Post-Solstice at an Urban Oasis

The last week of December, 2015, and we are outside barefooted, and inside without having had our wood stove going for the past two weeks.

Ready for Fall Honey ExtractionFall Honey Extraction

It’s unseasonably warm.

Natural Comb Cleaning ServicesWax-Cleaning Bees: post Honey Extraction

Enjoyable for me comfort-wise. As an active part of this ecosystem, though, I am feeling a tad uneasy: how are our perennials doing? What are they going through?

Abundant Growth in and beside our HoophouseYear’s End Abundant Growth: inside and out

I like to feel that, as part of dormancy, plant spirits (energies) are uncontained by, and not limited to their plant body, leaving just enough presence to keep the body alive. What happens when the weather is as warm as it has been, not allowing for their disengagement?

December NettlesDecember Nettles

On the global scale, the Pacific warming (El Nino), in it’s 3rd strongest season, has affected the Jet Streams’ usual winter southern activity, resulting in cold weather descending in the west, and keeping it away (northward) in the east, especially the southeast.

Meyer's Lemon Dec. Pollinating BeesDecember Lemon Blossoms Bee-ing Pollinated

El Nino has reached it’s peak (strength-wise). It’s decline will not be immediate, and as it weakens, the Jet Stream will start to overpower El Nino, and begin dropping southward, activating more normal winter weather in the east.

Late December Elm OysterPost-Solstice Elm Oyster…Yummy!

As an urban orchardist and organic gardener, I am aware that my ecosystem needs prolonged, harsh winter temperatures to help control populations of pests,  both macro and micro.

Bottling last year's Hard CiderLast Years’ Apples Ready for Bottling

From this perspective, as well as also giving our perennials the amount of dormancy they require, prior to budding out and breaking into flower, I welcome winter’s coldness…

Solstice Panetone for Friends and FamilySolstice Panetone: for Family & Friends

In late November, we spotted a Mama bear and her first year cub, moving between our neighbor’s and our properties (both of us keep chickens). This, in itself, was not the least unusual. What followed, though, broke our experiential mold!

Polite Black Bear by Henhouse Polite Black Bear Moving Near Henyard

A week later, during a 5 day period, the small cub killed and ate 3 of our neighbor’s hens. Mama was not to be seen.

Local Black BearsLocal Bears Enjoying Acorns

Two days later, while working in her clay studio, Chiwa (my wife) had a feeling to go outside – which she followed. As she rounded the studio corner, she saw a dark movement in the chicken yard. The bear cub, was climbing the hen yard fence, from the inside, with our favorite hen (Missy) in it’s mouth.

Chiwa shouted and ran towards the enclosure just as the bear touched ground. With her yelling and approaching, the bear dropped Missy, and after a moment’s indecision, melted away into the bamboo thicket.

By that time, alerted by the shouting, I too showed up on the scene. Missy was leaning against the fence. We picked her up gingerly, expecting but not hoping for the worst, and, although feathers were dropping away, and her back was wet with bear saliva, we were greatly amazed to find no puncture wounds.

Chiwa and Missy after the Bear EpisodeChiwa and Missy After Bear Trauma

Missy’s heart was pounding, and her eyes glazed over, so we both placed our hands on her, and enveloped her in Healing Light Energy. Within a few minutes, her heart returned to a more normal beating, and we returned her to her henhouse. By the next morning, she seemed to have returned to her normal self.

The hens, though, as well as we, knew it was just a matter of time before the bear returned.

Fortunately, and just in the nick of time, our neighbors had erected an electric fence around their hen yard, and graciously agreed to take in our hens until we were able to erect our own electric fence.

Our Hens Going for a Sleep-OverOur Hens Heading for a Sleep-Over

Within a few hours, from inside their home, our neighbors heard a loud “crack”. and looking out the kitchen window, saw the young bear six feet up in a tree, inside their electric fence. They ran out, and within moments, the bear came to it’s senses and quickly climbed down, ran, hastily climbed over the gate, dropped to the ground, and ran off.

We surmised how the mystery drama unfolded: the bear approached, stood up and surreptitiously reached above the electric wire to the regular fence, and pulled itself up. Once it’s feet were off the ground, their was no complete circuit, hence, no electrical charge. Still against the electric fence, when the cub reached over to the nearby interior tree, the circuit was now grounded and the bear was walloped with 6,000 volts, in effect, knocking it against the tree.

A few days later, the bear was spotted walking in through our neighbor’s front gate, turning west along the fence line, and walking away and off their property, never even looking over at the chickens.

Until I can set up a bear-proof fence, our hens are still sleeping- over next door. Our wonderful neighbors and we, are ordering day old chicks for a February delivery, and with good fortune, plan to expand our diminished flocks next spring.

As the new year approaches, so does predictions of more seasonal weather pattern.

We, and our wood stove await…

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About goodheart

Education: Warren Wilson College (BA Environmental Studies) 1987: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (MSc. Natural Resources) 2005 Permaculture Design Certificate (The Farm, TN) 1994 Presidential Volunteer Award: 2005, 2006, 2007 Experiences: National and international Permaculture teacher and practitioner since 1995; Sustainable land use and permaculture consultant; International consultant for small plot sustainable agriultural projects; Home orchard consultant; Endangered species observer for sea-turtle and whale projects; Field biologist and naturalist; Gourmet natural food chef and teacher; Home baker (artisan breads) brewer & fermenter; Home orchardist; BeeKeeper; Ecological gardener; Broom-maker in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and general bio-philiac...
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