Each night we take the dogs out before bedtime for what we call our "flashlight walk". Out here, especially on a night with no moon, the flashlight is our only light. Since we have no idea what's lurking out there (like that snake that got our horse Bobbie last month OR the wild hog that might decide to attack OR the coyotes we hear howling every night OR, heaven forbid, the skunk that has it in for Jag), walking around at night here is an adventure.
A few nights ago I was out by myself with the dogs when I was met with what looked like hundreds of eyes in the not-far-enough distance. I quickly took the dogs back inside before they figured out that something worth chasing was on their land and went back out on my own. (A hundred yards from my backdoor and I felt like I was in an episode of American Hogger.) I walked to where I had seen the eyes and shined my light. They were still staring back. I moved closer and closer until I realized that the coyotes or wild hogs I thought I was going to find were actually deer - fourteen of them (okay so there were twenty four eyes, not hundreds. Blame my adrenaline.) There were big deer and baby deer - some motionless, some eating - but none terrified of me enough to run. I was quite flattered that they thought of the C4 as friendly territory. Since then, they've been in that spot every evening.
We went out a bit earlier last night. The deer weren't in their spot yet but the persimmon tree by the pond was ROCKIN, literally! We shined the light in the tree and the eyes looking back at us looked like Christmas tree lights. Apparently Smokey and Bandit (the thieving raccoons that terrorize our cat and destroy our barn) had brought their friends and family to feast on persimmons. I admit to complete joy watching those little suckers scamper out of the tree and run into the woods when we got close. (Anyone who thinks a raccoon is cute has not cleaned up after one.) And I don't know why I referred to them as "little". My friend and I were on foal watch one night and saw one stand up on his hind legs, use both hands to push in opposite directions and open the big barn doors. There are days when that is a feat for me!
We live on the edge of Corps of Engineer land so there is no telling what is living in those woods. Lots of hog hunters come through here boasting of their catch and my husband has caught the rascals rooting up our back pasture. I have gladly never come across one. It's the coyotes that boldly run across our land in broad daylight and sing all night long that unnerve me. Tank and Jag think nothing of chasing them. Although I know they could never catch one, I fear the day a coyote decides to turn around. That's another animal I thought of as small and thin, but no more. The ones that trot through here are fat, happy and can jump a four foot fence like they are skipping, all the while never taking their eyes off of you.
The sounds are everywhere out here. The donkeys and the cows next door heehaw and moo "hello". My favorite is the roosters that have no idea what dawn is and doodle doo every time we step out the door after dark. Even the pond is not immune to night terrors. We have frogs the size of big rats loudly croaking and turtles by the hundreds that plop into the water as we walk by.
There is no telling what kind of excitement awaits us when we head out on our flashlight walk each night. We look forward to ALMOST any adventure. I offer two lessons in this rambling story. (1) Adventure is as close as you allow it to be, and (2) when someone tells you that they are enjoying a "peaceful" life in the country, you can rest assured that they are not being completely honest. The stars at night ARE big and bright here in Texas, but so are the critters.