‘Dances with Coyotes’

After the excitement, the phone rang and my neighbour gasped, “Well, I guess there’s nothing the matter with my heart but my wife, Sugar, thinks she may have a slight concussion!”
It had all started a year earlier when Puddin’ Pye’s cousin and my neighbour, Milk Toast, experienced a severe case of udder depression.
“I just couldn’t face another decade of looking those cows square in the udder twice a day so I’m selling ’em,” he had explained over a cup of coffee one morning.
“What are you going to do then?” I wondered aloud, half to him, half to myself. After all, farmers aren’t supposed to quit because we need folks who will produce our food for next to nothing.
How else can we afford a winter vacation to Mexico?
“Buffalo!” was his reply as he waxed eloquent on the merits of the great beasts, painting glowing pictures of the vast herd that would soon be roaming the range–right across the fence from my prize garden.
“Oh, they’re real easy on fences. Besides, we’re building ’em outta high tensile wire that’d stop an elephant,” he assured, interpreting the look of terror that must have spread over my face as I envisioned my bear and raccoon-protected corn being trampled by a buffalo stampede.
“The only way they’ll get out is if some idiot leaves the gate open,” he comforted me as he drained the last of his coffee and headed off to begin construction of his buffalo barricade.
The following months saw a beehive of frenetic construction. Super-sized posts and rolls of wire arrived by the truck load. The rumble of tractors and banging of hammers from early morning to late at night marked the progress of the great wall of Blue as it stretched off around the buffalo pasture.
And then one day, there they were roaming the range. The expected herd–big, dark brown lumbering hulks–circled the pasture a few times and then settled down to what looked like a pretty dull existence. In spite of my trepidations, they stayed completely away from the fence–and my garden.
Then last summer, my wife, the Pearl of the Orient, was taking her daily walk. Having declined an invitation to join her, I was comfortably relaxing on the deck with a tall cold one when, at the sound of an ominous rumble, I looked up and my poor old heart skipped a beat.
There, just like a scene out of “Dances with Wolves,” was a full-fledged stampede coming right across the canola field towards the Pearl’s path–and my garden.
I jumped up, loaded the rifle, and levelled it prepared to spill blood. My family and garden would be protected at all costs. But just in the nick of time, on the heels of the stampede, raced a white buffalo pony (in this case a white 4×4 Chevy) jockeyed by a hunt-crazed warrior in full cry–Milk Toast blasting on the horn while his wife, Sugar, ricocheted around inside the cab.
Every time the Chevy hit a rut, it would take a hop about four feet straight up to give the hunter a better view of the fleeing herd. Then engine roaring and wheels spinning, it would drop back into the hood high canola and bound along after the herd, repeating the maneuver at the next rut.
As quickly as it had begun, the tide turned. The stampede stopped and the herd milled around before retracing their course, racing back across the canola to the safety of their paddock. The roaring Chevy nipped at their heels like some prehistoric predator.
“Forgot to latch the gate,” explained a sheepish buffalo herder as we relived the incident and he pulled wads of tangled canola stalks from the Chevy’s innards.
“It won’t happen again,” he promised as he examined the dents Sugar’s head had left in the roof of the Chevy from the rut bounces, and wondered aloud what the body shop would charge to pound them out.
But I’m looking forward to a encore performance of “Dances with Coyotes” so I’ll just keep the rifle–and the camera–loaded.

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