Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fibber the Bear Cub

A few weeks ago we started noticing that our compost area was being raided and knocked over.

We'd had notice from our neighbors earlier in the year that there was a mother bear and cub somewhere in the area, and on one occasion we saw a large bear in a far-off field.

Then one day we saw a baby bear cub near our garden. Quantum grabbed the shotgun and went out and shot off a few rounds to try to scare him off. Our biggest fears were that Mom would come to protect him (not much more dangerous than a ticked off, protective Mamma bear) and that baby would become acclimated to eating from our garbage and be less afraid of humans.

Over the past week or two, we've seen him at least eight times. Today we saw him all of three times. ACK!

We have no problem sharing our land with the inevitable wildlife, but predator/dangerous creatures are not welcome on the 5 or so acre field that we have designated for our home site and domestic animals.

We considered calling animal control, but living between federal and state land, are they going to relocate him to somewhere better (safer for all involved) than here?

At this point it is also fairly clear that there is no Momma bear involved. This guy (we don't actually know its gender) is obviously alone and foraging as best he can.

Now frankly, having bears on the land is a fact of life. It has happened, it will happen. There isn't much changing that. We can't have animal control come out for every single bear or mountain lion that crosses our land or decides to make a home here. Nor should we. Our forty acres are mostly wild territory and we'd like it to stay that way with the exception of the small area we've taken for our garden, pets and house.

However if we make a relationship with a particular bear and let it know that it will be taken care of, and what it's limits are (stay off our five acres of pasture/home) that is probably safer. Since "our" bear knows the rules and where he isn't allowed, and since bears tend to have territories, by having a working relationship with one bear, we can maybe keep away others. That's the hope anyhow. 

Doing this with a baby bear is possibly the best scenario. Much worse if we were dealing with an adult. At least this one is mentally malable/trainable.

This morning we decided on a plan to deal with him. We are going to start putting out food. Once he finds that food we will move it towards the west of our property a little each day. We'll feed him on soaked beans and rice, leftovers and possibly convince the local grocery to sell us wilted veggies and fruit at a reduced price.

We've also named our little guy. He (it) is Fibber, short for F'ing Baby Bear Brat. Photos will doubtless be forthcoming.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sauteed Radish Greens

My radishes have been growing like mad, but it was time to thin the rows. Otherwise the plants grow so close that the roots don't have room for the bulbs to get fat.

This is one of those decadent pleasures that come only if you garden. Dead simple to make, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, just a touch of peppery radish heat.

In extremis you can use radish greens from store-bought radishes, but for truly fresh deliciousness, there's nothing like eating them 30 minutes out of the garden. Sow seeds in rich, loose soil and they'll take less than a month to grow.

A fat bunch of radish greens and roots
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A large pinch (to taste) salt

Rinse the greens well. Chop the radish greens and roots in 1 to 1 1/2 inch sections. Slice any large roots thin.

In a large frying pan, saute the garlic in the butter over very low heat. Add in the radish and salt and saute till the leaves are wilted and the stems are softened but still crisp.

Stir in the  lemon juice. Check seasonings, adding more lemon juice and salt to taste.

Tonight we're having this as a side for hamburgers. The delicate bitter heat gives a sharpness that cuts the burger's fatty sweetness, making it a perfect complement.