We moved to the farm to be closer to the wild. I was looking for a place where I could step outside my door and feel a part of a forest or a field. I didn’t belong in a manufactured space and didn’t do well moving from one enclosed building to another.
You can’t ask for forest and field and not also get the beasts that call those places home. And how I love those beasts! The coyote howls in the night, the hoots of the owls, the deer bounding with white tails twitching from one side to the other, like a sticky clock hand. The raccoons, rabbits, opossums, moles, voles, and gophers. The songbirds, crows, vultures and hawks. The tap tap tapping of woodpeckers.
And a beautiful red fox. We’ll see him treading lightly across the field, stopping to put his nose up in the air, or very cheerily jumping from one gopher mound to the next, his gossamer tail floating behind him like the train of a dress. One morning as I was leaving for work I glanced over the field and there he was, perched on a toppling old bale of hay. I stopped the car, almost with a screech it stunned me so. He turned his nose toward me and I could see the thick red fur on his chest flip with the wind like the pages of a book. The wild beasts here are music and painting to me. Symphony and watercolor. Poetry.
This fox belongs on the land more than we do. He was here before we were; we are nothing but imposing on his home.
It was our fault he got into the chicken coop and killed four of our hens. The fence wasn’t high enough nor sturdy enough- we grew complacent. It never once crossed my mind that we would in any way try to rid the land of the fox, even when tears were choking my throat as I searched for my Henrietta and when I found BeBe’s body battered, bloody, and lifeless in the corner of the run. I say this with an acknowledgement that we do not depend on our animals or the land for our living; losing the chickens did nothing to our income or livelihoods.
I came to the wild with the urgency and energy of life- I came looking for the trees, the grass, the fields, and the beasts. I found them here and hope they’ll never go.