The main critter on our acreage, our dog Marley, looking off the back porch

Maybe the most ubiquitous animals we have encountered on the acreage are mice. They nested in all of the soft camping equipment we stored in the back shed over the winter (tents, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows) and ruined some of it with their shredding, urine and feces. There seem to be two distinct types here based on their coats. One is gray and black and and the other tan and brown and larger in size. Mousetraps work well on both.

Recently I noticed a garter snake coiled between the side of the house and a downspout. I knocked it to the ground and our dog Marley picked it up in her mouth and shook it then began pawing at it. The snake stopped moving and soon Marley was walking unsteady and dripping saliva from her mouth. Shelly did what everyone does these days and whipped out her smart phone. What she found was that the dog was having an allergic reaction to to either the snakes skin or its venom, or both. We forced a antihistamine down Marley’s throat and soon she was fine. When we looked for the snake it was gone.

Over the winter we had a pair of rabbits staying in the machine shed and foraging around the acreage. One day I walked up the driveway to the mailbox and there was one of them dead, with most of its insides now on the outside. Only a week later the surviving rabbit had been joined by another, and we had a pair again.

What got the rabbit probably was either the bald eagle or the chicken hawk we had seen perched on telephone poles or fence posts, or flying overhead. The chicken hawk comes and goes but I am guessing the bald eagle was only hunting in our area until the river thawed, because I have not seen it for a few months.

Marley alerted us one night to either a huge raccoon or a groundhog that she had chased up one of our light poles. By the time I had grabbed a rifle the dog had excitedly run off in another direction and the animal was gone from the pole.

One night in late autumn a thick fog had reduced visibility to around 30 feet. Two packs of coyotes, one to the south and the other southeast, began howling and yipping back and forth, getting louder as they both approached the house. I was standing on the back porch listening and soon they were close enough I thought they would appear through the fog. The tension I felt was enough that I had backed up to the door, ready to rush in, and I had already put Marley in the house. Curiosity kept me there, waiting for something to happen. It went silent, the fog drifting in the slight wind. Nothing, as if they had disappeared. Minutes went by, and not another sound from them. They were gone.