed her first mouse hunt last night so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

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Ever so focused in the chicken yard

These birds were feeding on a grey winter day, but don’t despair, as most grey days turn into magical evenings and we couldn’t feel more blessed than sunset time on the farm.

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Goodnight farm

I’m so lucky to have such a diverse habitat to call home.

~Katy

Wild Wednesdays – Bull Elk

One of my blog goals for 2015 is to post “Wild Wednesdays” highlighting the wild life on our property as well as our wild horses. It’s always amazing to me how beautiful morning coffee is around here… and evening time wine. Most of these photos were taken from our back deck, a perfect pairing with a nice cup of macadamia nut roast coffee or glass of my favorite Syrah.

These elk were very interested in our horse feed and were giving the horses a hard time. I chased them off of the bale last week and we haven’t seen them since. It’s warmed up a bit, so it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of them…

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Suggestions on anything else you’d like to see more of or learn more about are most welcome as I finalize my blogging plan for the year.

Hope you will enjoy “Wild Wednesdays” as much as we enjoy this wild life.

~Katy

Deck the Shed with Lots of Game Meat…

Fa la la la laa laa laa laa la…. ‘Tis the season to feast and eat… Fa la la la laa laa laa laa la.

Don we now camo apparel… Fa la la la la la laa laa laa. Tote around a single barrel… Fa la la la laa la laa la laa la.

Howdy folks, it’s officially my favorite time of the year. Not only is it the holiday season, it’s also a time we get to fill our freezers with tasty wild game meat. I’m not much of a hunter and as an animal lover, I must admit it’s a hard process for me to go through without crying, but I am a firm believer in knowing where my food comes from and that each animal lives a wild, healthy and happy life. Being able to hunt on the farm was a huge draw for us on deciding to homestead.

This November brought deer season and I was saddened by the amount of poaching that goes on in our area. I am thankful for our fences and signs as we do have the horses living amongst the wild game, but boy did people push the envelope. I mean, I can SEE you… you are in my neighbors field and you can obviously see my house. Sigh… I digress.

I am thankful that Clay had his mule deer tag and harvested us a beautiful 4 point buck in a single shot. I was so proud I promptly marched out and took a bunch of amazing photos, later to realize I didn’t have a memory card in my camera… blast! Anyway, Clay gutted it (with my leg holding assistance), skinned it and hung it up in our power shed. The whole process didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. This farm girl is growing up!

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As a wife, I seem to recall some sort of request for a tarp on the floor? Hmmmmm….

After hanging it for 10 days it was time for my very first large animal butcher session. I was a little intimidated, but once Clay started to bring in the quarters and I had fully gotten into my first glass of wine, everything came pretty easily. I just followed the natural lines of the muscle and trimmed, trimmed, trimmed. As an avid cook, I knew what I wanted to keep and what I didn’t. It was actually kind of fun. And man oh man, is venison a gorgeous meat! I mean, look at that color. Happy happy girl.

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Let the games begin…

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Our set up

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Yum

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Check me out and my mad skills

The dogs enjoyed a leg bone each… Wyatt got the crazy eyes and devoured his. It took Maynard about 15 minutes to warm up to the idea and realize it wasn’t there to kill him, and in the end, enjoyed it very much.

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A very unimpressed Maynard

After packaging all of the large cuts of venison with my handy dandy food saver, I set the remaining scraps aside in the fridge for next day grinding. We bought a grinder from Cabela’s a few months earlier and I was eager to try it.

So the next day, I trimmed and sliced about 2 lbs of jerky meat and fed the rest through our grinder. It was awesome! I was finished in like 20 minutes and that was running it through 2 different blades. It took longer to clean the darned thing. Ha ha! 10 lbs of beautiful ground venison for the freezer – am I a bad ass or what?! (Sorry, the new homestead skills have gone to my head quickly. Also, gotta keep the motivation up for our next much larger butcher session.)1-IMG_1585

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Gorgeous!

Fast forward one month to this week and we were on our next hunt. Mind you we enjoyed our first venison tenderloin steaks (delicious) and butchered 10 roosters within that time…  I can not stress enough that this lifestyle literally never has a dull moment.

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Grilled venison tenderloin with kale & almonds and potato galette

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It was their time to go… they were getting a little too organized and held way too many rallies

At the end of November we had a herd of elk move onto the property. What a breathtaking sight to enjoy my morning tea to. Elk are absolutely gorgeous animals and something I did not experience in Alaska. Clay and I enjoyed doing  a daily count, and watching the bulls try to woo the ladies. Mostly we anxiously awaited the arrival of December 1st, when Clay’s Limited Entry Hunt tag for a cow elk came into effect. We hoped they would stick around.

And they did.

The weather was warm, I got home at 4 pm, we geared up, he with his .338 and me with my camera and a hunting we did go. 20 minutes later we had our elk. I think I’ll start going on more hunts if it only takes 20 minutes. (I can feel Clay rolling his eyes from here.) I am amazed at how big elk are. She was beautiful and we both thanked her for her life and sacrifice for our family.

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Amazing night for a hunt

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There she is, standing on the left

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Happy hunter

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I had mixed feelings about posting this photo… but I am trying to be more present and proud of my new lifestyle and bounty that it gives so here I am… thankful

Clay’s dad came down to help haul it up to the house and they gutted, skinned and quartered it for the shed. Hooray! I haven’t bought red meat from the grocery store in a year and I won’t be starting anytime soon. I am excited to butcher my first elk and try my hand at elk jerky… the venison stuff only lasted for 2 days around our house. Nothing like jerky for breakfast 🙂

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Utilizing all of our resources 🙂

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Healthy gal

Another busy month leads us into the holidays and we remain thankful and blessed. We truly are living the sustainable lifestyle we dreamed about. Although, I keep having a stare down with the giant elk heart that’s in my fridge at the moment… I’m still a work in progress.

Now, time to increase my wild game meat recipe collection – what’s your favorite way to prepare venison or elk?

~Katy

 

 

 

 

Game Cam Whodunnit

A few weeks back Clay checked on our furthest game cam, about 1/2 mile down from our house. As he approached, he realized that something was wrong, it was facing a different angle. Upon further inspection it appeared as if someone had vandalized our camera! But how, oh how could we figure out this mystery?

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This guy seems legit…

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Not so sure about this one…

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Our first baby on the cam!

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Oh my goodness, those spots…

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Wait a minute….

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Hey, stop that!

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Oh so you’re the culprit…

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Returning to the scene of the crime to check on your handiwork I suppose?

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Well, now you’re just doing victory laps…

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Oh yeah, it’s never the moose

Now to figure out how to fix the broken strap holder… damn bears.

~Katy

Bear Butts – Game Cam Update August 2014

After checking one of our game cams after only a few days yesterday, it’s become apparent that we aren’t the only busy beings on the farm. We set up the camera in a new location, on a huge game trail that I use to ski on in the wintertime.

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We have quite the resident black bear population at the farm

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Two little bears on the prowl

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Mama and baby

I should note that most of these critters are heading in the direction of the house… don’t tell Wyatt.

Lot’s of action in a few days but no huge racks to be found, so we’re hoping to see some big game as fall approaches.

Happy Monday to you!

~Katy

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This what we look like when we’re traveling the property… Clay is training for a sheep hunt and I’m just hanging out with a gun, no big deal 🙂