Sunday, October 15, 2006

bears in the woods, rats under the porch

My neighbor thinks he has bears in his back yard (I guess that's sort of like saying, if you live in the city, 'I think I have rats under my back porch').

Except, don't you think, having bears seems so much more romantic than having rats? More pastoral. I don't know why but vaguely like reading Wordsworth. Somehow more 'clean' and wholesome than having rats? Rats are definitely, I'd say, more Ginsbergish.

(Sometime I should tell the story about going to hear Allen Ginsberg give a poetry reading at the University of Colorado in the early 70's. At the time I was working the oilfields over by Utah and several other roughnecks and I drove the six hours to Boulder to hear him. When we got there we could hardly find a seat because the auditorium was full of several thousand CU students. The auditorium didn't, however, stay full for long. In less than ten minutes of Allen creating images that must have seen to the students as horrifying as waking up to find their beds alive with rats - definitely rats and not bears - to cause most of students to get up and run from the auditorium. Leaving, well, leaving just a half dozen of us oil field roughnecks and maybe four or five dozen others to move up to the front of the room and enjoy what turned out to be a memorable evening of Ginsberg's poetry).

But really...

Back to rats and bears.

I mean, let's think about it for a moment. Rats dig holes to live in. Bears dig holes looking for food. (a sign that you 'have bears' is that there are holes dug up in the woods, holes a couple feet deep where once things like termites or ants and maybe even yellow jacket lived).

Rats get into the trash and eat your food if you don't have it properly secured.

Same with the bears.

Now, for whatever reason, we don't really have a rat problem out here in the country. I suspect, though, the reason is that out here there are too many predators that would love to feed on tasty, fairly defenseless, little rodents. Rats, I suspect like to live in the pleasant safety of cities where the foxes, bobcats, coyotes and hawks have all been eliminated.

Out in the country rodents have to be a lot more careful than they do in the city. Running from a building to a dumpster could be much more risky if there were the occasional red-tailed hawk waiting to drop out of the sky with its claws bared.

But back to my neighbors bears. I haven't seen them this year (knock on wood) but people that have say there's a mother and two cubs (you'd think the cubs are getting pretty big by now, they've been around for over a year now, how old are they when their mother kicks them out?).

All of the bear sightings, though, are over a mile away. And bears, I've read, usually only settle down to one square mile.

Last year, though, we had a fairly large bear that had acquired a taste for what's to be found inside of beehives. (did you know that bears aren't particularly interested in honey. I mean, sure, they will eat honey but given the chance, the choice between a comb of honey and a frame chocked full of bee larva, bears will go for larva almost every time.

In other-words bears would much rather have a steak than a chocolate torte.

So let's stop right there and discuss honey, and this week's farm news.

A. Pumpkin pick. 12 noon. Shareholders come out with your children (or with your internal child) and I will point you in the right direction and you walk out in the field where the pumpkins are and pick the one you want and carry it out of the field back to your car. There's only going to be one pumpkin per family. Sorry! (I'm probably going to have to 'augment' to get up to that number of pumpkins)

B. Gleaning. After our last pick up day which is the morning of October 21st, we are still (unless there is a hard frost before then) going to be a lot of vegetables out in the fields. We will start the gleaning after the pumpkin pick. So let's say 12:30.
Shareholders come out with your vegetable bag (or another equivalent carrying container) and I will have a map of where the different vegetables are. You head out and harvest what you want. Vegetables you might find: lettuce, mustard, pac choi, bell peppers, hot peppers, stuffing peppers, eggplant (Thai, Japanese, Italian), tomatillos, parsley, sorrel, radishes, diakon radishes (plenty of them out there but not ripe enough for the shares), basil, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, walnuts. You might need scissors to cut greens. I have some shovels if you are interested in digging sweet potatoes

Of course I'm not guaranteeing you will find any of these vegetables but my guess is that unless we have a frost there will be several truck loads of vegetables still in the field when the season ends this year.

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