I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lessons in People

A couple years after we moved here, this huge grizzly mama would come by bringing her cubs. We could tell she was around; the dog would go out to pee and her nose would go up and she'd be on the alert for the rest of the day, even when she was in the house.

This sow cased the place for a day or two, and then she would show herself at the far edge of our clearing, off in the tall grass and brush. All we could see of her was her head and shoulders. She'd stay there, calm as can be, while her cubs came on into the yard to explore.

At the time, and until a couple years ago, I had chickens, and at that time, I had a couple ducks too. These cubs really wanted to 'play' with those interesting smelling creatures in that little house. Now, at that time, I happened to have five roosters, and since it was time for the hens to be sitting on their eggs, and since the roosters would bug them unmercifully, I had left them out in the pen during the night. They were perching on a rail about four feet off the ground when the cubs managed to break down the gate to the pen. They were after the ducks and they got one.

During this hoopla, the roosters were very quiet, but as one of the cubs ran back to mom with his prize, one of the roosters shifted and fluttered. It was enough to get the attention of the other cub.

Now, to make this story even more humorous, I have to tell you a side tale. My roosters varied in size. They were all bantams. I'm not good with weights so I'll have to give you dimensions. I handle all my roosters so they were quite gentle for the most part. The smallest was barely more than a single handful; he was simply all feathers. Because of his size, the others always picked on him, fighting with him every time they saw him and running him off from anything he was eating. It got so bad that I was hand feeding him. I mean, he was so cute and so little.

Back to the bear cub. It was the littlest rooster who moved, and now that he'd been noticed, he jumped down from the perch and started to run. He ran like I'd never seen a chicken run, dodging and darting this way and that, staying just out of reach. The cub was doing his best to catch this seemingly easy target, after all, it didn't fly away, it had to be easy, right.

We were watching this little drama from our window; it was the commotion concerning the duck that alerted us to trouble, and remember, momma was standing out there on the edge of the yard, just watching. Don, in an effort to save my favorite rooster AND not kill a bear, cub or not (to kill that cub would have been so much trouble 'cause mama likely wouldn't have left at all then), was trying to get a bead on a point really close to the cub. He could have been writing cuss-words in cursive with the barrel of that rifle, that's how fast and convoluted the cub was moving.

Finally, he took a shot and succeeded in kicking some dirt up, scaring the cub away, breaking off the chase. The cub went crying to mama. He wasn't really crying but he did need a little consoling, then there was a duck prize to play with as they left. This year's lesson in people complete.

Back to my littlest rooster. Well, he'd run off a real bear. None of the other rooster could say the same. They had all stayed hidden on their perch during the entire ordeal. Never again did the other roosters get away with picking on him. He was cock of the walk after that. He was the one who did the picking. It was really funny seeing him face down his bigger brothers.

Now, notice the title once again, notice that it is plural. Mama Grizzly came back several different times. These cubs came back at least one more time, and she brought another pair of cubs by too. One visit each time; she was never an obnoxious visitor and she herself never ventured too close, nor did she ever come by alone. She did, however come close enough to mark one of our trees. One morning we discovered claw marks - the bottom of the scratches were nearly a foot above where the tallest of us could reach.

Her cubs never made it into the chicken house or it's pen again, though not for want of trying. We never had to shoot at them again either. It's as if mama brought her cubs by for a lesson on people, and as soon as they were bored with the lesson, she'd lead them away.

I haven't seen her for many years now.