Moose In the Yard

Yesterday morning, Michelle and I lingered over our morning mug up, chatting about plans for a new fire pit on the beach and enjoying the sunlight streaming in through the front windows. From my seat, I had a clear view of the dooryard through the window behind Michelle. Suddenly, into that view loomed a big, furry battleship of an object.

“Uh,” I observed cleverly, “there’s a moose!”

Sure ‘nough. A big cow moose, with a large, leggy calf in tow, began to browse on the birch suckers in the dooryard.

Spice checks out Mama Moose, who is checking her out in turn.

I am never prepared for the great size of these beasts. They always take me by surprise. Michelle called to Aly upstairs, we grabbed our cameras, and started snapping photos like a bunch of tourists. Unfortunately, they turned out to be tourist-quality, too. After a winter of sea spray, our windows aren’t the best medium through which to take photos.

Spice, our younger, “adventure kitty” hopped up on the back of the couch for a better view, and seemed rather startled by what she found. She didn’t quite seem to know what to make of the moose.

We went out into the arctic entryway for a better look. We stood within a couple of yards of the two visitors. It pleased me to realize the calf was a male. If he sticks around, he’ll be a strapping yearling by autumn, possibly with a legal antler configuration.

Wildlife photography through a dusty screen door just doesn't hack it.

It was a Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom moment, until they began moving toward the cherry trees. At that point, our neighborliness reached its limit. Our cherry trees are just now recovered from the pruning a couple of moose gave them three years ago. We aren’t about to let that happen again. It was time to defend our property.

I came out the door shouting, bellowing deep from my chest and waving my arms. The pair beat a hasty retreat into the backyard, near the garden. I came after them, making sure I had plenty of places to dodge and hide should I overdo it and prompt Mama Moose to defend her calf. She turned and faced me, standing squarely between her retreating offspring and me. I stood my ground and continued to yell. She considered me for a moment, then they turned and left straight up the steep slope toward the trail.

The family regrouped to debrief, and to enjoy the mutual adrenaline rush. We had a moment of concern when we realized the porcupine fence around the lilac we’d planted in Mom’s memory was crushed. We inspected it, and found the lilac untouched—I think the cow backed into it while keeping an eye on us through the window. I checked the birch, and she only got a few bites before we attracted her attention.

We chased the calf off just after nightfall. I may have seen the cow as well, but I’m not sure. We covered the cherry trees and the lilac with netting and sacking. They came back again around 11:00 p.m., and I just barely drove them off up the hill. Looks like we’ll be on high alert for a while. My throat’s getting sore from yelling at them.

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