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.’

Hmmm?

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

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