Archive for the ‘bear’ Category

Note to Self: Don’t Be Stupid

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Remember I told you bears took out our bird feeders about 9 years ago? Well, they surely did. And Bernie and I agreed that bird feeders are not a good idea out here.

But we had an especially brutal winter this year, so I decided since it had been a while since we’d had any bear issues, it was safe to put out our bird feeders once again.

I should have known better.

Sunday morning Bernie took the pups out to potty about 6AM. And when he came back inside he informed me a bear was interested in my bird feeders, too.

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Apparently, he was especially interested in the fruit and nut mixture.

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And especially liked the suet that was hanging from these mangled hooks – one of which we’ve yet to find.

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It appears he decided to go over this chicken wire and flatten my poor Hosta and a few other plants to begin with.

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And then we noticed this.

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Those would be the chicken feeder and scratch scoop I keep in the cans in the chicken run.

And then we saw this.

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And that’s not actually the worst part.

After assessing the bear damage, we went back to check on the goats. The baby goats are locked in their stall at night, but Mirrie is free to be inside the goat barn or roam.

She usually greets me in her paddock every morning,

But not this morning.

I called for her and there wasn’t a peep out of her, or even the baby goats, who usually scream when they hear my voice.

It was dead silent.

We found Mirrie inside the goat barn, huddled in a corner, trembling from nose to tail.

Having recently lost Georgia, we were very concerned.

I was convinced she had a fever. So we called our vet to come out and check on her.

He was here in short order. She was still trembling. But she had no fever. And he found absolutely NOTHING wrong with her.

We suspect Mirrie saw the bear. We have no idea if or how they interacted, but there is almost no doubt her symptoms were bear related.

It took her a full 24 hours to start eating, drinking, and acting normally again.

And this is a sweet sight for me right now.

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So is this.

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The babies were locked up tight, but they were still very unsettled Sunday morning.

We have bears here. I know this. I’ve posted pictures of them in this very blog – while they were in this very yard. I had hoped with all the yard activity and bird feeders so close to the house, that it wouldn’t be a bear issue.

But it was.

Lesson learned.

Take it from me.

If you have bears in your area, don’t keep bird feeders out when the bears are likely to roam around. And tuck in tightly any other type of animal feed you have, and anything else that might attract bears.

I’ll put my bird feeders out during the winter months, and be sure to take them in before the bears start stirring.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Please do yourself a favor, and learn this one from me.

In spite of all the stress this bear brought to us, good things are happening around here…….

It wouldn’t truly be spring here without baby chicks, right? And we’ve got seven of them right now!

This mama hatched out 3 babies yesterday.

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And this mama hatched out 4 babies yesterday.

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I have another hen on three eggs due to hatch in two weeks.

And I have a coop full of other broodies who are too mean for me to let hatch out chicks.

It’s spring.

Critters are doing what critters do.

And I’m dealing with what critters do, and I’m loving it for the most part.

If I can just remember not to be stupid.

Those Steaks Would Tempt a Bear

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

We’ve been busy on the homestead since I last wrote, and I honestly can’t tell you what we’ve been doing. The past week has been a blur of activity. We spent the weekend moving stuff into and organizing our sheds. My garden shed now contains everything pertaining to gardening and caring for chickens, and Bernie’s workshop barn shed now contains everything pertaining to… well…. workshop stuff. So now, when I need a hammer, rather than searching under the kitchen sink, the garage, the sea container, or any number of other places, I can go right into Bernie’s barn shed and know I’ll find a hammer. The truth is, when I need a hammer I typically grab a shoe. But it brings Bernie joy to envision me needing a hammer and going to his barn shed and finding it there – and then actually using the hammer instead of a shoe. So let’s just pretend that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Yesterday was Bernie’s birthday. Yay! Happy Birthday, Bernie! We decided to grill a couple of nice steaks to celebrate, and afterwards, being the wonderful wife that I am, I did the dishes all by myself while he relaxed and informed me how I wasn’t doing them right.

A side note to the wives out there – Ladies, never relinquish your kitchen to your husband under the delusion that life will be grand with him cooking and doing dishes for you. Not if you ever plan to step foot into your kitchen again. He will take over and you will never be able to live up to his expectations in the kitchen again.

After we ate and relaxed a bit, I went in to brush my teeth around 8PM. In the middle of it, Bernie walked into the bathroom and said “There’s a bear at the compost pile.” I quickly wiped my face and ran into the living room to look out the window. Sure enough, there was a bear at the compost pile. He was sitting on his rear with his legs in front of him, just staring at the compost. I ran in to get my camera, and when I got back he was standing up sniffing at the compost:


He only stayed there a few seconds, and then started to walk off. Then he stopped and stared at us in the window:


And then he made a beeline for the grill we had left outside to cool off:


We’ve only left the grill outside overnight one time – and we awoke to the sound of bears knocking it over and getting into it in the middle of the night. We don’t leave it outside overnight any more. So when we saw the bear heading towards the grill last night, Bernie decided enough was enough. He walked outside and clapped his hands and yelled something like “Hey Bear! Hey Bear!” and the bear quickly high tailed it right on out of the yard:


Bernie decided the grill was cool enough and promptly locked it inside the shed.

The chicks turned four weeks old last Saturday. I took pictures this afternoon so I can show you how big they are getting. Their feathers are coming in beautifully. Between four and six weeks, I understand that I should be able to identify the roosters. Their combs should be larger and pinker than the hens, among several other things. I put several pictures up on the Back to Basic Living website, and a few of them show the differences between hens and what I believe are my roosters. Even if I’m wrong, the pictures are darn cute, so check them out anyway.

Here’s a picture of either a Phoenix or a Silver Leghorn. Although I can see difference in the two now, I still can not tell which is which. They are both good looking birds though!


This here is a picture of a Phoenix/Leghorn on the left, and a Penciled Hamburg on the right:


The Hamburgs are beautiful chicks and the picture does not do their feather colors any justice. While they remain the most skittish, they really are pretty and friendly, if I don’t make any sudden movements.

And here’s Duke the Big Roo:


That boy is huge. Just get a load of the size of those feet! He’s the only one that I make certain I pick up each time I enter the coop. He is obviously a very large rooster and I am determined to establish that I have the upper hand with him. He protested a bit at first, but he’s coming around and actually comes running to me when I sit down, even knowing that he will get picked up. You may also notice that his comb is quite large and quite pink. I’m sure I don’t have to mention how incredibly good looking that boy is.

Lucy, Amelia, Echo, and the other Black Spanish are doing just fine. I tried to get pictures of them, but they spend most of their time on my shoulders or head, so that complicated matters a bit. I think I did manage to get one or two pictures of them and put them up on the website. I don’t want to bog your computer down with many more pictures on this blog entry. Lucy is no longer the runt. She has really grown and is feathering out very nicely. She’s still full of spunk and doesn’t take anything off anyone. She’s always been one tough little bird. I’m sure that’s exactly what helped her survive. I often question how many of the other chicks will survive if they tick her off and face her wrath. She has quite a little temper.

We have lots of activity here on the homestead. Vegetables are coming in, chickens are growing, bears are visiting, and stuff is getting accomplished. There’s never a dull moment around here. I kind of like it that way.

Bee Free,

When Good Chicks Go Bad – and Bear Neccessities

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Several people have told me that their chicks just love banana as a special treat. Well, being the wonderful Mother Hen that I am, I decided to treat my little precious peeps to a few chunks of banana. I sliced them up very small, sprinkled a little grit on them, put them in a little container, and slid them into the coop. You would have thought I was trying to feed them arsenic. They took off in a flurry of fuzzness to the complete opposite end of the brooder, huddled together in the corner, and glared at me. I tried putting some in my hand and coaxing them to me, but they would have nothing to do with it. Even little Lucy was suspicious. She came over and pecked around my hand, but would get no where near that banana. I’m not sure if this is a sign that I’ll have picky eaters, or if I am not doing a very good job of teaching them to expand their horizons by trying new and different things.

One morning last week, I awoke to A LOT of noise coming from the spare room where the brooder is. When I opened the door to the room, I obviously surprised the peeps and they froze in place. I had caught them in the middle of a Wild Chick Party! It looked like a scene from “When Good Chicks Go Bad”. Both feeders were empty and feed was scattered all over the brooder. Their waterer was filled with poop and pine shavings, and the mirror had been knocked over. The place was a mess! As I cleaned it up I scolded them and explained that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. Any chicken under 6 months of age is not allowed to stay up all night and party in this house. It will not be tolerated! As I left the room, I swear I saw 3 of them roll their eyes at me. Honestly – chicks these days!

This morning, Bernie came in to ask me if I had looked outside at my composter today. I immediately knew something was not right. We went outside and found that the composter had obviously been attacked by a bear. He ripped the lid open and busted the clasp that locked it shut. I think he was after the shrimp shells I put in there yesterday. Shrimp shells have no fat or grease, and they compost beautifully. I’ve added them many times in the past and never had any issues with the bears before. I guess this bear really had a hankering for sea food. Bernie is outside building me another composter right now.

For some reason, the bear also decided to remove the cover from the box that houses the control valve for our septic system. He didn’t do any damage – he just removed the cover. It weighs somewhere around 10 – 15 pounds, so he had to be fairly determined to get it off. Bernie thinks he may have found some bugs around it and was digging for them. I’m just glad he didn’t mess with anything inside the box. You can see pictures of the damage to the composter on the Back to Basic Living website. Scroll down to the bottom.

When I came back in from taking pictures of the bear damage, I paused to once again remind Elvis and Priscilla how darn lucky they are to be house cats, how good they have it inside, and that they should be grateful that they aren’t bear food. Elvis threw his arm in the air in a “Talk to the Paw” response:


And then he went back to sleep:


I’m at my wits end with these kids.

Bee Free,

Plan B is in Effect

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Well, after trying to sell our home in town for over a year, we’ve decided to go to Plan B. As much as we had hoped and planned to sell the house and use that money to pay off all debt before we move to our homestead, circumstances have led us to realize that it really makes more sense for us to move forward. Bernie has resigned from his job effective August 31. Three more weeks, and we’ll be on our homestead permanently.

I will keep my job for now so that we can continue to meet all of our financial obligations. It will be a little tight, but it is certainly doable. In the meantime, Bernie will slowly move our belongings out to the homestead, and clean and paint our home in town. Maybe it will sell more quickly if it is empty. I’m happy that we’ll finally be on our homestead and I can realize my dream of having chickens and goats. Bernie’s happy that he’ll no longer have to wake up to a 3:15AM alarm clock. We’re both happy that we no longer have to remember what food, furniture, tools, and clothing we have at one place or the other. We stay perpetually confused about where our “stuff” is.

It was a nice weekend on the homestead. We went out Thursday night and enjoyed a nice, quiet, relaxing evening. It helped that there was no sign of bears. Then we went to Natural Bridge, VA on Friday for a Governor’s Motorcycle Advisory Council meeting that Bernie had. The meetings are open to the public, so I decided to attend since it was being held in such a cool place. If you’ve never been to Natural Bridge, it’s worth visiting. It has been listed as one of the “Natural Wonders” of the world. Very scenic. We rode our bikes down and although I confess to being very partial to Virginia, I will still say that there really is not a more beautiful state. Every state has something to offer, but I think Virginia has it all. And it’s so darn pretty.

At any rate, we stayed Friday night at the Natural Bridge Hotel and it was awesome. The hotel is completely biker friendly and the guests just seemed to be there to enjoy life and have a good time. We made new friends from as close as neighboring counties in Virginia and as far away as New York and from other places that we never thought to ask about. Some were bikers and some were not. It was a really super stay in a really beautiful place. I give it four out of five stars – and that’s only because the rooms could use just a little renovation.

We arrived back to the homestead Saturday morning and enjoyed a relaxing day. This morning we got up and got busy with the bees again. You can read about it on The Bee Buzz.

We had another great weekend on the homestead – and it only made it more enjoyable realizing that we will only be leaving it two more times before being there permanently! You’ll be hearing a lot more from me after that – you lucky dawgs.

Bee Free,

OK Bears – This Means War

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

We arrived this weekend to find our spare hive parts torn apart and strewn around. Dadgum bears! I wrote about it and put some pictures up on The Bee Buzz. Today we did an inspection of the apiary and found that someone had been messing around the electric fence. I really hate to give bears a bad name, but there is no question it was a bear that wreaked havoc with that fence. The ground wire was still attached, but hanging and most of the insulator posts were broken – undoubtedly from the pressure of some large butt animal hanging on or tearing at the electric wire.

These bears have about ceased being cute. They may want to talk to the mice around here. I declared war on those little rodents and I won!! I am now officially declaring war on these bears. It is about time for us to start robbing honey and I’ll be darned if we’ll share it with bears.

On the upside, the girls are doing great! They are buzzing happily about. In fact, several of them are spending a great deal of time up here cleaning up the mess the bear made. I just love these little bees – they are so darn efficient. And cute as little buttons!

We mowed today – early. It was 90 degrees by noon. Then we went into town to get some items to repair the electric fence around the apiary and to hang out in some free air conditioning for a while. We came home and I made some nice bath salts that I’m giving for gifts. Then Bernie got his oak burning grill fired up and we grilled some corn, burgers, dogs, and ribs. Man – that’s some good eating there.

Tomorrow we’ll repair the apiary fence and open up our weak hive to see how it’s doing. We have 7 supers ready to rob right now. We’ll get on that in the next weekend or two.

Bee Free,

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s……. A Bear!!!!

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Well, after finding bear poop in the yard many times and seeing, first hand, the destruction they can cause to bird feeders, I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising that we actually saw a bear in the yard this weekend.

But it was surprising. At least it was to me. My niece and great-niece came up for a visit and we were enjoying Saturday afternoon just visiting in the living room. Bernie was out greasing his backhoe and all felt very calm on the homestead. I glanced out the living room window just in time to see a big black butt walking past the window. My first thought was “Now what is that huge dog doing in this yard?” followed immediately by the thought “Wow – that’s the biggest black dog I’ve ever seen” followed immediately by me screaming “Bear! There’s a bear!”. The three of us jumped to our feet. My niece ran to get her camera. My great niece ran to the window to get a better look. I ran to the front door and screamed “Bernie! Bear! Bernie! Bear!” frantically waving for him to get inside and look.

We all gathered at the window and I pointed and said “There he is – wait – where is he?” My eight year old great-niece looked at me and said “When you screamed for Bernie he took off running. That way. He ran fast and now he’s gone.” Doh!

After we all calmed down Bernie and I realized that the direction he was traveling was straight for the apiary. That worried us a bit. But we checked on the bees several times over the weekend and they were just fine. Probably the bear was just thirsty and headed for the creek for some water. I imagine his ears are still ringing from my shrill screaming to get Bernie inside.

Other than that the weekend was relatively calm. I did manage to render wax and I wrote about it on The Bee Buzz. I’ll try to get pictures up of the whole process in the next week or so. My niece got a picture of the little fawns looking for food in the backyard and she seemed pretty happy about that. My great-niece seemed more interested in the rabbits that ran about when I took her for rides in the Trail Blazer.

All in all, we had a great weekend on the homestead. Great company with lots of laughs and plenty of hugs. And we saw a bear! I really hope he doesn’t make visiting us a habit. He could ask his deer friends about the result of that. Bear season is at a good time of year……

Bee Free,