"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where's Bob?

I first saw him on a bitter cold December evening, the moonlit sky had just been veiled in a shroud of ominous clouds as I walked along looking down, not really paying attention, trying to get my night vision to actuate. It had rained the night before and in the eerie half light my only concern was not to get my feet wet in the puddles that marked the narrow trail before me. I was forced to duck in order to avoid being whipped in the face by a cedar branch that excessive rain had bowed over the pathway. It was then that the hairs on my neck rose as a foreboding sensation overcame me causing my skin to crawl in nervous apprehension. Upon coming upright I saw a forbidding mass looming over me like a colossal wall of darkness, I was as a small child in comparison to the monstrous behemoth that stood before me...and so went my first encounter with the great beast we call Bob. :)

Like clockwork, every morning just before dawn and every evening as dusk descends upon our small homestead I tend to my anxious flock of chickens. Their place of residence lies in an old barn adjacent to our gardens a couple hundred yards from our house. I bring them food and fresh water in the morning and free them from the confines of their sleeping quarters. Evening brings with it a similar procedure as I safely tuck them in, away from the dangers that lurk undercover of darkness.


It was on just such an occasion a few months ago as I was walking out to feed the chickens and put them up for the night that I met a rather large but obviously young moose whom we now call Bob. I was startled the first time I literally ran into him as he appeared before me in the twilight with a dumb look of "what are you, and should I move" on his face. Lucky for me he was not in rut and had no interest in procuring a new mate, and slowly moved out of the way. I have learned from other encounters with wild animals that it is best to just stand your ground and allow the animal to move as they usually do, and so it was with Bob and every other moose that I have come across.


The trouble with Bob is that he wandered in but did not wander out, not for a few days anyhow... and then he came back. He comes back quite regularly and spends a night or two visiting. I do not mind as long as he stays away from our fruit trees and has so far. The only problem lies in the fact that I never know where Bob is going to show up. I always find him peering down on me from the bushes as I walk by and how many times have I almost tripped over him as he likes to lie down right outside our door or along the trail to the chicken house. It took a lot longer for me to get used to Bob then him to I, but I am finally at that point as he has posed no threat and been a most gracious guest in every aspect except for maybe his nocturnal wandering and sleeping habits. I just have to remember to ask myself upon leaving the house "where's Bob?"


Bob has lost a lot of his shiny dark coat and is not nearly the magnificent looking creature he was when we were first introduced, the winter has taken it's toll on him, but having made it this far I think that he will be just fine as we head into spring. Moose start losing their winter coats in the very early spring and often look a lot worse physically than they actually are...Other than his hair and a small cut under his right leg, that he refuses to let me tend, Bob looks pretty darn healthy. He has a good supply of snow for water and eats cedar and fir leaves as well as buds off of the brush to help see him through the lean months.

Living on the outskirts of the city and surrounded by timber and state forest land on two sides we are fortunate to experience a great deal of wildlife on our property. It is a normal procedure to be careful while opening our house door after dark as upon numerous occasions we have had various critters visit our porch in search of food. Skunks, raccoons, and stray cats most often but there has upon occasion been bear and elk in our yard as well. One of the most common creatures of the wild that we encounter only slightly less often than deer are moose. At least once a month a moose, often a mother and calf or a couple of two year olds hanging out together wander through our property, nibble on the bushes and then move off to places unknown. They often appear in the depths of winter on their never ending quest for food, a search that becomes more difficult every year as suburbia encroaches upon nature.


Something I hope everyone that decides to move into the country remembers is that we share this world with many other creatures and we must learn to work around and in conjunction with each other for the good of all. If only people could grasp this one lesson and learn to live in harmony with nature and each other. The animals are ready, now it's up to us.

The link below is a brief description on the life cycle of Bob, one of my most favorite animals.

http://users.rcn.com/jpebble/moose/lifecycle.html


video

Upon closer inspection (the making of the videos), I realize that my friend Bob is really a Bertha...hmmm.


video



Speaking of living with nature, here is a picture of a deer at my in-laws eating out of their squirrel proof but apparently not deer proof bird feeder.

4 comments:

el said...

I think it's kind of cool that moose and elk and caribou are able to eat fir trees. That's some pretty nasty stuff, pine needles.

We went on a fly-in fishing trip on our honeymoon: one couple, one cabin, a good 30 miles from any other human being (this was in Ontario). One day I looked out the back window and saw a moose. "Hmm," I thought. "I always heard moose were huge, but that one isn't. And what a funny color too: I thought they were dark brown, not light brown." Of course what I was looking at was a calf. And then another one showed up and then Mama: bigger than the cabin I swear!

Mr. H said...

Hi El,

Moose are funny animals, and do get really, really big. This girl, whom I am looking at out the window as she eats our cedar tree, is pretty small compared to some I have seen.

I am hoping now that the weather is a little better that she will move on before my fruit trees become lunch. I have not chased her off as I felt sorry for her with all the deep snow...but she has become a bit too friendly of late.

Mike

Chiot's Run said...

That deer eating from the bird feeder is amazing. They eat most of my stuff, but I don't think they eat from my bird feeder.

Mr. H said...

Susy,

The deer are definitely opportunists, along with most animals in the cold months. We never see any deer on our property in the winter as we are a little too high up but I was forced to slow down for a herd of elk today just down the road a bit.

The deer come and go all summer long though, let me know if you figure out how to keep them away from your plants. The ones around here can leap over tall fences in a single bound...deep sigh.

Mike

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