My siblings have had a trying summer with wildlife invaders in the garden. First, there was a fox who ate all the strawberries – and there are a LOT of strawberries, so he was an overachiever in this area – and who successfully eluded the Hav-A-Hart trap for some time before eventually being caught. He expressed his disapproval of this entrapment by hissing and snarling in the trap. Rob found a nice new neighborhood for him, several miles away, with both food and water nearby.
However, as so often happens with wildlife, whether they are in your house or outside it, there was Not Just One. My siblings soon became experts at trapping and relocating foxes, as a total of four went into the Fox Relocation Program with their assistance.
As if that weren’t enough, a bear somehow got in. I don’t know if you have ever had a bear in your garden, but they tend to be messy and destructive. When I lived at the old house, my then neighbor across the Ridge had a bear sit in her apple tree and eat all the fruit while merrily breaking the branches of her century old tree. Once they know there’s food somewhere, they tend to make more repeat appearances than Barbra Streisand on a farewell tour.
It was decided that the fence enclosing the garden should be electrified, like the fence around the beehives. But the beehive fence is much more modest than the garden fence, which encircles an entire acre. Not for the first time, my siblings must have wondered why they made the garden so damn big. I know the thought has crossed my lazy mind. It seems to me like they are either watering and weeding or canning and preserving on an epic scale. I guess they just think bigger than I do.
Electrifying the fence was further complicated by the fact that all the brush and bushes anywhere near the fence had to be removed to minimize fire risk. So the boys were pretty busy for a while, removing vegetation and bear proofing the fence. When it is turned on at night, it ticks and apparently you get a quite shocking shock if you are silly enough to touch it. You will not be surprised to hear that the bear has been pretty scarce ever since.
He may have moved over to my house, though this is probably unlikely since I now live about 11 miles away (though still in Hooterville) instead of a quarter mile away. Yet a bear has definitely been visiting Chez Suzy.
I first became aware of his visits when I discovered that one of the garbage cans was knocked over and had deep and alarming claw and bite marks around the rim of the can and the lid. Also there was garbage everywhere. On later visits, he seemed to drag the entire bag into the meadow/orchard area next to the house to go through it at his leisure. There wasn’t really any food in it. Vegetable and fruit trimmings go into the compost pit, and I am pretty sure they are removed by the foxes and ravens. Also the bear seems to be ignoring my apple trees as far as I can see.
Apparently, you are supposed to keep your garbage cans in your shed or garage. Unfortunately, I have neither – I don’t even have a shed to store motor oil and things of that nature. I realize that while putting up with the endless barking at my old house was annoying, it also kept the wildlife at bay. I never had bear problems there.
I have to admit that I am rather nervous getting to the car in the morning, especially since it’s now totally dark when I leave in the mornings, and although I have the porch light on and use my phone’s flashlight to get to the car, I am always worried that there is a monster in the darkness. One of my coworkers told me that bears can open doors, so I have actually started locking them, even though I can’t imagine a bear actually strolling into my living room. Or can I?
Consulting with those better versed in the ways of wildlife than I am, I learned that bears have a very sensitive sense of smell, and spraying the garbage cans and even the bags with ammonia or Windex should deter them. I have tried that, and so far, Mr. Bear has not been back to visit. Yet. Stay tuned.
A YEAR AGO: The beginning of the end. Though I didn’t know it at the time.
FIVE YEARS AGO: The actual end.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Feeling the sloth. And the cold.