Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Night Time Encounters

My usual routine is to lock up the horses in their stalls, feed them, wait a few hours for them to finish their meal, and then return to the barn to let them out of their stalls so that they can either exercise themselves or lie in the sand of the arena.  However, occasionally, I am either too busy or in too much pain to return to the barn to let the horses out.  On the nights that I skip that step, they wake us up with banging.  So, if I know ahead of time that I won't be able to let them out later, I don't lock them up.  The result is that Rock and Gabbrielle get super fat while my two senior horses start displaying ribs, so I don't like to do that very often.

With the exception of the rabbits, our wildlife has been pretty quiet this summer, so I haven't been too concerned about running into a mountain lion or stepping on a rattlesnake in the dark.  I do wear a headlamp and bring the remote control for the floodlight near the barn with me, but with the way shadows get cast, I still have to pay close attention to make out what exactly is on the ground and in the weeds and bushes.  My best indicator if there is trouble around is the horses, so I always shine my headlamp on them before approaching.  I know that if they are on alert and all pointing at something, I had better shine my headlamp in whatever direction they tell me to.

Last night the horses were relaxed.  I began opening their stall doors one by one.  Then I heard animal vocalizations coming from the wash that I had never heard before.  I was like, "It's a bird.  No, it's a coyote.  No, it's some kind of cat."

I couldn't figure it out, but the horses didn't seem concerned.  I began shining my headlamp along the ridge of the arroyo, but didn't see any eyes shining back at me.  As my light swept along the fence line as I returned my attention to the horses, I saw something moving.  I shined the light back to that location, and here came this Gila Monster marching along the inside of the fence line in the arena.  I'd never seen one at night before.

This one was fairly small compared to the ones I'd seen around my property in the past, so that made me happy to know that they are procreating.  I worried that Rock might step on it, or that it might bite and sink some venom into Rock because it was getting too close to his legs, so I made some noise and movement to encourage it to go in a different direction.  It started climbing through the no-climb fence, and then I worried that it wouldn't fit and would get hung up.  It managed to squeeze through, but then continued walking toward me, so I headed back to the house.  I think it was on a mission to get back to its home, and I was standing in its way.

This means that if it is cool enough for the Gila Monster to come out at night, it's cool enough for the rattlesnakes, so I'll have to keep an eye out.  Our land is riddled with knee-high weeds, so I'll have to stop wearing my summer slip-ons and take the time to cover my legs with boots.

Then in the middle of the night I took the dogs out to do their business and something jumped and landed right next to us.  Both Stewie and I looked at it, but it took a few seconds for it to register what we were looking at.  It was a kangaroo rat.  When it blinked, Stewie growled and lunged at it, so it hopped away.  I laughed, wondering what that rat was thinking to hop right up to a pack of dogs.


lytha said...

Your state terrifies me.

You could live happily in Australia, no worries, after what you live with in AZ.

I have two cousins in AZ and I don't know how they do it, coming from Seattle.

TeresaA said...

I would be in sneakers all the time!

Linda said...

It does seem like you have more than your fair share of wildlife. It is scary--especially the venom part. And, a Kangaroo rat? Weird! The other night, we heard something crying at about 2 am and my husband got dressed and drove the 4 wheeler out. We though something had got our goats, but they were okay. We still don't know what it was. Possibly a coyote with a rabbit though. It was eery.