I've been sick lately, so I've been sleeping on the couch in the living room.
I had taken some medication the night before, so I could (hopefully) finally have a good night's sleep.
At about 7 in the morning, I was awoken by conversation between my mom and my sister.
I had been briefly conscious when they went out to feed the horses this morning. I heard
"I think we should wake Rachel up and tell her," Said my mom.
" -m-" Olivia was cut off, as my mind let me wake up totally.
"What?" I asked
"Something sad happened last night." she said.
My mind went to my dog.
She's 14 human years old, diabetic, blind, and has a recently discovered lung problem (akin to doggie asthma)
It was plausible that she had passed away in her sleep.
"Maggie passed away in her sleep last night?" I asked.
"No, the goats died last night. A Coyote got them." She said.
She continued "Granny got up this morning to let Taz (her West Highland Terrier) out and he barked and scared them away. They hopped over the fence, but the goats are dead."
I got up. I put on yesterdays work clothes (jeans shorts and a camp-halfblood T-shirt.) I grabbed a ponytail holder and my bandanna. I put my hair in a messy bun, put my bandanna on and went with my mother and sister to fetch Pablo (a boy my sister's age that helps us with the tougher chores around the ranch.)
We ate a sparse breakfast at McDonald's, and came back home.
I had only let out a few tears. I was determined not to cry when we had company.
But when I took out the trash, I decided I had to see. Did they suffer? These goats were like my dogs! They were family, and I had to know.
I turned back out the door, already crying and ran to their pen. I knew they were dead, but my eyes were expecting to see them standing, wiggling their fluffy tails back and forth, perhaps pushing each other away from their stack of hay.
They were lying there, legs straight out. Eyes wide open. Rigormortis had set in. Ants were interested in their tongues, and the flies had honed in on their bodies. It registered that they didn't suffer as much as they could.
Tinkerbell didn't fight. Her neck was broken, but no blood had spilled.
Columbia fought a little, and along with her broken neck, a patch of blood spilled on to her salt and pepper fur.
I looked at Tinkerbell's gazeless eyes, through my blurry ones again.
I turned away and hugged the nearest horse's head. She licked my arm and nickered at me.
Horses know grieving. No one can tell me differently.
My mom hobbled out from our newly painted fence, and hugged me. The horse didn't leave us.
I wanted to dig their grave, but mom told me I wouldn't be allowed. My lungs are suffering, and I had an appointment at 'my hospital' up north the next day. It was a sweltering 100 degrees and my mom didn't want me to pick up Valley Fever on top of whatever I already had going on.
So I came in side, cold all of the sudden.
I wrapped a blanket over my shoulder, cried some more and notified my long-distance best friend. (probably wrecking her vacation in the process.)
I cried some more. I stared at my books... and I stared at the outside. I thought about the loads of time I woke up the goats when they were sleeping...because they were so still I thought they had died.
I thought about the ribbon I won at the county fair with my photo of Columbia.
I thought about feeding them flowers, and them getting buckets stuck on their heads.
I thought about when they scratched their backs with their own horns. I thought of them bleating, and how it sounded like children screaming.
I'd never see them do those random things again.
My sister and Pablo dug the grave, under my 'miracle tree' (a special tree to me.) and laid them to rest there.
Animal Control stopped by, and we told them the story, as well the stories my grandmother had been told since the events of this morning (neighbor's four baby goats were killed, the rabbits down the road disappeared, and an entire shed of chickens were slaughtered by a canine.)
We don't live in the city, if you haven't gathered that yet.
He gently reminded us that we have the right to shoot to kill.
I typed up a short message on my computer and printed out 32 of them. One for each door in our small neighborhood, notifying our neighbors that they should be hyper aware for their kids, pets, and livestock's safety.
Pablo, my sister and I taped them to the house's doors. We talked to all the neighborhood characters and all of them said the same thing.
We have firearms. If I see it, I'll shoot it. (I love my eccentric neighbors.)
A neighbor even chased us down the road (she was inside when we taped the messages and figured we weren't far.) She told us that a stray Siberian Husky had been stalking her during her early morning walks.
I believe her. My dad once had the title of Sniper in the military (based on his accuracy. He never actually took on the position of one.) Me and my sister want him to teach us.
God willing, we'll never need to use the skill. But what would our excuse be if we didn't know it, and needed it?
We wouldn't have an excuse. Based on neighbor's accounts, this thing is getting more aggressive.
It won't be long before I'll be feeding the horses, on my own at four at night. While my grandma usually watches from her window, there's not much she could do in the event of an attack. I won't stand by and watch my animals killed.
To be prepared, doesn't mean I'll have the opportunity to do anything about it. After all, the goats were completely silent last night. But it will make me feel better. It would sooth my mind.
Especially after I had to scramble on top of the hay stacks, to get away from an aggressive dog two years ago. Imagine if I was in the same position, except next time, it was after my sister, or the horses, or my dog...and neither of us could reach the cover of the hay, or the shed?
I've even been bit by a dog before. on the face (mangling my lip.)
Logically speaking, it's dumb for me not to be prepared out here.....
And dumber if something did happen while I was unprepared. Knowing me, I'd grab a rake or whatever I could, and I'd try to beat it. This thing, jumped over a fence that's taller than me. What's the likelihood I could beat if off with a rake? Maybe I could, but the odds aren't spectacular.
The other question that occurred, was, why would it all of the sudden target our area, so fast and so vicious? It only ate the rabbits....it just broke the necks of all the others and left their corpses. Like it killed just for kicks.
I think I have an answer.
The highway construction. It's steamrolled right over the last remaining patch of undeveloped land in between us and the desert. It's two blocks away.
It's home has been disturbed and it's angry and hungry and homeless.
Dangerous times call for desperate measures friends.
I'm tired. I feel sick in more than one way, and I would give anything to pet their fur again, or here them 'scream' as I cool them off with a hose.
Pay special attention to your loved ones. You never know when they can be ripped away from you by the jaws of a killer.
Human, or otherwise.