The Farm on Oak Creek


It’s been quite a couple of weeks for predators out here.  This is because something large–the mountain lion, I assume–killed something equally as large between my fence and the creek.  (Of course, the mystery writer in me spun a completely different story. Morbid is now my middle name.)

As for what that big thing was, I’m assuming it was a mule deer. I’ve seen them all summer walking outside the fence, eyeing my pastures. The deer fascinate my turkeys. Most of them are old enough to remember the cows and the cow poop they so enjoyed scratching through. Every time they see a deer behind the fence they run down to greet them, almost as if they’re inviting them in. It’s been interesting to watch, the whole flock running for the fence, then walking alongside the deer as they make their way to where they cross the creek behind my front barn.

But as you can imagine the smell of something as large as a deer decomposing out there has been awful.  I considered going out to see what it was, then realized it would take a week to cut through the brambles, saplings and grapevine that has taken over the area. And what if I came across a scavenger–one that might consider me a snack–while I was at it? That was the end of that idea. May whatever it is rest in peace.

I’ve got just one word for all this: YUCK.

Needless to say that terrible smell has attracted every predator in the area.  My friend Jacquie called to find out if I was seeing the bobcat that was taking her chickens. I hadn’t, but I’m guessing its been here.  So have the coyotes, night after night. There are mornings when the stink of javelina tangles with the rot.  And skunk.  Of course, I’m sure the lion has been back, having herself a snack on decaying meat.

And let’s not forget the circling vultures. They’re driving the turkey mamas crazy.

I often tell people that Benjamin Franklin suggested that the turkey be our national bird. He was outvoted and we ended up with the eagle (a scavenger, by the way, despite all that noble hype).  The reason Mr. Franklin suggested the turkey was because the nubby skin that cover Tom’s head and neck–his caruncle–changes color all day long, depending on his mood, from red to white to blue.  A walking advertisement for our flag.  No eagle does that.

And forget “eagle-eyed”.  The turkeys have eagles beat there too.  The hens make a distinctive humming sound when they identify a potential but distant winged predator.  They’ll all stand still, one eye cocked toward the sky, humming to each other as they confirm whether its worth running for the barn or if they should drop to sit on their babies. Or, as I just witnessed this morning, fly up to attack the stooping black hawk.

Me, I have to look and look and look until I finally what they’re watching. Usually, it’s a single mote of dark color against the vast sky. Turkey-eyed I am not.

This morning is the first one since whatever it is that died no longer reeks. The rains must have hurried things along. When I finish this book I’m going to take that week and hack my way through the foliage to find out what it was.  Here’s hoping the mystery writer is wrong.



© Denise Domning, 2023