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People ask me all the time how we come up with the names for our soaps. Sometimes they seem to name themselves, and sometimes it takes a little work to come up with the perfect title. This story is all about how we came up with Coyote Madness.

I wasn’t home. Of course. I’m always away from the farm for the truly bizarre occurrences out here, and the night in question definitely fits that bill. It was winter, and we had some friends over hanging out with Heather while I was away. Our friend Erin and her daughter Zoe had come to spend the night. Two other friends were over too, let’s call them Larry and Curly.

Even though it was December, we still had some chickens in a small movable pen by the garden. For those of you who haven’t visited the farm before, our garden is in between the farmhouse and the barn. It’s about an acre in size, and there is enough room around it for me to move the chickens onto fresh grass daily. We usually finish processing birds sometime in November, and only keep a small flock of laying hens over the winter. But we had been having bad predator problems that year, so we were still raising some roosters for meat at the time.

Chickens are fun to raise, but unfortunately they are tasty to every critter that walks, crawls, or flies across Tennessee. I thought we were having issues with raccoons, but it turns out that our predator problem was a little more aggressive than those masked bandits. We had lost quite a few birds out of this batch, but had not had any attacks in several weeks. False sense of security, you see.

At about 10 o’clock, Heather heard a ruckus from out by the garden. Our sort of guard dog Ophelia was barking nonstop. Thinking that she was going to catch some raccoons up to no good, Heather let our other two dogs out and pulled on her boots. It had been raining for days, so there was quite a bit of standing water in the yard and the mud was thick as molasses.

Willy Mays and Choobs (the other two dogs) ran straight to the chicken pen and started barking like crazy. Heather followed them over to the pen, where she was greeted by an unexpected sight. Feathers were flying, chickens were squawking, dogs were barking, and inside the pen was a live coyote. Being unsure what to do and unarmed, Heather went to the pen door. She held it closed from where the coyote had entered, and tried to get the dogs to come to the door. She thought maybe she could get the dogs into the pen with the coyote so they could deal with it. The dogs were not having it. They were on the other side of the pen where the coyote was, and no matter how loud she yelled Heather could not convince them to come to her.

She was raising quite a ruckus, but no help was coming. Erin was putting Zoe to bed, and could not come assist even though she was aware of the dire circumstances. Larry and Curly had had too much to drink, and thought that the neighbors were arguing. At least that’s what they claimed. I think they were scared, personally. I’ve heard a lot of arguments over the years, but never confused a squawking bird for an angry person. Either way, she was on her own. So what to do? Heather is very protective of her goats, and they were hanging out in the barn, just a few hundred feet away. The possibility of a coyote getting in among them was too much to bear; she had to act and fast.

She decided that her best bet was to go into the pen and take on the coyote barehanded. Her plan was to snap its neck or try to drown it in the mud. That’s right folks, my wife was going to enter a pen containing a terrified coyote, unarmed. She thought about her goats, screwed up her courage, and started to open the pen door. Fortunately for the coyote, he was able to escape before she could get her hands on him. As soon as she entered the pen, he was able to burst through some chicken wire on one of the side walls, landing in a pile among the barking dogs. That coyote took off with Willy Mays and Choobs nipping at his heels, and hasn’t been back since.

Although the attack cost us about a dozen chickens, it did provide the inspiration for a soap name. And knowing that Heather is brave enough to face a coyote one on one makes it easier for me to face my fears. Like my fear of writing our first blog. Leave us a comment with a fear that you have overcome, and check back in soon for more tales of mischief and mayhem on the farm.


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