Sunday, June 24, 2007


I’ve been thinking about water again. I mean, while it did rain, some,(2/10ths of an inch) we are back out there watering, constantly.

Sprinklers going round and round, drip tapes dripping. We’re putting a thousand gallons an hour out on the fields

Every hour.

Or almost every hour (actually, right now, about 15,000 gallons a day, give us some time to move the sprinklers around and maybe, sometimes, get a little sleep at night).

And while we are, as fast as we can, spreading water on our fields, I was worrying that, you know, this is on the verge of not being enough.

I mean, what if suddenly the amount of water coming out of the ground were to slow down?

Where would we be then?

The creek that goes through the bottom of our land has virtually stopped flowing.

There’s only a trickle going through the pipe where it crosses the drive.

And the weather says there’s no sign of measurable rain in the foreseeable future.

This morning I read an article about Australia’s recent drought. (Wenonah says its not recent, ‘its on going’). A drought that’s setting something like a thousand year drought record.

Wow. That’s something to give you pause. It hasn’t been this dry down there in a thousand years.

Meaning, it’s really, really dry.

In the best of times most of Australia except for those little specks of land where the majority of the population lives, is near desert.

Sand, wind and flies.

Imagine what its like with the worst drought in a millennium?).

Anyway, back to North America and water.

Wenonah is always saying that exporting food is really exporting water by another name. That when we get our winter vegetables from South America what we are really doing is getting South America’s water with a little bit of value added.

And this goes for Europe too. When the Europeans get their vegetables from Africa they are getting African water.

And when Bush and all of those congressmen line up to sign legislation designed to create liquid fuel out of corn and whatever other vegetable crop they imagine turning into something to burn what they are really doing is converting our natural water supply into something else.

I’ve heard that for Bush’s dream of vegetable based fuel we will need to put additional farmland the equivalent of most of Iowa and Nebraska into production.

Only, we don’t have that much additional farmland.

And we especially don’t have that much farmland with irrigation water.

In fact, right now, we are pumping more water out of the ground than is being replaced.

And as we move into a world of less water, I mean a world of constant water shortage, this is something we should be seriously considering as we make our energy and food choices.

Leigh Hauter

Thursday, June 21, 2007

more bear stories

My step-son and daughter who live in Nethers, the crossroads just before you get to the base of Old Rag, don’t think much of my bear story.

“We have as many bears out here as you have deer around the farm. Or, how about this, we have as many bears as the people in the city have rats running in the street.” I was told last weekend.

“And we have bigger bear stories too. In fact last week a friend from New York City was out in the yard when, suddenly, right in front of him, a huge momma bear and her three cubs steps out of the bushes.

“Momma stood up on her back legs right in front of him and she must have stood ten feet tall.

‘Our friend took off for the house where he stayed for the rest of the day. He says they don’t have black bears, or any other sort of bear in Central Park.’

Even Wenonah has to out do my bear stories. Apparently, in the distant past, way before we met, she lived in that house right at the base of Old Rag. The one where you walk down its drive if you are taking the other trail, not the one up Old Rag, but the trail that crosses the stream and heads up toward Corbin’s cabin.

She said the bears were so plentiful that you never put your trash out unless you wanted to spend the next day picking it up from the yard .

“At night we had to close and lock the windows because otherwise the bears would climb in and check out the kitchen cabinets for midnight snacks.

”It was always a little upsetting to wake up in the middle of the night and hear the sound in the kitchen of your neighborhood bears checking out what you have in the refrigerator.’


Anyway, I feel somewhat embarrassed making a big deal out of the bear that is doing its best to empty our beehives.

I’m quietly rooting for the bear to move on and go over to the gated community on the DC side of our valley. There’s plenty of food over there. They probably put out full trash cans each night of the week.

In the meantime I’ve been refortified our hives. Putting up new, improved and sturdier electric fencing around the hives.

I’ve also put up several wildlife cameras so we’ll have a picture or two of the bear caught in the act if it does decide to come back after our hives.

So far, though, no pictures of bear but there are several of deer and one of what looks to be a coyote.

So, with that, let’s stop and do the farm news.

Beginning with this week’s most asked question.

When will the fruit share start?

July 16th!

The fruit on the trees doesn’t start ripening until mid summer.

Remember, we don’t grow the fruit for the fruit shares.(we did plant 100 various fruit trees three years ago but they won’t be producing much fruit for several more years).

The fruit in the fruit shares comes from orchards out in Rappahannock County.

This fruit is not organic.

Every Monday morning I will be taking the van out toward Little Washington and Sperryville and buy what they are picking.

I don’t know how the fruit crop is going this year. We did have a late frost that damaged the fruit on our pear trees. I don’t know what happened further out in the country.

Usually the share starts with plums and peaches and some pears and gradually switch over to all apples. This is Virginia so the predominate local fruit are apples. There are a few early apples grown around here. Rambos, Summer Golden, Lodi. You will see some of these in July and August. They have very short shelf life. Lasting on your shelf for only a week before turning soft.

The harder, longer lasting, more flavorful apples take longer to grow and will start appearing in the share in the Fall.

I try to buy enough fruit so everyone with a fruit share will get about 8-12 pieces of fruit a week.

Egg share

Just an update and reminder.

The egg share is a half dozen eggs a week. Three fourths of the eggs come from someone else, an organic egg and chicken farmer in the southern part of the county. Three fourths of the egg money goes to her. In other words I do not make any money from the eggs. The money I get just covers my cost of having chickens.

Returning shareholders will probably remember that I tried to do away with the egg share at the end of last season but was overruled. I did, however, cut it down to only a half dozen a week.

That said, I’m having some trouble with the egg count each week (day). For some reason the number of eggs I think I need each day isn’t proving to be the same number of eggs that are taken. In other words, more eggs are being requested than I’m bringing. Meaning, the last two or so egg share holders aren’t getting eggs. Meaning something is wrong with my egg share count.

This is no doubt my fault but could you (people who are getting eggs) help me solve the problem.

I can think of several possible reasons why this is happening.

First, I didn’t make it clear to everyone that the eggs are not part of the vegetable share and some people are taking eggs that didn’t sign up for an egg share. Remember, eggs are an add on. To get eggs you had to sign up for an egg share. The share costs $40 for the season which comes out to $2 a week. You can still sign up for an egg share, just e-mail me and I’ll put you down on the list.

The second explanation is the most likely one. I messed up and a number of people who signed up for egg shares aren’t checked off in the database. To solve this problem, the next time you pick up your vegetables take a look at the sign up sheet. If you signed up for an egg share it should say yes after your name in the column for egg shares. If it doesn’t, tell me, and we’ll straighten it out.

The third explanation I can think of is that people think the egg share is for a dozen eggs. It was a dozen eggs last year. If that’s you, start taking only a half dozen eggs in the future.

And the final possibility, the more I think about it, explains it all.

It’s that bear.

Every day while I’m loading the van the bear is off in the woods watching.

He’s sitting there keeping an eye on me as I put the vegetables in to the van.

He watches me pick up one of those yellow boxes, walk over the storehouse and go inside.

He’s listening as I open the old refrigerator, the one just inside the door, count out the egg cartons, put them into the yellow box, and then carry them back to the van.

As I open the back van door he’s there, noting where I load the eggs.

And then, while I walk down the driveway and go to my house. While I’m inside, taking off my work clothes, and showering. Before I get dress to go back out to the van.

My suspicion is that’s when she (the bear) springs into action.

Suddenly, when the coast is clear, he springs into action.

She sees her chance. Runs out of the woods, throws open the van’s back door, takes a couple dozen eggs (she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself by taking the whole kit-and-cabudal) and hurries back off into the woods.

Carrying her stolen loot.

And when she’s far enough away, sits down on a log and partakes in a light (for a bear) egg snack.

Make sense?

Leigh Hauter

Friday, June 15, 2007


What can I say about the bear?

(I can say I just saw it, 8:30 in the morning, Friday, just an hour ago as I write this. I drove Wenonah to the metro this morning and when I was coming back, drove across the creek and when I did, looked up the hill at the beehives.

And there, trying to figure out how to get through the new, improved, electric fence -- maybe trying to figure out how to turn off the electric fence charger that is now inside the fence far enough away that you need a special rod to push the on/off switch--.

Anyway, there is was what looked like a really, really large black, I mean very black, dog.

Only, and this is when I realized it wasn’t a dog at all. while it was resting on four legs it looked like it would rather be standing on two legs.

And it was bigger than a big black dog, and heavier.

And right then it looked down at me and Wenonah’s red Prius, and turned, standing up on two legs, and then dropping down on all four again to move in the other direction.

That's when I drove the Prius up the hill, The drive swerves up and around the hives. But at the top, again, joins the trail the hives are on.

I stopped the car there, jumped out, and looked down the trail.

This is the way the bear, the black, black bear, was running.

Only, he wasn't here, at least I couldn't see him.

I got out of the car and started walking down the trail toward the hives).

But let’s get back to the newsletter I was writing last night. I can finish up this narrative later.

That the bear has been back? (yes she has, Monday night she attacked a group of four hives, the hives just above the creek, knocking over two, making off -- in her stomach -- with about 30 pounds or so of honey).

The problem with the bees and the bear is that our hives are spread out all over the property (just over 100 acres) and its hard to protect 20 hives when there is one here, two there and even a couple of groups of four around the corner and along the field.

What particularly upsets me about this week’s attack is the hives were sitting behind fortifications.

Massive fortifications. Probably the best bee defensive site we have.

These hives, the ones that were just attacked, are about half a mile from the house. Along an old road, now a trail. On a hill, over looking the marsh.

This is the same site where the bear that has his picture on our web page attacked several years ago. Back before the fortifications.

I guess there is really only one solution. A sort of medieval strategy.

The solution is to bring everyone in. Hide them behind walls. A fortress, or castle. I can picture a medieval fortress with towers and walls manned (I guess in the case of bees it would be womaned since male bees don’t have a stinger and spend their days doing nothing but hanging, being fed and waiting on by the female workers and occasionally leaving the hive and waiting for that almost mythical virginal queen to pass by. But that, of course, is a completely different story).

What we are talking about here is a fort with walls and battlements, deep motes and even rolls of razor tipped concertina wire.

Can you see the picture? Bees in armor helmets and spears up on the walls.

But back to reality. Our problem isn’t the walls and armor. Our problem is the same one many a medieval fortress faced. Rather than fearing the resolute siege the rulers of walled cities had to worry about traitors.

Yes, Traitors!

No, I’m not talking about a bee betrayed her hive, (but who knows).

What I’m saying is that someone compromised our bear defenses.

These bee hives, the ones sitting up on the hill over looking the creek are surrounded by a five strand electric fence.

This is a well maintained fence. No weeds growing up around the strands.

The approaches to the fence are regularly trimmed and mowed.

Not only is there a well constructed fence but the ground is lined with sheets (actually hog panels, a type of movable fence for pigs) of metal.

I had four of these panels on the ground so when the bear, or anyone else, approached the hives and is careless enough to touch the fence their feet will be resting on metal that is attached to the ‘ground’ wire on the fence charger. In other words, the shock given out by our defensive electric fence isn’t just one of those ‘run of the mill’ shocks but a special, ‘premium’ (if you will) shock.

Only, the best plans are of little value if they have been undermined by a traitor.

Here’s what happened. Tuesday, when I saw the mess, (two hives torn apart. Four bee boxes thrown in four different directions.

Honey comb spread on the ground.

One of the hog panels picked up off the ground and thrown up in a tree.

The small solar panel attached to the electric fence charger smashed in two.

Several nearby smallish trees ripped up by the roots.

Honey completely eaten off of eight different frames.

A cloud of bees circling in the air).

What I noticed when I got closer was that something allowed the bear to bypass the electric fence without getting a shock.

Somehow, for some reason, someone had reached in through the fence and had switched off, the on/off switch on the side of the electric fence charger.

In other words, someone with workable fingers had reached through the electric fence and carefully, dexterously (I should point out), flipped the switch to the off position.

Shutting down our defensive perimeter.

Opening us up to outside attack.

Betraying 200,000 or, is that, 300,000 hard working, industrious honeybees.

And in doing so, betraying me and our honey loving shareholders.

In other words, unless bears have suddenly begun to understand the concept of electricity and electric fence chargers. Have begun to comprehend the concept of on and off switches.

Unless it was the bear that reached in and turned off the fence.

The alternative is that someone with fingers and a working concept of on and off, aided the bear.

Betrayed us.

Someone turned off the switch.

So, after coming out and saying it, pointing a finger, so to speak, Let’s drop the subject. Let's turn away from the thought of betrayal, and instead go on to happier news.

The Farm News.

The second week of vegetable delivery is finished, and it seems all is well so far.

So far a lot of greens. But in Virginia June is about greens. That’s what the share will mostly consist of this month.

It won’t be until July until we start seeing the more traditional vegetables.

Other news. While the year has been terribly dry we’ve had some good rain over the past couple of weeks. While we were irrigating over 15,000 gallons of water a day, we have since been getting more than that much in rain.

And while our vegetables sure need the water, so do the weeds.

And with all that rain the weeds have been growing. particularly the weeds growing right next to the onions. Which means, for the onions sake, the weeds need pulling, Which means, we would sure appreciate some onion weeders.

How about this Saturday?

If you would enjoy (is that too strong of a word?) weeding we would appreciate your help. Noonish on Saturday.

And while you are at it, we are growing flowers that shareholders can pick. We have a number of cutting marigolds and salvia out in the field ready to be cut and taken home. Shareholders, even if you don’t want to do the weeding, you can come out and cut a bouquet of flowers.

And, with that, I can’t really think of any other pertinent farm news. if you have questions about any aspect of the program, e-mail me and I’ll try to give you an answer.

I have had several e-mails, though, asking for recipes for the different vegetables. We have a recipe section on our webpage. I have a number of new recipes that people have sent and when I get a chance I’ll be posting those also (if you have a favorite recipe that you want to share, send it on to me).

People have also been writing, asking for pictures of the specific vegetables. My webpage is so full I can’t really add more pictures but remember, it's really easy to google up a picture of one of these vegetables. type in the veggies name and then "+ picture" and you will get more photos than you need.

Which makes me think of my morning visitor. I wish I had a camera in the car. That was what I was thinking when I jumped out this morning and looked down the trail to where those beehives were.

From the top, looking down, you can’t see the hives. The trail is overgrown.

In fact, I couldn’t see if there was a bear still down there.

I left the car door open with the morning’s version of Democracy Now! playing on WPFW.

Was the bear still there?

What would she do if I walked up on her?

I walked down the trail, carefully (did I ever tell you the time I was hiking just north of the golden gate bridge and walked up on a mountain lion and ended up chasing her down a trail as I tried to yank my camera out of my day pack?)

And thought about the hissing sound from the other night. It turns out bears hiss when they are thinking aggressive thoughts.

Black bears? Are they more aggressive than brown bears? People had always asked what sort of bears we have up here. That one, was sure black.

I pushed a limb aside to try to get a view of the hives.

And while he might have looked something like a dog, I was thinking, I never saw a dog that looked anything like that. It was just that he had black fur and had four legs.

But larger than any dog. Taller than my 150 pound Great Pyrenees.

No wonder poor Andorra didn’t fight it off the other night. She was being brave to even get close and bark at it.

I could see the hives.

They were still standing.

The fence?

You know, this is really getting long. Maybe I should just stop now. Send it out as a newsletter and maybe, tonight, if I get around to it, finish up the story and post it on our blog.

How about that?

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I’m really, really worried.

Worried about rain (I mean, the lack of it)

Do you realize how dry it is out there?

This is the dries spring since I’ve been farming. The driest spring in the last dozen springs.

Out of six months, four of them set dryness records and the other two can’t be called wet by any stretch of the imagination.

We need rain. Now.

And I’m not just being selfish. Not wanting to have to spend my nights moving water from one part of the farm to another.

Right now we collect about 15,000 gallons a day and can send it out over our twelve acres of vegetable fields. This really isn’t enough.

But it can make due.

Recently I bought another 2500 gallon storage tank so we can start collecting the water from the lower spring and begin to pump it up to the new field we cleared off this spring.

What with the drip tape we’ve laid out for the 2500 tomato plants and several thousand (I don’t have a better count than that) of pepper plants we have down there they will soon need all the water they can get.

I seem to have read somewhere that each tomato plant needs a gallon of water each and every week during the growing season.

Without that much water you don’t get healthy tomatoes.

So, back to the subject. What are we going to do without rain?

I read somewhere else that vegetables are really a way of exporting water. That’s why the developing country’s that grow vegetables for export are really translating their water supply into an export crop.

And if they don’t have enough water for their human population?

I guess you get the picture.

But the point I’m trying to make is that climate and water aren’t something we want to mess with.

And the arguments that we don’t know yet what the effect of climate change, even if we are having it. The people that make those arguments are scary people.

I look out on my fields each and every day and worry about water for that week and wonder will I get enough for this summer.

And then when I drive into the city in the evening with the day’s harvest and look at all that grease in the sky and I think. Even if its not changing the climate, it can’t be doing any good.

And all of those vehicles (including mine) with their own little dirt and heat producing machine under the hood.

Thousands of them at a time zooming back and forth.

Just like one of those science fiction novels I used to read as a kid.

The guy with the bulldozer came by today to get paid for clearing off my field this spring and he was after me to build a pond down below the lower spring (he’s a fisherman and I’m sure has visions of evenings on the bank of this new pond lazing with his fishing rod).

And I’m thinking, Maybe I should build a pond and store more water. Water that I’m going to need, just in case.

In case this drought we’re having becomes the norm.

In case we don’t get regular rain anymore.

In case my getting up in the middle of the night to move water in a different direction, in case that becomes the norm rather than the exception.

What do you think?

Bears and Pac Choi

That was sure a lot of pac choi. Right?

At least that's what I think the bear was saying last night when it broke into the van and ransacked the vegetables left over from Thursday's delivery.

I would have missed the event but our dog started barking right under our window.

That was at about 3 Am.

And she wouldn't let up.

And wouldn't leave the safety of standing right below where she knew we were sleeping.

Finally I had to get up. I looked at the clock and would have said that 'the clock had just struck 3' but, since its one of those electronic things that the instructions claim is always in touch with some sort of master clock out in Colorado I think its more like 'the clock just transmitted 0300 hours.'

Anyway, looking at the clock and not able to ignore the insistent ('hey folks, there's something out here that needs your attention right now') barking.

I quickly put on some shorts, stumbled down the stairs found our huge, rechargeable, spotlight and without collecting the shotgun or shoes, went out into the night.

Barefoot and unarmed.

Now, if you are going to chase something down in the dark its always smart to wear something on your feet. Who knows what you are going to step on. In the city it could be a broken bottle out here it could be, well, how about a rattlesnake.

But I went out anyway and in front of the house flipped on the searchlight.

Instant day. (at least where I was pointing it).

And Andorra, our intrepid Great Pyrenees followed me a few steps away from the safety of the house, but not without caution.

Barking all the way.

Nothing in the field to the left.

The field to the right seemed fine.

I let the light play across the beehives on the edge of the field in front of the house.

(my suspicions went something like this: what would it be that is scary enough to intimidate a 150 pound dog? Certainly not a groundhog, a raccoon, fox or possum. Recently I picked up the images of several larger animals on one of my wildlife cameras. A pair of dogs, my neighbors, a shepherd and pit bull, still not enough to worry our GP. But there were also several images of what looked to by coyotes).

While I don't think a coyote would be enough to bother Andorra.

Which only left one other animal out there. One that last week took out another beehive.

A bear. I flashed the spotlight up the hill where the bear had thrown around a hive several weeks ago.

And couldn't see anything. No bear. No beehive either.

And that's when I heard the hissing.

Something was on the other side of the van. I'm sure it was the other side of the van. But it might have been around the tractor which was parked right there too.

An Andorra wouldn't come any further from the house.

Barking intently. Seriously barking. Her legs spread as if she were expecting an attack at any moment.

A stack of vegetable boxes, those yellow things I use to bring the vegetables in to the pick up locations, was suddenly pushed over.

In the dark.

Andorra backed up a dozen or so steps but kept on barking.

And I flashed the light back and forth feeling somewhat vulnerable, barefoot, wearing only shorts and armed only with a spotlight.

More hissing, or was it growling. Anyway, there was more of it and something else was turned over.

'Maybe,' I said to myself. "maybe I should go back to the house and get some boots on."

And lets stop there and go over this week's farm news.

Number one on the list of the farm news is definitely pac choi.

Pac Choi and the first week of vegetable delivery.

There was sure a lot of Pac Choi in the first week's share. That wasn't planned.

I had planned for only one head of pc and one head of broccoli. But, with farming, that's how things go. The broccoli grew slower than expected (it should be ready next week) and next week's pc grew faster.

In case that was daunting, in the future, go too our webpage. We have several hundred pretty good recipes covering, I think, ever vegetable we grow.

The second item of farm news is the content of the shares. June around here, means greens. That's how it's going to be for much of this month. Lettuces and mustards. Mustards and lettuces. We had a few squash in Thursday's share but that's some what of a fluke. What might be call traditional American vegetables' (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash) don't start ripening up until the end of June and really, not until the second week of July.

June, locally, is the month of greens.

Next, I need to mention the drought. It's hard to think that we ever had a drought but this May was, someone said, the driest May around here in recorded history. Out here on the farm we got .71 hundreds of an inch. That's significantly less than the inch a week we need. I was using our springs to put over 15,000 gallons of water on our fields a day (imagine how much that would cost if you were being metered?) and that wasn't enough. I just ordered another 2500 tank and a pump, sprinklers pipes, connections etc. to start tapping the lower spring. I'd just spend several thousand dollars when the rain came.

Hopefully we'll have regular rains from here on out.

And finally, a dozen queen honey bees come in the mail yesterday. This weekend I'm going to be making splits from my hives. Taking those mail order queens and using them to split hives that I have. If you are interested in coming out and helping, drop me an e-mail.

A note on the first week's vegetable deliveries. Even though it was sure hectic, mostly it came out fine. If you are unsure about anything, pick up site, time, place, types of vegetables, share size. drop me a note and we'll try to straighten it out before next delivery. Our aim is to attempt to make everybody happy.

Which is not how I felt when I came back out of the house this morning, now about 3:30, this time with boots on my feet, our shotgun under my arm, and a pocket full of shells loaded with bird shot.

The spotlight still in hand.

I quickly walked up to the delivery van and flipped on the spotlight.


And then the hissing.

Whatever it is, it was on the other side of the van or tractors. maybe in between them, Under one of the vehicles?

I flashed the light through the van, thinking whatever it was had made it inside and was eating left over vegetables.


I stepped back a little. I didn't want to walk around the corner of a vehicle and run smack into a bear.

It's better seeing a bear at a distance, and even then, bears sure can run fast, especially at short distances.

When wenonah and I were first dating more than a couple decades ago we were hiking up in the park and something made us look down off the side of the trail where a momma bear and her cub were fishing in the stream (well, actually, mother was looking for food while baby was playing in the water).

We stood there and watched for what seemed like several minutes when suddenly the mother must have sensed us.

She looked up.

Saw us.

And almost instantly had her child running up the side of the mountain, on the other side of the stream.

Those two bears sprinted up the mountain faster than I could go down it.

It put real respect in me for a bear's speed and lung capacity.

So, instead of walking close up around the corner of the van I stepped back, walking away from the van by several dozen yards and then

And then...

By now he sound wasn't coming from the van any longer. It had moved. Now It was over by the storehouse. The storehouse door, the front door, while I really couldn't see it well, was wide open.

Inside, the light was on. (I don't remember that from when I looked around the farm before going to bed).

The sound of breaking glass, as though a case of canning jars were shoved off of a shelf.

I let out a yell. A sort of a holler.

And was answered by that strange hissing. A sound I couldn't identify. I had been holding the light in my right hand and the shotgun in my left.

I switched hands, looking down to put a shell in the breech, snapping it closed.

And then looking up again.

I walked closer so I could get a clear sight of the door. For a moment I imagined I could see shadows, lit up from the light inside, dancing on the wall.

And then there weren't any shadows. Only silence.

I crept closer.

And closer.

And then there was that sound again. The hissing, a big animal moving. Sounded like it was dragging something.


Only it wasn't in the house now but doing down the trail beside the house. A trail that went off into the woods, down to a gate in the deer fence. A gate where a bear had knocked down the fence only a couple of weeks ago when it destroyed a bee hive.

I listened as the sound moved down the trail, dragging, what ever it was hauling off, further and further into the woods until finally, it disappeared.

Last week a long-time local friend was over for dinner and the conversation got on to the subject of the bears (one of the new neighbors, in one of the new houses built down on the end of our road, had just accused me of 'bringing bears into the valley' The occasion was me picking up a hive a bear had recently destroyed. She was standing back watching. I didn't verbally answer her but instead thought a reply. thinking that bears have been around here long before her new house was built and long before the woods on the other side of the mountain were bulldozed and stripped -- something like 15 square miles of trees -- in order to build a 'gated community' as though it isn't safe enough moving out into what had been the country, but now they needed to put guards and walls around their newly built up-scale housing project).

Anyway, over dinner, I said I thought the bears had been living is in those woods but now I didn't know. 'Before they built all of that bears weren't much of a problem. There was plenty of natural habitat for them.

'They've probably moved into the other end of the valley now. There's still a couple square miles of trees without humans everywhere you look.'

'Maybe,' my friend answered. 'But there's not many places left for empty enough for bears. Not with all the humans that are moving out this way.'

* Bears, someone wrote after reading about the bear, make a nasal sound that can be interpreted as a sort of hiss when they are in a defensive or even aggressive mode. I guess I made the right decision when going back to the house for boots.

Leigh Hauter