On the prowl

I stumble through the soft snow as fast as I can, making for the alarmed cackling and fluttering at the chicken coop. My legs keep slipping sideways off the packed path. I'm lurching around like a drunk, forcibly intoxicated by melting snow.

I stumble through the soft snow as fast as I can, making for the alarmed cackling and fluttering at the chicken coop. My legs keep slipping sideways off the packed path. I’m lurching around like a drunk, forcibly intoxicated by melting snow. At long last, I gain the garden. The raised beds look like wintry burial mounds waiting for the moment of reincarnation. Just a few more metres to the coop where everything is ominously silent now.

It was probably just an outbreak of spring fever, all that commotion. As I reach into my gumboots and scoop out handfuls of snow, the dented wire of the chicken run catches my eye. When did that happen? One panel of chicken wire is deeply caved in, a few strands are broken. Light-coloured hairs stick to the wire. One of our dogs in a moment of recklessness?

I heave open the door to the coop. Musty feather smells and the mixed aroma of hay and manure waft out on an undercurrent of flustered cackling. The hens don’t rush at me in their usual maniac mob mentality, every visit a potential feeding to them. Instead, they flutter up to their perches or huddle into the far corner. Something spooked them, but at least they’re all accounted for.

Of course they are, there is no blood out in the run and no hole in the wire large enough to squeeze a chicken through. I lock their door to the outside and check out the soft snow. Big hollows where something jumped at the fence and bounced off again. Roundish holes where something walked, not a dog. I spin around, the feeling of somebody’s eyes drilling into the back of my head suddenly overwhelming. Where?

He crouches in the snow, pointy ears sticking up, pale lantern eyes fixed on mine. A lynx, would-be chicken thief, even though a robust snowshoe hare population thrives all over the garden. Anyway, easy enough to scare off. I give an impressive roar (I think) and whip my arms into the air, take great bouncy strides at the intruder. The lynx rises to his oversized paws slowly and turns, reluctantly almost, his head following the direction of his body last. He jogs through the snow for a few metres, ducks under a deadfall and doesn’t emerge on the other side.

Aha, he wants to hide and lie in wait. I stagger after him, collecting bootfuls of snow with each step, yelling and making a general spectacle of myself. Just before I reach the tree trunk that’s hiding the cat, he slips out from underneath and walks off into a different direction, again disappearing under a fallen tree. If at least he’d have the decency to run! But he seems completely unimpressed with my pursuit. I can’t shake the feeling that the minute I walk back to the cabin, he’ll saunter right up to the chicken run, bed down in the snow and wait for his next chance.

Ammunition. I need to throw things at him, in the time-honoured way of aggressive monkeys and apes. The snow is wet and cold in my hands, solidifying into a heavy ball. I change tactics and wander up to the tree the lynx is under slowly, then give a bloodcurdling yell (I think) and as my foe emerges, I hurl the snowball at him. And miss. Hate to say it, but I do throw like the proverbial girl.

And on it goes, the unbalanced pursuit of a nonchalant cat by an increasingly wet-footed human. Eventually, having been led on an interesting zigzag course of our garden’s hinterland, I give up. The lynx is still lying in hiding somewhere, but I won’t play anymore. There’s frostbite and toe-amputation to consider, after all.

I reach the chicken run and decide that a few days of coop arrest, combined with a double reinforcement of the chicken wire around the run will be the wisest course of action. The lynx should get bored and, hopefully find the thriving rabbit population an easier target, plus find any more efforts at chicken hunting repealed by the beefed-up wire. Sounds like a plan.

Forget those old wives’ tales of wilderness living, all the supposed problems with bears and wolves. Mice, mosquitoes and blackflies are what you’ll want to watch out for. And maybe the odd lynx.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read