Enjoy the ViewCard! — Jacquie Lawson’s “Turkey in the Straw” with sound.
Tony O. 11/22/06
Last week I surprised 5 Grizzly Bears in the pasture with 20 cows and calves.
Seeing 3 or 4 bears together is common; one spots a sow with twin or triplet cubs in October and wishes them the very best eating on fallen apples, left-over pears, and vole nests. (Bears are terrible at fruit tree pruning so we shake the last of the fruit down and let them eat.)
But seeing 5 Griz together, all males about the same age and size, within 50 yards of livestock is cause for alarm, immediate action, and a review of “Bear Ed 101″ with these wayward students. One of the 5 was digging, three were just playing around, but one was making short “feint” runs at the silent cows, and the cows were now in a circle with all 20 calves in the middle! These were definitely weaned off male bears, bored and looking for —? trouble? something to eat? — and getting into a hunting and killing mode.
Moving halfway towards them in my largest white van, I opened both front doors and stepped out to act out my best “Angry Human” performance of the year. I save special 4 letter words for bears like these!
The largest and perhaps more experienced of the bunch turned, faced me, and stood up. Yep, maybe 450 to 500 pounds and a 3-5 year old male, he stood up as tall as I am. At one time I could have hit him in the chest with a football — perhaps 40 yards away. When I sent him my “arms out, claws extended, growling challenge” he dropped down, loped north to the fence, through it, and turned to summon his buddies, and three responded by following him.
But that 5th bear didn’t budge. He’d look at the cows, then look at me, then look at his friends, and then face the cows again. Time for “Bear Ed 102″! I moved the van with both doors open closer, flashed the lights, and blew the horn. Number 5 decided to join his friends, who were now leaving the road through winterberry brush and heading down into Post Creek valley.
Number 5 stood up in the road facing me. Not as tall, not as heavy, but with an attitude. Dropping down on all fours, he did not follow his buddies, but started walking slowly towards me! His massive shoulder muscles rippled and I think he’d started slobbering.
OK, time for “Bear Ed 103 practicum”. I moved the van towards him, fast, lights flashing and horn blaring, and he bolted for the brush. Stopping the van , I exited and chased him, using up the rest of my four letter vocabulary, and meanness. (Luckily, my 2 collies kept their distance behind the van — they’ve been known to chase bears and there’s always the chance a bear will turn on my dog and chase him right back — to me!)
This time, as Shakespeare wrote, “All’s well that ends well.” At age 71 I’m still the biggest, loudest, meanest, fastest and best armed grizzly old geezer in my ‘hood, and I didn’t need to advance these bears to “Bear Ed 104″ or beyond. (If you’re curious, the next lessons for this bunch would have been 12 gage “popper” or cracker shells, as dog trainers use, followed by # 9 skeet or “dust,” followed by pepper spray — see, they charge towards you at very high speed, and the closer they get the easier a face target they are!) , followed by me jumping back in my van (“The General”) and playing “Chase the Bear” with my pepper spray out the window, like one of the hot drivers in “Dukes of Hazzard”. That is, IF I make it back into my Van!
But, perhaps fortunately for me, “Bear Ed” classes have ended. Last night’s six inch snowstorm and 10° cold this morning may mean the big bears have finally hibernated. I’ll miss ‘em all winter! But not this gang of five! Next April I can probably expect to see one of more of this bunch. In 32 years here I’ve enjoyed seeing many sow and cub bears from a respectful distance and have seldom wanted to intervene in their pattern. However, inside my living space, or close to the rent-paying livestock which help partially cover my huge real estate tax bills, I do attempt to “teach” bears what’s safe for them and what’s bound to bring them discomfort, then pain, and possibly death at human hands, and from vehicles.
Five male Grizzlies together is a rare sight, and may indicate a general increase in bear numbers, and in genetic insurance. Just 25 years ago, David Rockwell’s Mission Mountain Wild Area studies advocated protecting bear habitat, not only to permit increased Grizzly numbers but to protect their genetic diversity & long term success. With too few males mating with all the available females, there was a chance of one or two dominant males breeding all the Mission female bears, and some latent genetic weakness causing a breeding failure, with a resulting crash in local Grizzly numbers. Because the Tribes initiated the Missions as the first Tribally-owned Wilderness area in America, because corridors permitting bears to move across the Swan Valley into the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wildernesses, and because the Endangered Species Act has brought public awareness and enforcement measures, it seems the Griz are here in larger numbers and perhaps in a wider genetic mix than a quarter century ago. I’m happy about that!
Tony O. 10/31/06
Hi girls and boys!
Remember playing with Lincoln Logs? We still have a bin full of them back in “boystown.” Come to find out, “Lloyd Wright,” or “Junior,” who apparently helped Thomas C. Molesworth lay out the design for the ranch Lodge, got the patent on “Lincoln Logs!” I stumbled on this being auctioned on eBay and bought it. There are drawings and a description below. Yep, I’s a “big spender!”
Love & Hugs from Mom & Dad.
Lincoln Logs … patented by the son of the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Patent art print, 1920. This US patent art print contains: 5 pages total (2 illustration & 3 text).
Tony O. 9/25/06
Hi!Friday it was 50°F and sunny at the ranch. So I raked off the asparagus beds, burned the tops for potash and to scorch the weeds, and raked up the weed and grass seedlings. Checking some fruit trees, I see cherry buds turning color and starting to come alive — way too soon if we have another deep freeze, but perhaps a sign of an early spring.
So that means it’s time to order seeds and plants, and prepare garden beds for their arrival. Just imagine how healthy we’d all be if every American planted a “Victory Garden” and a back yard orchard! For some it would mean more exercise, more fresh veggies and fruit, and less lawn to mow!
Here, we really like the heirloom seeds from organic growers like:
But it’s also a wonderful time to search for seeds and plants from places like:
And of course, read
It’s a good practice to buy locally, for acclimatized growing of native plants & crops, whenever possible. It’s wise to practice organic gardening, bio-dynamic composting and other practices proposed by Rudolf Steiner and practiced at the Waldorf Communities, and use of heirloom seeds — before we all become unintended victims of corporation seedsmen and corporate farms, and the unknowns down the road from GMO “products.”
So, while our seeds are coming in the mail, lets prepare our garden beds, and enjoy the feeling that comes from being self-sufficient, healthier, and of being productive outdoors while being independent!
Tony O. 2/6/06
Hope you’re enjoying some sunny days there again.
Tony O. 1/24/06