Blue spigot with Tetons in the background

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Jean flung the door to the office cabin open in great agitation. “We’re out of water! Call the Water Master!” (It was Sunday afternoon - unlikely to be effective). I asked mildly why we needed to call the Water Master. “Because he just put in a big irrigation system and he is stealing our water! How can you be so calm! I can’t wash the animals or water the trees in all this heat! And I can’t take a shower!” We are on well water, and like old western movies about range wars, there are still ongoing fights about water rights in this high mountain desert. There is little that riles up ranchers more than water rights. In the morning, without...

— by Susan Eirich, PhD — I bring him fresh-cut wild rose bushes as he comes over to greet me and daintily pull at the green leaves between the thorns. I stroke his long graceful neck; his smooth chestnut flanks and admire the impossibly long lashes over huge liquid brown eyes. The soft browns and grays that follow the delicate curves of his face. The lovely shape of his ears. The impossibly slender legs. He twists his flexible neck to peer back intently into my face and arches it against me in companionship. His whole being is a thing of grace and function. An exquisite creation. A little three-legged deer who can run like the wind. How can there be anything so lovely on this...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- They emerge slowly, tentatively– is it time yet? A damp nose. Sleepy little brown eyes. Fuzzy ears. One front leg reaches out of the den entrance. Followed by another. Slowly the front of the body emerges, seeming to expand as it squeezes out the narrow entrance. Half in and half out, the back arches in another streeeeeeetch. Then the back half emerges. Nothing is rushed. Once out, another long, luxurious, stretch. After all, it’s been four months…… (Bears are more like us than we think) They sniff around a bit, not too lively yet. We offer lettuce to ease their fast. They nibble half-heartedly. Their stomachs aren’t quite up to it. We give them...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- Jean came to the door with a soft concern in his brown eyes, tenderly holding what looked like an unmoving mound of cream colored feathers. It was Banty, a tough little rooster brought to his knees by the – 20 degree cold. A long-term resident, Banty had been raised by Esmerelda, a motherly turkey hen who was never able to hatch any of her own chicks. She was a splendid, ever-patient mother to him, and for her whole life he was the apple of her eye who could do no wrong. She was partial towards him even when he was a grown chicken. He was her only son. Jean had found Banty huddled on the ground in his coop, weak and unable to stand. His neck was twisted 180...

Coyote standing in tall grass

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- Willow the coyote was on her back screaming convincingly as Streak, a male, stood over her growling mightily, touching not a hair on her body. But she certainly was making him feel powerful! This was a regular occurrence in their coyote politics. The drama started very early in their relationship. Willow had been rescued from a den at a golf course and we were taking care of her in our cabin. After a couple of weeks young Streak arrived. In spite of the fact that the cabin was already her territory and he was smaller and younger, when he approached her for the first time, she looked at him, paused a moment, flipped on her back and submitted. In...

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