The Farm on Oak Creek

The Wee Hours

Why, oh why, am I typing at 4:00 AM?  Blame it on Bear, or rather Moosie.

Bear protecting the porch

Bear when he first arrived. Even on his first day he knew his job was to protect the porch.

At 1:45 AM I was startled from my well-deserved slumber by Bear barking.  Now, it’s not unusual for Bear to bark in the middle of the night.  He’s protecting my porch.  You know, that porch is the most important thing on this farm.  It’s where he eats, sleeps and cuddles with Adventure Boy, my orange tabby barn cat.

The thing to know about Bear is that he’s a coward.  A 115 pound coward.  Livestock guardian, indeed.  He’s got a deal worked out with Moosie.  Bear identifies the threat, then looks at Moosie and says, “Get ’em, little guy.  I’ve got your back.”

Well tonight at 1:46 AM I realized that this wasn’t Bear’s usual “Believe what I sound like, not what I am” bark.  This was different.  He sounded, I don’t know, strange.  He was barking in short bursts, not his usual long strings.

I tried to ignore it, but with mountain lions, bobcats, fox, coyote and who knows what other predator at my fence now that Elsie’s within days of delivering, I just couldn’t go back to sleep.  So, at 2:00 AM I got up, donned my sweater and my headlamp (note to self: get a new one.  This one’s elastic is so worn out that it slips down my forehead constantly) and my sloggers–shoes that are made like boots; I love those things!–and started walking the property.

It’s always interesting walking at night.  First, on a clear night like tonight was, the Milky Way looks like a milky way, a distinct streak of milky light in the sky.  Second, I like seeing the spiders.  I have jewel-toned spiders all over the place around here but the headlamp makes them sparkle like, well, jewels. The emerald ones are the best.  And, third, I never know what I’m going to end up falling over and sitting next to.  One night a bull frog and I ended up eye-to-eye.

So I walk the whole middle pasture, Bear at my side, waiting for Moosie to show up.  There’s no Moosie. How can that be?  The area the dogs patrol is completely fenced. That’s scary because Moosie has no fear.  He’d take after a pack of coyotes just for the thrill of chasing them, and the hope of catching one.  He doesn’t know that coyotes bait dogs, luring them into the chase only to have the pack ambush them.

Then I walk the road, looking for a break in the fence.  There’s no break.  Where is Moosie?  I’m calling and whistling (I’m sure the neighbors are thrilled by this), but no Moosie. Bear is with me the whole way.  Every few minutes he’d give me a look that I’m pretty sure meant: “You really don’t expect me to work all night by myself, do you?  You know, if we can’t find him, I’m happy to sleep with you instead.”

Just as I give up and make my tired way back into the house, here comes my not-so-large dog, tail wagging, ears down.  Oh yeah.  He knows he wasn’t supposed to be off the property.  We went over this last year.  He took off to the North and spent an afternoon leashed to the porch. The next outing was a venture to the East.  He spent an afternoon leashed to the porch.  He tried South and got the same result.  At last he tried West.  As I dragged him across the porch to fix his leash to the metal railing, I could see it in his eyes.  “I get it. I’m not supposed to leave.  I need to stay home.”

I didn’t work on him climbing into the ditch and swimming under the bridge.  Ah well, today is another day.  Another really long day.

© Denise Domning, 2023