Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…. July 6, 2018

Ready for a bear update?

He has not shown up at our property or at our neighbor’s house since we saw him here last Tuesday. Meanwhile, at roughly the same time, a juvenile bear showed up in the area where Grit’s parents live, which is 2-3 miles from our place as the crow flies. The territory range for a female black bear is 2.5 to 10 square miles, and for a male it is 10 to 59 square miles!  So, it is quite possible that this is the same bear.

Can you see the bear, nose to nose with the horse on the left?!

The bear became quite friendly with a horse belonging to a neighbor of Grit’s, so someone called FWP and asked them to trap it.  Grit’s Dad sent me a picture of the bear trap being delivered, which I am sharing below. (His neighbor sent it to him.) No word yet if it has been caught.

A bear trap, just like on TV!

John and I cut more firewood this week, and while we were in the woods, he found several overturned rocks and this rotting log that had all been disturbed–it was the bear, looking for grubs.  This is the same area where we have found lots of indentions in the grass where the deer bed down.  Wonder if they are still hanging out there?!

The bear ripped this up, looking for ants most likely.

 

That flattened grass in the middle is where a deer has bedded down.

Stoltz continues to log in the draw.  One day late last week we looked at our OnX program to see all of the land that Stoltz owns in our draw.  It was much more substantial than I had realized, including a large swath that runs adjacent to the road.  The next day we were driving into town, and they had begun logging that section.  I did not even recognize portions of it!

I took several pictures for you, so that you can see what logging in progress looks like.  If I had known they were going to log it, I would’ve taken some “before” shots.

On the right side, you can see the tracks from the log cutting machinery.

 

Logging in progress.

 

This is a “trash pile” that Stoltz will clean up before they leave.

A couple of you have asked about our friends Gary and Terry.  Sadly, Gary passed away a couple of weeks ago.  We take comfort in knowing that he is in heaven!  The memorial service is this weekend.

Gary and Terry, along with their sons Jason and Micah and daughter-in-law Rachel, host a large Fourth of July cookout and fireworks display on their farm every year, and Terry and her family continued the tradition this year!

All dressed up for the party!

(This festive flag shirt was only $13.89 on Amazon.  Snag yours now for next year here.)

Guests arrived around 5 PM, and we brought our own meat and a side or dessert.  They fired up two grills, we each grilled our own meat and enjoyed the tables full of food!  We hung out, visited, played badminton, horseshoes, and volleyball.  (Note: I  did not play any of these sports.  I am the girl you don’t want on your team.) One of Gary’s last acti

****OHMYGOSH, y’all, as I was typing the sentence above, I was sitting on our back porch and a movement caught my eye–I looked up, and it was THE BEAR!!

He was walking the fence line just 15 yards from the porch!! (I measured later, you know I did!)  The picture below shows how close he was.  Belle and Grit were on the porch with me, and I was much more concerned about hustling them indoors than I was about taking a picture.  I thought that if they saw the bear, they would run after him.  By the time I got them inside, the bear was loping up the ridge behind the house.

This is my view from the porch–the fence line the bear was walking. John thinks he may have been drawn to the sound of running water, because I had the waterfall on at the time.

*Later* Whew!  That was something else, and it made the fact that we are living with a bear very real to me.  John and I had another conversation about whether we call FWP to trap and relocate the bear or not, and we surprised me with the answer.  No.

Like I said last week, we believe, as does FWP, that we moved into the animals’ habitat, not vise versa.  I am not sure if my nerves are gonna hold out for this answer, but we shall see.

Friendlier critters on the fence where I saw the bear.

When we go outside, we carry bear spray and 9mm pistols.  If we are going to be outside for a long time, John brings out a shotgun loaded with shells containing 1/4 inch rubber pellets.  This will startle the bear and scare it off, but it won’t hurt it.  You might say we are loaded for bear…. (I could not resist!)

We took the shotgun to our range and shot a couple of the rubber pellet shells, checking the shot pattern at 15 and 25 yards.  It is important to know how the pellets are going to spray, so that we don’t injure the bear.

The pattern is fairly tight, which is what we wanted to see.

Bears aren’t out there hunting down people.  They want to be left alone.  Almost all bear attacks occur under one of two situations.  The first is surprising the bear.  A surprised bear may charge as a defense mechanism.  Human conversation is generally enough to alert a bear that you are nearby.

The other circumstance is being too near a sow and her cubs; the worst is inadvertently finding yourself between a sow and her cubs! Don’t do that.

(Another don’t: if you visit bear country, don’t buy “bear bells.” These are large jingle bells that attach to your person or your pack. Locals call them “dinner bells.”

John reminded me of a Montana joke: How can you identify grizzly scat in the woods?  It’s the poop with bells in it!

You won’t find Montanans wearing bells, but you will see all of us carrying bear spray!

As I type this, I have a feeling that one or more of you are probably thinking that we are crazy to live here.  “Eleanor, get out of the woods!” The thing is, though, no matter where any of us lives, there are predators.  Some walk on four legs, others walk on two.

From 1973-1986, John worked in the public housing projects of Atlanta and on the downtown foot patrol.  Then he worked for twenty years in the suburbs of Gwinnett County.  He has dealt with PLENTY of two-legged predators!  He’s had a truck stolen; my car was broken into. When I ran, he insisted that I carry a pistol, because you never know when there’s a creeper cruising your neighborhood….

Now we live somewhere that you can leave your shotgun outside; neither the critters nor your neighbors will bother it. We know people who leave their homes and cars unlocked.  When we bought this place, the former owner told us, “I had to look for the keys.  I have never locked the doors.”

I have lived among two-legged predators, and now I am learning to live among the four-legged variety.

Well, after my up close and personal encounter with Mr. Bear (no real idea if it is a boar or a sow), we spent nearly three hours Friday afternoon in the electric fence aisle at Murdoch’s, trying to figure out what we needed to buy in order to put an electric fence around the goat barn, goat pasture, and new chicken coop.

There was only one person working that day who was well versed in electric fencing, and the store was busy, so he did not have time to hand hold us through the process of selecting all the various parts that are needed to string electric wire to a wooden fence. I needed some hand holding!

I hate making multiple trips to the store for a project!  I am a “buy it all at once” kind of gal.  I spent part of my time trying to find a website that would give us a complete list of what we’d need, and I could not find it.  I have a feeling we will be back at Murdoch’s in a few days.

Anyway, I was telling you about the Fourth of July.  One of Gary’s last activities was building a sandbox for his toddler grandson.  That evening, there were probably eight kids playing in that sandbox, from about eighteen months old to eight or nine years old.  Gary would’ve been so happy to see that sight!

At dusk, someone lit a large fire in the fire pit because it was chilly!  Around ten PM, the fireworks began.  It was an amazing display!!  Terry said her sons spent about three hours in one of their pastures, lining up all of the fireworks, connecting them with cannon fuses, and setting them on timers.  The end result was worth it! Let’s close this post with a short video from the night.

 

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