Monday, November 7, 2011

Bear Solutions

Although Johnny thinks the solar-powered alarms I ordered to scare away bears won't work (and he's probably right since we don't have much "solar" this time of year), I haven't noticed him following through with his idea that we should mark our territory by peeing as high on the trees, etc., as possible (and we all know which one of us can pee the highest). So I ordered the alarms anyway. In the meantime, I hung a string of tin cans on the apple tree outside our back door that the bear(s?) insist on scratching. I think they are using that tree as a marking post but I don't know whether one bear is telling the others that this is his territory or whether he's telling them that this is a good area for apples, etc., and the people who live here are too dumb to worry about.

Although Johnny laughed derisively at my tin can alarm, I do think the cans worked to deter the bears. I noticed no new scratches the next morning and there have been new scratches since I took the cans down... in spite of no apples on that tree anymore.

I only left the tin cans up one night as the next day was our main bear preventive day: another cider making party. This time we shook every tree that has apples on it around the house, orchard, and horse pasture. The bears can have the driveway and arboretum apples as they've already eaten most of those anyway.

A variety of methods were used to separate apples from their trees... whacking branches with long poles, grabbing branches and shaking them, climbing into the tree to shake from on high, and Ian's favorite method: lobbing apples at other apples from the ground. Then the troops gathered the fallen apples into buckets and poured them into feed sacks, preferably not while the apples were falling, although impatient Ian spent a good deal of time getting conked on the head and back.

Here is Kevin up in a tree...

Above is Ian lobbing apples at apples while Rand poles them. Above right is Gina poling apples while Ian, what else?, throws apples at the tree. Below is Linnet's smiling face high in an apple tree.

After a potluck break at noon, the cider making began. We had some returnee cider makers from the last gathering along with new recruits. Linda and Dave and Randy were faithful returnees, bringing Dave's son Jesse and his friend Sarah with her two kids Hailey and Dylan. Ian and Hailey and Dylan had a great time together... and the llamas enjoyed having more kids to feed them apples.

Jessica, who usually joins in, missed the fun because she was attending a horse function (where I joined her on Sunday). But she sent her fabulous chili recipe with Ian who made it for all of us for lunch.

Barb and Mark are also regulars from past years, this year bringing daughter Linnet and her partner Gina. Neighbor Irv and Rand pitched in as well. All took home plenty of cider for their efforts but there was still half a barrel left for us... and many fewer apples on the place for bears.

On the left are Kevin, Linnet, Barb and Sara washing apples.

Above, right, Ian puts apples through the chopper with help from Randy & Johnny.

...Hailey pressing with supervision from Jesse and Dylan

Dylan pressing while Jesse looks on...

Of course, apples are not the only attraction for bears: there's the chicken food. So Johnny's bearicade from last year is back up at night. That story and photos are here: Also the dog food dispenser is moved indoors every night... and the back door locked. I do not want a bear in my house, looking for goodies.

When apples everywhere are gone (and there are plenty of deer around helping that happen), the black bears will find a sheltered spot and take a nap until food supplies return in the spring. The bear piles will stop appearing nightly in our yard and driveway and the bearicade can come down. The dog food dispenser will stay where it belongs outdoors and I can stop scrutinizing every pair of eye shine I see at night on my way to feed the horses. I can hardly wait. Next fall, I'll be prepared with solar alarms *before* the bears arrive.

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