Blog Archives

Sugar Plum Farm Tulips

Hi all, I’m almost back.  My injured person has family here and is also feeling better.  I’m attempting to complete several projects related to farming in spring.  I’ll begin posting on Monday.   I plan to start reading what I’ve missed of those I follow, check out those who are new, or showing interested in the So-Journeys blog, over the next few days. Until then, Happy Tulips from the farm. [Click to see full screen and last one is just for fun.]

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“A bear went over the mountain.  A bear went over the mountain.  A bear went over the mountain . . . to see what he could see.”  The song goes something like that.  Well I just read a blog from over many mountain ranges west and “saw” a few great bear encounter stories.  The blogger triggered a gaggle of bear stories on my side of the mountain.  (You may find plenty of typoes as too tired to edit.)

Bears Like Toothpaste.

I met a young fellow who was working on the Appalachain Trail during the first of my two trips.  He told me about a time when he and a few friends slept at the shelter in which I would be resting. A bear grabbed his pack in the night.  It was leaning against the end of the shelter just inside the entrance.  The young man found it nearly fifty feet away.  The bear totally trashed his pack but only ate the toothpaste, leaving the food untouched.

Outa My Diner.

I was eating berries along a ridge in the Smokey Mountains.  A loud Hurrrrumph sounded on the otherside.  “Okay, I’ll move on down the line.”

A Bear to Sleep By.

I slept with a bear in camp in Virginial once during my second hike of the Appalachian Trail.  A young bear joined my camping space 15 yards away.  I chased him/her off a couple of times but he really liked what he was eating.  I ate well away from where I was going to sleep, which was on the ground under a tarp help up like a pup tent via trekking poles on each end.

I split my food back into two separate ones after finsihing my dinner and another try to chase the bear away.  The bags were hung up a branch of two trees, far from each other.  I changed my clothing, put them in a stuff sack and hung it up as well.

How does a person sleep on the ground when a bear is dining so close.  Well, I was exhausted after hiking 22 miles.  I couldn’t help but fall asleep.  However, I did create a mental safety margin.  Instead of “counting sheep,” I said over and over “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.”  “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.”  I figured the bear may become became curious about this body lying on the ground.  If such would be the case, then remaining statue still would be a great idea.  Imagine a bear gazing at your sleeping form.  One move would send curiosity into greater action.   Perhaps, a swipe of one of the bear’s massive clawed paw.  Uh, Oh, no more face!

In the Night.

The previous story reminds me of a time when I was sleeping in a hammock at one of my “hide-n-sleep” places.  I was on a ten day bicycle vacation riding from Shelburne, NH up to Fort Kent, Maine and back.  I always find a place to hang the hammock in some trees along the roadside and do so in a place of concealment.  Once I find the place, I wait for zero traffic before running myself, bike and trailor into the hidden place.

I was hard pressed to find a place before dark as I was riding along a very large lake with home after home crammed next to each other along the shore.  The opposing side of the road was high ledges.  I waited until almost dark before running into a tiny space of wild vines, thick shrubbery and a few trees, finally.  It was around eleven pm that the sounds of something crashing through the shrubby area permeated my brain.  I was still asleep so nothing registered until a subconsious thought woke me into conscious clarity.  It was a bear!  I hopped up out of the hammock in time to see the bear in shadow.  I clapped my hands loudly while stomping on a dead branch.  The large dark figure took note and left me alone.  What if I hadn’t awakened?  Whew!

Running Bear.  

There was also the time early in the morning on a New Jersey ridgeline trail.  I was out and about backpacking during the second week of April.   Most nights were cool but this night was a bit warm to keep the closed.  I was lazy and left the door open instead of unzipping the screen.  The nightl critters hadn’t been around much, so no worries.  Pre-dawn my subconscious mind homed in on the fact that “something” was in the tent with me.  The “something” was rattling my pack.  At least, that’s what it seemed to me in my semi-sleeping state.  I sat up and yelled.  I’m not sure what kind of noise I made, be words or a shriek.  Who knows for I never woke enough to see the “critter.”  I did sense it in the air.  Must have done a 180 before hitting the ground running.  I never did find out what the “critter” was.

Well, I prefer to hit the trail early and did so right away.  The trail on the ridge was enjoyable.  I kept quiet to soak in and feel the world.  A dark upturned stump  lay ahead of me.  A few more steps sent the stump running down the west side of the ridge.  From now on, note that the dark root system of downed trees are not always what they seem.  “The bear went over the mountain.”  ha ha.

Bears in Northern, NH.  

At home, the bear population is plentiful.  In fact, there are some well set rules to help prevent messes.  Bird feeders are down by tax day, except those who take them in at night.  The are not put up until the birds need the help.  Some times that’s a bit soon so we refrain from filling an of the fixed feeders and use the hanging type.  We bring them in at night.  Garbage must be inside a well secured area.  Bags are not put out on trash day until within a half hour of actual pick-up.  Seems to work most of the time.  My garbage is in cans inside a rather large barn.  My place (caretaker’s quarters) is an addition on the back of this huge barn.  The front rail doors are closed at night and the pedestrian door is checked as the latch doesn’t always work.  Well…..  one night, I heard the crash of one of the metal cans.  Guess the bear was real hungry as he had pried open the large doors.  He didn’t factor a door opening, light turned on, and a loud, “Get outa here!”  Scared the night-lights out of him.  I walked out to the partially opened doors and saw the bag lying a few feet away.  I could see the bear in shadow.  He was in the inner circle of the driveway among the trees.  He just stood there.  If I could see his face, I imagine his expression would be that of shock and dismay.  He was big or seemed to be in the dark.  I bent down to clean up the mess and found the bag intact.  I said, “Thanks for not breaking the bag,” put it back in the can and closed the doors.

Okay, the bear has gone over the mountain quite a bit here.  One more story.  It’s one of my favorites and took place up here on the farm.

Territorial Dispute.  

It was a bit of a drought year due to little snow and rain for a couple of years.  Everyone and their cousins were coming to our large fields of wild blueberries restaurant.  I saw deer, coyotes, foxes, a coywolf, rabbits and more.  Of course, the bears came too.  There was one bear in particular that loved, loved, loved blueberries or had been starving for several years.  I’d see him early morning until around nine am.  He’d be back by lunch and stay until around three pm.  Guess what?  He would come again in the evening, around six to seven pm.

Our relationship was going well.  If he was in the fields, I would remain in the yard or on the trails.  He stayed out of the yard area.  I enjoyed his company for much of the summer and then he broke the rules  in late August.  Yep, I was looking out the window and noticed big mama bear with her two cubs feeding in the backfield right against the woods.  No wonder she’s huge.  She knows how to protect herself.  Believe me.  She was huge.  The largest I’ve ever seen.  Back to my other bear.  He was sneaking up along the eastern side of the field on a heading toward the north rock wall.  There is an openning to the yard near the garden shed.  I walked out of the barn and saw him ambling toward the spot via a cluster of trees behind it.  I clapped and yelled when he came into sight.  “My space not yours.”  Get!”  The bear backed off and I knew he wouldn’t give up the territorial dispute that quickly.  He’ll try to come in from around the otherside of the garden shed.  I went back to the barn and grabbed a wooden stake of about six feet in length.  Yes, six feet.  I still had one in the big barn after winter.  (We use them as guides for plow trucks in winter.)  I held the stake horizontally in front of me, about chest high.  I shook it and waved it out, up and down while saying, once again, my space not yours.  The bear ran behind the vegetable garden and up the large spruce tree.  I stood in place for about ten seconds before backing off.  I hid behind the large cherry tree and watched him climb down.  Yep.  He’s not done.  There is one more avenue at ready, the Birch garden.  I stayed in the shadows until his attention was focused on his next move.  Sure enough.  The Birch garden.  I ran out of my hiding place waving the stake wildly over my head, like an inverted pendulum.  The bear tore off for the road, crossed it and ran into the woods.

He was back to his routine the next day and did not try for the yard again.  I stayed in the yard and on the trails and he in the field.

Please note that if Mama bear tried that, I’d open the door to my house and say help yourself and I’m outa here!  Please also note that black bears are not pets and are dangerous.  With that said, “don’t try this at home or anywhere” fits this story.  The only reason I held my ground is becaue of our long standing relationship that had gone so well.  Had he charged.  Well, Okay.  You can have the yard but your too small for me to welcome you inside my home.

You would love to read the stories by the blogger who started this whole thing.  Call it her learning experiences.   Click here to go to post.

Below are pictures of the bear from last story.  You can see how much he grew withing a couple months.  Must be the super-charged blueberries.  Click on photos for full screen view.

 

Spring is Here!

It’s official.  As of two days ago, no more snow at Sugar Plum Farm.

Spring is Here!!

Spring is Here!!

Daffodils, Green Grass, Pussywillows, and the number Seven.

A trip to Rollo Fall

Even Dylan is  Happy

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Today’s Challenge

I’m away right now so not readily availabe to the internet.  However, I do have a moment now and the best thing I have is the battle for sanity, Randolph NH.

It has snowed three mornings in a row. Yep, warm days and snow almost all gone. Bam! honey I’m back.  No, no, no, curtains close and blanket over my face. I’m not getting up. I’m not getting up.  Curtain open, hmm.  Still there and I have to get up.  How reality tempts us to change its very nature.

Yesterday Morning

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p.s.  I’m in Cape Elizabeth, Maine where the grass IS greener.

Hopeful Spring

These days are trying.  I hope for spring.  Receive a tease, sunny skies and feeling warm.  But, only one day so far.  The frigid winter with its blasts of wind and snow visit over and over, day after day.

This is disappointing.  But, I will not lose hope.  I remember back, just a few years ago.  I saw the dark green of a slimy looking moss. It brought such delight and hope back then.  Why not now?

I am hopeful.  I feel it coming.  Spring in all its glory – will arrive.

The Effect of the Sun

 

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The sun gifts us with joy, delight, and pleasure.  It brings out the best, the beautiful.
Subtle Colors thrive amidst the bold.
Spring brings forth its bounty.  Summer explodes into full bloom.

I’m looking forward to both but summer is winning the race.
The heat of the sun upon my skin.  Its warmth delves deep, right down to the bone.

Good bye frigied cold Randolph, NH winter of 2014-2015!

Alpine Glow

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Alpine glow at sunrise ablaze from my backyard Mt. Crescent.

I’m wishing for spring and the warmth summer.
But a glorious display changed my mind this morning.

What’s the hurry?
Why be impatient?

Give in to the day
And savor its treasures.

“Chickadee, dee, dee, dee.”

Birds create a fantastical world for me.  They are beautiful to look at.  Their songs fill empty spaces with pleasure.  They have a lovely disposition and brighten my day.  I’d like to talk about one of my favorites, the Chickadee.

I’ve had many an encounter with the Black-Capped Chickadee from the sharing of meals to a bit of humor.  I’ve seen how they care for other birds, showing them the way.

One such time was when we had a young Robin winter over up here, where the weather turns bitter cold and the snow piles grow.  At first the little guy came to the feeder by himself.  A few days later he stayed  when the Chickadees came, sitting in a leafless bush far from the feeder. Where did he go when the wind blew wildly?  He just sat in the same bush with his feathers fluffed to the uttermost.  Nights were spent in the crook of a maple tree branch.  Finally, on the fifth day, he understood that the Chickadees had been offering him an invitation.  They wanted him to know when to come and eat, where to get his rest, and to sleep in a warm place.  I watched him come with the happy little guys, taking his turn to gather food from beneath the feeder.  He learned to rest in the thick branches of a cedar shrub and to sleep inside the hole of a dead tree, nestled deeply in the woods behind the cabin.

There are other stories familiar to many of the Chickadee landing on shoulders, taking feed from tiny hands,and gathering thickly to complain when “someone” was late with the food.  My funniest was during a second hike of The Appalachian Trail (a continuous trail that runs from Georgia up into Maine).  I did it differently than most by starting in Pennsylvania the second week of March and heading north.  This way I’d be alone for most of the five month journey and I was.  Anyway… I was in Vermont enjoying the rewards of what happens when the skies let loose. It was raining for the fourth day in a row.  As the previous days, the rain was torrential in the middle of the day and had nearly washed away my wonder and awe of where I was.  That is, until I came round a sharp bend in the trail just below the summit of Peru Mountain. I was face to face with a Chickadee, mere inches from my nose.  He said his usual “Chickadee, dee, dee.”  But it was obvious that he was saying more than a cheery hello.  His crisp clear few syllables shouted laughter.  He was laughing at me as I stood in front of him.  Twice!  And then, I couldn’t help myself and began to laugh with him as the rain continued to cover me like a waterfall bursting off the top of my head.  “Chickadee, dee, dee, Dee!  DEE!”  translation, “ha, ha, he, he, you’re all wet! Followed by little giggles.

I cannot claim the scientific distinction between mankind and animal.  The world is a creation beyond eternity.

Winter Landscapes

The weather has remained cold and the wind is still visiting.  A few shots of the results on a still day.

A Windy Winter Sunset

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that there have been so many days of high winds this year.  That is, unless you live here.  Today is no different from the rest.  It’s a repeat of the previous ones.  I guess the wind is living fancy free and I am at its mercy.

There have been some beautiful sunsets on these days.  I’d love to share one but you’ll have to settle for a slide show from last year as I feel no compunction to risk my hands and fingers to the sub-zero temperatures today.