Rural Heritage magazine has just published my article “Living with Moose.” I wrote the article back in the fall of 2011 after I’d taken a pretty decent picture of a bull moose bedded down near one of my pony paddocks. Little did I know what that bull moose had in store for me after submitting the article but before it was published!
For the article, I recounted the many interactions I’d had with these large ungulates here in Gould. Moose are a big part of Gould. The visitor’s center for the state park is named for them and boasts an impressive and apparently life-like statue sculpted from barb wire. Originally that statue was intended to be on a pedestal out at the highway, but rumor has it that too many hunters shot at it there, so they moved it in closer to the building to protect the artistic investment.
The interactions that I recounted in the article all took place here at home and more often than not involved ponies, including hauling manure with a pony to the compost pile where we surprised a cow and calf and they us, and extracting a newborn moose calf from a fence while out checking my pony herd. These interactions all happened over the space of nine years, but writing about them apparently condensed them in my mind because I started to get a little jumpy whenever I was outside after the article was submitted. Though I’ve not yet been charged by a moose, I’m always watchful because I have seen them charge my dog and my husband (another story I recount in the article.)
That big bull moose that I’d taken the picture of was around a lot at that time. The picture turned out to be at the early stage of his ‘residence’ at Willowtrail Farm. I saw him almost daily for a couple of weeks, usually keeping company with one or two cows since it was during rut. As the days got shorter, I started doing more of my chores after dark, and since we didn’t have any snow, it was really hard to see in the evenings.
One night I was headed down the driveway for final feeding shortly after I’d submitted the article, and I thought I heard a strange sound. My dog was ahead of me and didn’t change her movement or indicate she heard anything unusual, but when I heard the sound again, I decided to head back to the house for a flashlight because the presence of the bull during mating season had heightened my anxiety.
About my dog, you have to understand that she used to try to drive the moose off when they were in the yard, but after being charged a few times, she’s quite content to let me run interference on her behalf. Not necessarily my idea of appropriate roles! I’m pretty sure she’d come to my aid if I was threatened, and I hope I never have to find out!
I trudged back up to the house then headed down the driveway again with a powerful flashlight and a stick. There, not twenty feet off the driveway were the bull and two cows. They looked even bigger in the beam of the flashlight, and my jumpiness felt justified, though that didn’t make me feel any better!
For the past year, while I’ve waited to see if Rural Heritage would publish “Living with Moose,” I’ve seen many moose, including some big bulls, one of which may very well be my friend from last fall. My heart rate doesn’t get as high any more, though, since the encounters are much fewer and farther between. And being farther from writing about them helps too: my memories aren’t so condensed!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012