Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Bear Tales

Usually by the time I slop the hogs at night, it is late. Dark. I take a light but as often as not, if the moon is out, just walk by the light of it. Now in September there are the glow worms adding their light to the mix, seeming to reflect the stars in the sky sometimes to the point of it becoming disorienting about which way is up.

A cat or two usually goes along for as I do a chore here, a chore there, I set the slop bucket down and it has milk in it and the cat(s) will take the opportunity to lap a little. I shut different groups of chickens up for the night, gather buckets, check nests for eggs that may have been missed, make my way the quarter mile or so to the hogs.

When they hear me they start grunting. I am always amused by them. It is a challenge to get the slop into their pan without spilling too much - which is why the old-timers used a chute. But after their food is delivered they cease to make noise and commence to just eating.

The hog pen is near the bee yard which is guarded by a dog and an electric fence since last year a bear ate every hive of bees we had and we had to start again from scratch this year. The game warden said I could shoot the bear in the butt with bird shot -- yeah, right, I want to shoot a BEAR with BIRDshot.

The other night, with the pigs eating, I went to scratch the dog's ear and I heard it; a faint "grrrr-rrr-rrr" sound. My first thought was of a bear - it is the time of year for them to come around since they need to gain weight for the long winter's nap and some honey and bee larvae would be just the thing. I thought it must be an awfully hungry bear to be scoping out a bee yard guarded by a dog though. "Grrr-rrr-rrr," it said. I looked at the bees; no damage. I looked at the pigs and the dog: no alarm, no attention turned to anything. I looked at the empty slop bucket: Junior the cat was finishing cleaning it out and purring.

It was his purr I was hearing! Not a bear at all.

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