The Coyotes are Howling

And other items of interest.

It’s just after 6 AM on a Tuesday morning. This time of year, we wake up when it gets light. Alex is like an alarm clock and he starts singing and whistling when the room gets light enough to see. I know I could just throw a blanket over his cage and keep him quiet until we’re ready to wake up, but these days, we still wake up before him at least two or three days a week.

Off in the near distance — perhaps over by Rancho de los Caballeros — a bunch of coyotes are singing their coyote songs. I once tried to research why coyotes howl. A few articles on the Web addressed the subject, but none were conclusive. The coyote song is one of the things I like about living in the desert.

Took a break to go down and feed the horses. It’s getting hot these days — in the 90s every day — and the fly situation down there is getting bad. This year, I’m trying a new fly control system. Called Fly Predators, they’re tiny little “non-nuisance” flies that eat “nuisance” fly larvae. The idea is that you spread these little flies around where the annoying flies lay their eggs — primarily on horse manure — and they eat the eggs. Supposedly, if you have enough of the little buggers, they’ll eat just about all the fly eggs, thus killing the fly population before it grows.

I’m not sure if its working. In fact, I suspect that it isn’t. Maybe I started too late. Or maybe it’s all a lot of bull. I asked a few people about their experiences with this solution and they all had good things to say. It’s costly — about $120 per season — but that’s the same amount we’d spend if we had to spray down the horses every day. Anyway, I spread my monthly batch of fly predators this morning. If I don’t see results within a few weeks, I’m going to assume it just doesn’t work. The horses like it a lot better at Howard Mesa. The flies haven’t taken hold there yet and, with luck, they won’t. No need for fly masks and the boys have 40 acres to roam around and graze. Last weekend we took them to Groom Creek Horse Camp in the Prescott National Forest. What a wonderful place. Nice, drive-thru campsites designed for people with horses. Two of the sites even had corrals (rather than rope ties) and we were lucky enough to get one of them. We did a 9-mile loop ride to the top of Spruce Mountain on Saturday and a 7-mile loop ride on the Wolf Creek Trail on Sunday. We were part of a group of perhaps 30 people/horses, although we didn’t all ride together each day.

Prescott is a nice place. At an elevation of about 5000 feet, it gets pretty cold in the winter and stays cool in the summer. Lots of recreation, parks, and shopping. Sun and shade. The other day, Vicki, the woman who’d organized the Groom Creek trip asked me where we lived.

“Wickenburg,” I told her.

“Wickenburg?” she repeated, obviously surprised. “But you’re too young to live in Wickenburg.”

“Exactly.”

I could go into detail here about how much this little conversation bugged me, especially since my Georgetown trip two weeks ago convinced me that I was living in the wrong place. But I’ll save that for another blog entry.

About a year ago, Mike and I spent some time with a Realtor, looking at homes in the Prescott area. It’s tough for us because our house is nearly paid for and neither of us wanted to walk into a big new mortgage. I couldn’t believe the dumps this woman was showing us — all above our price range. (Do Realtors ever listen?) What a waste of time. Then Mike got a job in Phoenix and we decided that the drive from Prescott would just be too darn long for him.

Sadly, there’s no chance of him ever getting a decent paying job in Wickenburg. Fortunately, I can work anywhere and still make the same living. But I do wish I lived somewhere where my helicopter tour and charter business would do better. It’s tough doing business in a town where so few people want to spend money. I guess that’s why so many of the businesses that start in Wickenburg fail within the first year. And why there are so many empty storefronts in town.

Other items of interest include the irony of a humane mouse trap. If you’ve been reading these blogs, you know that I use a humane mouse trap to catch mice and set them free far away from where I caught them. Last summer, I even took two mice for helicopter rides — you can find the blog entry about that somewhere on this site. Well, last week I noticed that a mouse was building a nest in the trunk of my Honda S2000. I love that car — it’s the last sports car I’ll ever buy — and I’m doing my best to make sure it lasts 20 or 30 years. Having a mouse use insulation beyond the trunk compartment to build himself a cozy home in the trunk was not desirable. So before we went away to Groom Creek, I set up the trap with a bit of peanut butter and closed it in the trunk. When I got home on Sunday, a tiny mouse was trapped inside, waiting to be set free.

I decided to drive him up the road and let him out at some bushes away from all the neighbor’s homes (and my garage). I parked alongside of the road, opened my door, opened the trap, and shook the little bugger out. He landed on the ground, but instead of running into the bushes, he ran under my Jeep. I figured: how stupid can the mouse be? He must have run across the road. He couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to hide behind one of my tires. Right? Wrong. I pulled back very slowly, giving him every opportunity to run away. But he must have been really dumb, because when I’d backed up about 10 feet, I saw his crushed body on the road.

Damn.

But you can’t say I didn’t try. Next time, I’ll get out of the car and drop the mouse in a clump of bushes.

Mike’s cousin Rick said I probably did the mouse a favor anyway. He’s right. It’s also snake season — there was a good sized rattler on my driveway on Sunday afternoon — and snakes eat mice. At least this mouse’s death was quick and painless.

We don’t kill the snakes unless they become a nuisance around the house. Don’t want the dog getting bitten. The snakes keep the mice away. One year, we had a bad mouse problem in the shed. Droppings really did a number on one of Mike’s old saddles and I had a saddle blanket ruined. The next year, a rattlesnake moved in under the shed. I’d see him in the corner of the chicken yard in the morning, coiled up, resting. The chickens didn’t bother him and he didn’t bother them. But there were no mice that year, either.

It’s almost 7 AM. Time to get dressed and take Alex to work. He’s chattering away as I type this. “Howdy partner!” That’s his latest vocabulary phrase and he really likes to say it. “Come on Jack, go outside.” I think he orders the dog around more than we do. The dog, of course, ignores him.

What do you think?