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A coyote chorus

NEW MEXICO

Coyotes roam freely throughout New Mexico, but finding a family of five hanging out in an Albuquerque churchyard surprised Ruth Wilson, who lives across the street and enjoys watching them. The church is in a busy part of town and so whenever police or ambulance sirens sound off -- which they do several times a week -- the coyotes howl along, much to the delight of Wilson's two young children. The coyotes seem quite at home near the church, and some Sundays they even harmonize with the choir. "They sing together, play together, and -- in their own way -- pray together."

THE NATION

Do chickens need chandeliers and a library? Neiman Marcus thinks so, or maybe the store just wanted to bulk up its Versailles-inspired Beau Coop Heritage Hen Mini Farm -- a bargain for up to 10 birds at $100,000.

WYOMING

A "mean, grumpy, upset, excited" bull that didn't want to be put on the auction block escaped from a livestock sale in Worland, Wyo. Unfortunately, its race to freedom ended after a two-mile run, when the bull walked through the open door of a home and downstairs into the basement, reports The Associated Press. "Police and auction workers were on his tail but couldn't get him out," adds the Northern Wyoming Daily News. It took a tranquilizer dart to calm the 1,400-pound animal, which "left behind quite a bit of damage," meaning it probably wasn't the only "mean, grumpy, upset, excited" mammal on the premises.

MONTANA

The moral of this story is: Don't take a nap in a cornfield. A man did so recently in Billings, Mont., and got run over by a combine, which "sucked him into the cutter," reports the Billings Gazette. Amazingly, the 57-year-old, who was just passing through town, survived after the farmer disconnected the auger and manually turned the blades away from the man, who suffered deep lacerations. "For this situation, the man is incredibly lucky to be alive," said Yellowstone County Sheriff Lt. Kent O'Donnell. "And that's about all you can say about that."

From our friends

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— Dr. Stephanie Pincetl, UCLA

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor