Mustard Pickles and being hunted by a coyote

by Michelle


It is not welcomed. After such a symphonic summer, I am not enjoying having to listen to the thunder of my own heartbeat. Especially when the thunder is caused by a coyote standing under my apple tree! I can handle deer, fox, racoon, moose, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, mice and all manner of birds but I draw the line at coyote.

Last summer, we had thirteen feral cats living in our barn. One morning Molly, our eleven year old beagle, and I were walking in the pasture beside the barn when we came across a two foot long oval of, what looked like, white fur. Later that day, I took Dad back to the spot to ask him what it was. “It was a cat.”

I was horrified.

And so began the systematic slaying of all thirteen barn cats. Night after night, we would hear ungodly screeching somewhere in the distance. When the screeching stopped, it was followed by triumphant howling.

When the last barn cat had been taken, I became very concerned about Molly. I watched her like a hawk. I knew that if the coyote got a hold of her she would stand no chance of surviving. I felt like I was at war. Every moment that I was outside, I was on super alert. However, I did take a little comfort in the thought that coyote are nocturnal. That is, until the morning that I stood looking out my kitchen window and saw a coyote lounging under a group of apple trees staring at the house.

I knew that coyote was not looking for me. I called my father and asked him to come to the farm immediately. Dad lives about half an hour away. He was sure that the coyote would be gone by the time he would get to me. Sure enough it was. However, Dad set up a target and taught me to shoot a rifle. I have been around guns all of my life but had never actually held one.

Dad is a world-class marksman. He has represented Canada at international competitions since the 1960’s. Apparently, I have a little of his ability… I pulled the trigger three times and my group was very tight. He was confident that if necessary I would be able to protect Molly.

There was no sign of the coyote for the rest of the day. As Dad was getting ready to go home, I saw the coyote skulking along the tree line of the south pasture. There was no doubt that it was hunting my dog. The primal instinct to protect completely over whelmed me.

Molly was outside laying on the veranda.

Dad told me not to move.

‘What about Molly?’

‘Don’t move!’

In less than one minute, the coyote was no longer a threat.

Understanding the natural order of  life has become my daily education at the farm. It is fascinating and upsetting at the same time. We are learning to co-exist and not interfere with the nature around us. Unless, we are being threatened…

So here we are, one year later, and the first coyote of the season has decided to venture out of the woods and sample the apples that have fallen under my apple trees. It’s raining  so Molly will be content to stay in the house with me. Hopefully by the time she needs to go out the coyote will have had its fill of apples… the circle of life.

My house smells like a pickle factory! Today I am doing pickled beets. Yesterday Mom and I tried two new Mustard Pickle recipes. They were both delicious! My recipe came from a new cookbook by Trish Magwood – In My Mother’s Kitchen. Kaitie gave it to me for my birhtday. I love the title.

This is my version of the recipe.

Bonnie’s Mustard Pickles

makes 12 – 500ml  jars

6 pickling cucumbers [4 inches long] scrubbed and cut into hunks

2 large cauliflower, cut into florets

6 medium onions, chopped

3 red peppers, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup pickling salt

Prepare vegetables and place in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Add enough boiling water to cover vegetables. Cover and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

The next day, drain and rinse the vegetables in batches. Put vegetables in large pot.

Mix together:

8 cups sugar

6 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup mustard seeds

Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil – stirring often.

In a small bowl, make a paste of:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup dried mustard

1 tablespoon turmeric

and enough of the hot vinegar from the pickles so that your paste is thin and smooth.

Stir paste into pickle mixture and stir well.

Return to a boil stirring constantly.

Boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Prepare jars by following manufacturer’s instructions.

Thanks for reading.