Skip to Content

Farm Life: Embracing the Untamed Essence

For me, one of the advantages of residing in the rural area is the diverse wildlife that coexists with us.

Several avian and quadruped creatures have made our farmstead their permanent home, while others are seasonal visitors that grace our neighborhood during specific times of the year.

Depending on the species of animal, I have preferences regarding their proximity; some I’d rather keep at a distance, while others are more than welcome to share our yard.

The initial spring visitor falls into the former category. A few days back, as I observed our golden retrievers getting agitated and alerting us to the presence of an intruder from inside the house, I initially mistook the black and white animal waddling up the driveway for a stray cat.

A skunk is in the grass between two evergreen trees.

A skunk in the front yard deterred Ann Bailey from stepping outside for her routine walk. Ann Bailey / Agweek

However, upon closer inspection, I noticed the distinctive stripes on the creature. Although I intended to take my daily walk with the dogs, I refrained from venturing out when I realized that the skunk had relocated to the other side of the farmyard.

Being confined indoors by a creature much smaller in size than myself, Nova, and Casey was indeed frustrating. It seemed prudent not to risk encountering the skunk’s notorious odor. Consequently, that evening, my husband, Brian, calmly guided the skunk out of the farmyard from a safe distance, steering it towards the trees across the road, hoping to put an end to the encounter.

The skunk made a comeback the following day, briefly wandering around the farmstead before disappearing, leaving us hopeful that it had moved on for good. Despite this, I remain cautious, peeking through the window before opening the porch door, ensuring that we won’t be joined by our black-and-white striped visitor when the dogs and I step outside.

Another wild creature that triggers a commotion among our dogs, despite its small size, is the bunny residing in the trees behind our house. A rabbit sighting sparks the hunting instincts in our golden retrievers, particularly Nova, who is always eager to spring into action at the sight of one. Whether she’s perched on the sofa barking vehemently at the bunny through the window or outside pulling on her leash towards it, her determination to chase them away works in our favor. If her antics intimidate the bunny enough to keep it away from our delicate tulip shoots—previously decimated by the bunny last year—it provides a simple solution to deter the bunny without resorting to force.

A moose drinks water in a swamp.

A young moose quenching its thirst in a wetland area adjacent to a road. Ann Bailey / Agweek

Away from the immediate farmstead vicinity, we were privileged to witness a couple of moose sightings this spring. The young moose seemed unperturbed by passing cars or onlookers stopping nearby. On one occasion, as I paused to capture a picture, the moose briefly acknowledged my presence before serenely returning to its water-drinking activities in a slough beside the road.

To dispel any notion of recklessness in approaching large, wild animals for a photograph, I want to clarify that I remained inside the car and took the picture through the open passenger side window. While there was a slight risk of the moose charging at the vehicle, I was prepared to drive off before any harm could be done.

Although encounters with skunks are not particularly welcome, I find joy in observing the diverse array of creatures, both big and small, that inhabit our farmstead, transiently visit our neighborhood, or soar above it. I eagerly anticipate the next wildlife encounter.

Ann Bailey is a resident of a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., which has been a part of her family since 1911. She can be contacted at 218-779-8093 or [email protected].

With close to four decades of experience in journalism, Ann has covered a wide range of topics including agriculture and business. For story ideas or inquiries, reach out to Ann via email at: [email protected] or phone at: 218-779-8093.