I think I’ve told you before about our resident Mountain Lion. We were calling him Joaquin until he showed up with two babies. Then John the Baptist dubbed her “Miss Kitty”. Which is very fitting. Because just like the old Gunsmoke saloon owner, Miss Kitty, has a soft as well as a dangerous side. The ripped up deer carcasses are testament to the danger. The fact that we’ve coexisted happily for a number of years is proof of her gentle side. We don’t foolishly go out wandering around in her territory during her hunting hours and she doesn’t come out in the day and kill us or the dogs

So far, it’s all working out despite some close encounters. Three times the workmen have seen her. I saw a large brown streak over by the garage one evening that was too low to be a deer. Judging by the frenzied yapping of the terriers (and the fact that Lucy immediately hid under the claw foot bathtub), I’d say it was Miss Kitty. The closest encounter was one winter morning when John went down to the creek and found a ripped open deer carcass still steaming. He ran backwards up the hill because John knows better than to turn his back on a Mountain Lion. Within three minutes, he came back with three other guys. The full grown deer carcass had been ripped in half and carried away. Clearly, Miss Kitty had been right nearby watching John the whole time. Instead of savaging him, she politely waited until he was gone and took her breakfast elsewhere.

Lately, the deer have been clustering around the barn and the pasture in large groups. Which is usually a sign that Miss Kitty is elsewhere. Not anymore.

mountain lion poo

I found this very large meat eater’s poo in the vineyard. I forgot to put my foot in the picture for scale, but trust me. It’s way too big for a terrier.

Did I mention it was in the vineyard? As in, within a place protected by an 8 foot deer-proof fence. Apparently Mountain Lions can jump and clamber over a fence even deer can’t clear. Guess that’s the end of my working at dusk within the vineyard in the mistaken belief that the terriers and I were protected.

Then yesterday, in the powdery dust of the road up to the vineyard…

mountain lion tracks

Several sets of large cat tracks criss-crossing each other up on their way to the vineyard. (John’s car is shown for scale.)

cougar track

This track was as big as my hand. Note how the claws have dug in as Miss Kitty gathered herself for the jump.

Yipes! We’re hoping Miss Kitty is still abiding by the terms of our detente. And that she’s instilling those values in the one or two young cubs who seem to be traveling with her. I have to spray compost tea on my garden sometime after the sun has set. John’s accompanying me with a gun. The terriers, who might be mistaken for appetizers, will stay behind.

Miss Kitty, if you are reading this blog, there are plenty of deer on the rest of the property. No reason to scale the vineyard fence. Unless you have a taste for Cabernet, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault. I hear any one of those goes well with venison. But not well with terrier. Or human.