Monday, September 29, 2014

Wild Critters and Harvest Time: Grin and Bear It

Now that fall is underway, the harvest is in full swing. You name it, it needs picking: zucchini, kale, potatoes, and carrots—the sweetest treat you can eat without sugar!  

With the harvest, however, I start asking two questions: 1) When is too much of a good thing not good? And 2) How full we can cram our two refrigerators and still close the doors? Since we don’t have a root cellar yet, and there are so many mice around our place we don’t dare put anything in the crawl space, it’s refrigeration or nada. One fridge is already full of Akane apples, and yesterday, we discovered the Elstars are ready. Actually, we should have seen it coming: when the tree fruits are ripe, the yard fills with robins. It’s like they fly in carrying a banner that says, Hey, the apples are ready!  And while we’re not looking, they peck mercilessly at our fruit. With the robin predation comes these super-annoying tiny flies that swarm everywhere. At luck would have it, they’re small enough to sneak through your window screens and soon your house is full of ‘em.

The fall bounty has brought out another of our wild “friends”…namely the bears. A tract located a few hundred yards from us was clearcut this past spring, and has apparently brought the neighborhood bears out into the open. I’ve never seen so much bear scat on our road—we’ve been seeing a fresh pile of their “stuff” nearly every day. Needless to say, when I take a walk these days, I’m not daydreaming about the story I’m writing, or working out plots. I’m watching my surroundings.  Vigilantly.

With bears so close by, folks around here advise that you pick up any fruit falls and dispose of them. Meaning, don’t leave fruit out in the open, tempting Mama Bear and her cubs to climb your deer fence to sample it. That’s when your garden bounty can a problem, because conventional wisdom says don’t put fruit in your compost. My guess is, fruit makes the pile too acidic, and it doesn’t decompose as it should. Disclosure: I’m guilty: I do put fruit peelings in the pile, and it works okay.  I’m even guiltier: we also dispose of whole, spoiled fruits improperly… But we make sure we toss it way, waaaayyy back in the woods. Okay, we know it will attract bears, but we know they’re back there anyway.

Needless to say, what with the bears, when Halloween comes, there’s no trick-or-treating on our streetlight-free road. But I am celebrating All Hallow’s Eve with a Goodreads Giveaway of my kids’ Halloween story, Morgan Carey and The Curse of the Corpse Bride, starting October 1! I hope you'll check it out!

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