Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It wasn't a bear,  I'm pretty sure of that.

Anyway,  whatever it was happened around 2 am.

When it did, I was just coming out the door of the greenhouse.

And that's when I heard it.

A scream.  The type a large meat eating animal would make.

And I stopped in my tracks.  Where have I heard that before and what should I be doing.


This time of year I usually get up in the middle of the night to make sure everything is safe.

30-50,000 tender seedlings growing in the greenhouse  is too much to risk on a fire that went out, or a electric switch that didn't click on.

This time of year the risk of the temperature in the greenhouse dropping to 31 degrees means the irreplaceable loss of over a month's worth of full time work for three people.

Not counting the lost seeds and wasted potting soil and salary those seedlings can't be replaced.

Not at this time of year.  Not in time to begin to plant them next month so people can eat vegetables in May and June.

No,  getting up in the middle of the night is a small price to pay.

and that's what I was doing -- putting more wood in the boiler, giving the  greenhouse (and plants) one last look before I went back to bed.

That's when I heard it.

The sound from a large animal.  One over at the greenhouse.

My first thought was something like.  'That's a pretty big animal for me to be walking that way without some sort of a weapon, besides my boots,  to protect myself with.

I quickly went though the short list of what I've used when confronted with nearby large animals in the past.

You know, sticks and stones can break some bones.  (or something like that)  but the truth is over the years I've discovered the best weapon when confronting a large animal in the woods is.....


Nothing is scarier to an animal that comes across you in the woods than a human letting out a human roar.  (sort of like our version of a lion's roar).

My experience is nothing lets a animal running in the other direction faster than letting out a holler on the level of one that comes close to damaging your vocal cords.

Dogs, bears, coyotes, foxes even a mountain lion (special story on the mountain lion though).

Now I will admit that some of those critters are going to run anyway when confronted with a large human that hasn't turned around and run in the opposite direction (bad mistake).

However  They run faster if you yell.

And mostly a yell that you don't have to think about.  One of those instinctual things.  (turn the corner and there's a pack of semi-wild german shephards  before either party can think about what's going on the human yells).

Huge bear falls out of tree at human's feet.  Human roars.  Bear runs.

Human turns corner on California trail to find a large mountain lion napping in trail a few meters in front of him.  Mountain liion wakes to find human pulling out strange device with something like a large single eye and waiving it in its direction.  When it gets up  and steps back away from this creature the  runs closer pointing large eye in its direction.  Mountain lion not knowing what's going on turns and runs but hears human running behind it continuing to attempt to point giant eye in its direction.  No, I didn't get a picture and  it wasn't until a few moments later when the mountain lion left the trail to hide in the thick underbrush that I realized just how lucky I was.

The point is bold impulsive behavior is a lot safer than carrying a rifle and  getting mauled or eaten before you have time to even begin to think about using it.

So what happened the other night?

I continued over to the chickens.  When I got there the geese were all in an uproar, running back and forth inside the greenhouse but no sign of the wild critter  (no doubt a fox).

What I figured is a fox came looking for a chicken meal and ran into the electric fence.  let out a loud cry of pain.  Before it had time to reconsider how it was going to get past the electric fence there was the sound of a large dog  (our Great Pryness) approaching, barking loudly as it came.

Realizing that being safe and cautious was better than risking everything for  a chicken dinner the fox retreated first away from the hoophouse and then into the woods that  circle the field.

which brings up our rapidly approaching vegetable season.

2013 shares.  If you haven't signed up for this season yet and intend to its time to send me an email so I can type you in to the database. Its time to reserve a share.

What's different than  in year's gone by?    More weeks of vegetables.  We still have the 19 weeks of delivery but I'm adding to that 6 weeks of  shares that are available at the farm.  Sort of like what we did last year except this year it will formal.

In the coming weeks we will be having open farm for our shareholders.  We had one last week where besides eggs we shared garlic  (I still have 300-400 garlic bulbs hanging in the barn. Usually garlic starts turning paper-like this time of the year but these are still in great shape. I guess the answer is not to store garlic in a root cellar but to keep them hanging in an unheated barn).

Horseradish (it was a little wet to be digging around in the horseradish bed but we were successful in digging up a couple dozen roots)

Turnips  (this was a fluke.  One of the children in one of the tours found several rows of forgotten turnips so we stopped our touring of the farm and set to harvesting.  Look on our facebook page for the results of one of the shareholders harvest).

That large crop of  fall lettuce and mustard was damaged by this winters several cold snaps however it looks like its starting to grow again and for the dedicated there are some greens in the field available to harvest  (I got an email from one of the shareholders that came out for the tour and they used the giant red mustard they harvested from the cemetery field).

And that's it. This year I've been putting some effort into the farm's facebook page and have been posting pictures and comments just about everyday ( http://www.facebook.com/BullRunMountainFarm)