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March 4, 2013: Moose Sightings—a Right of Spring

It’s nearly spring. The moose are restless. And they’re now seemingly everywhere – in the yard, on the hill, at the driveway’s edge, behind berms, and tucked in the nearby woods. I see them when we’re out for drives, or when I’m out riding. If I rode taller horses, I’d see more of them. The horses must now think a moose sighting is a routine thing, because they now pass them quietly.

Had a moose sighting this morning. As usual, first thing, I went down to clean the pen. I was half-awake—still mulling over my recent dreams. The horses were milling about, eager for breakfast. I did a head count. Everyone was present. No one was lame or out of sorts. There were the requisite piles of poop. The water buckets needed filling. It was to be a morning of business as usual.

I feed the horses, busted the ice in the water buckets, and then grabbed the snow sled, shovel, and rake. I then made for the uppermost shelter, the one that Pete built last summer. I was picking up a pile of Hrimmi’s cute little turds when I heard the sound of crunching branches. I looked up and then jumped backwards. There, before me, on the far side of the fence was a young female moose. She wasn’t startled because she knew all along that I was there.

This was as close as I’d ever been to a moose. Moosey (this was my name for

her) had a white splotch on her muzzle, and her coat was the color of toast, that is several shades of brown. She had very high, hump-like withers, and very long legs.

I said good morning. Moosey didn’t respond the way horses do, which is with some curiosity; rather, she kept eating. I decided to go back up to the house grab the camera and take a few photos. Moosey was checking out the new compost station upon my return. There was obviously nothing tasty in there, which was why she ambled on down to the driveway’s edge. Rainbow then appeared and began barking. Moosey, unphased, walked past her, took a right at the barn driveway, and sauntered over to the trailer.

Moosey then took in me and my body guards Siggi, Ranger, and Rover. (They’d all come over to check things out.) Raudi then joined us, but after seeing that it was just a moose, went to chase Signy away from her hay pile. I think she figured that we had things under control.

Moosey then wandered over to the new hayshed and began munching on the outermost bales. I was, I realized, trapped since she blocked the trail leading back up to the upper driveway So I hung out with horse and goats and continued to take photos.

Pete, seeing as I was now late for breakfast, came down to the enclosure, water buckets in hand. He saw that Moosey was eating the hay (hay is bad for moose) and offered to move the bales away from the shed wall. I said I’d take care of it, and I did. My entering the shed scared Moosey, who clambered off. I then went back up to the cabin.

Moosey (of course) didn’t charge, trample, or maim any of us. I think all she wanted was to eat her breakfast in peace. I did feel bad that she wasn’t fully allowed to do so. But there will be other browse.

I feel privileged to live in a place where moose abound. I lived in the city as a kid—the only wildlife I ever saw were sparrows, who were in abundance. If someone had told me when I was ten that I’d someday live in a place in which moose inhabited the area, I’d have been incredulous. I’m still incredulous. I will never, ever take such things for granted.

I have learned the easy way to be cautious when in the presence of Moosey and her close and distant relatives. Like horses, moose are reactive, actually even more so. I want to someday write a book entitled Moose Survival 101. This will provide Alaska residents and tourists with behavioral background information on our ungulate friends. But first, I have other projects that need to be finished.

Next: 64. 3/5/13: Hrimfara at Ten Months