The Bear that Bought the Farm

It’s time once again to turn the calendar to autumn. Fall seems to elicit the season of the whopper – those audacious, outlandish, taller-than-tall tales spun by outdoor enthusiasts of all persuasions. One sunny day during a home energy advisor visit, the farmer in residence shared the following account: “My wife warned me not to buy the Red Ryder BB gun for my eight year old son, but don’t you know, us guys have to stick together. My son had overheard the conversation between me and my wife about the troubles with milk prices and the fact that we had to mortgage the farm, just to keep the homestead. He wanted to do his part and defend our property and bee-hives ‘from bears and other trouble makers’. (I had never seen a bear on our land and we’ve been here for three generations, but I recognized how eight year old boys might imagine the enemies without). His sincerity rated a Red Ryder BB gun, at least with me. Anyway, one day I was out harvesting the wheat on the back forty when I saw six of my milk cows skedaddling down our gravel drive, to parts unknown. Then I saw a sight that will forever remain imprinted in my memory – fast behind my Guernsey cows – stumbling, rolling over and falling, was the biggest black bear I ever did see. He was in such a state! He had my wife’s laundry entangled around him, with my wife’s slip pulled over his eyes. He would run, trip, fall down – all the while swatting at the swarm of honey bees who had targeted his exposed nose. He wasn’t intentionally chasing the cows, they just happened to be in the direction of his get-away, as had been the clothes line. The Guernsey’s had panicked at the sight of the black apparition, who was festooned in a swirl of ladies undergarments.
“I ran to my pickup and sped back to check on the wife and son. My boy was stationed in front of the farmhouse with his Red Ryder BB gun displayed triumphantly across his chest. He called out, ‘I got him, Dad, right in the nose! He won’t be knocking over any more of our bee-hives.’
“My wife was standing at the kitchen door, work apron on and her arms folded, tapping her toes. She gave me THE LOOK. She said nothing, and I dared not ask. I managed to mutter, ‘after I corral the cows, I’ll retrieve your underwear.’ She continued to stare, first at the mighty bear hunter and then at the man who knew best about small boys and guns. Then she turned and disappeared behind the kitchen door.
“My son and I commenced to locate the cattle, and after two hours in the neighbor’s cornfield and twice through the cattail swamp, the Guernsey’s were once again secured. Next, we began to track down my wife’s apparel, one piece here . . . one piece there. The trail led us deeper and deeper into the oak woods, ending at the brook pool. That old bear must have sensed that if he could just get to deep water, he could get untangled from the clothes line, and escape from the enraged honey bees, who had persisted in punishing his sore, BB shot nose. He succeeded, and all that remained was an assortment of my wife’s unmentionables swishing round and round in the current of the brook pool.
“My son took off his shoes and socks, and went to wading. ‘Hey Dad, lookie here!’ I flipped off my footwear and joined my son. ‘Well, by the Eternal . . . I think that you and the bear just discovered a shooting star!’
“And sure enough, there in the brook pool nestled a meteorite as big as a beach-ball, half covered by my wife’s slip cover (formerly worn by the honey bandit).
“Well, one thing had just led to another, and after auctioning-off that one-of-a-kind shooting star, we were able to say in all sincerity . . . that’s how the bear paid off the farm!”
Energy tip for September: Check out the fuel level in your propane or fuel oil tank. It may be time to re-order while the prices are low. Next, fire-up and check your furnace. Change your filter, and if the furnace isn’t up to par, call for a clean and tune with your local heating contractor. Take a walk through your home and make sure that the heat registers and cold air returns are in the fully open position, and that nothing is stacked on top of them, also make sure that nothing is stacked against your furnace.
Don’t forget to check out energy assistance, the energy home advisor program, and the weatherization program at Tri-CAP (for income eligible families).
Tri-CAP blog for September
Stephen Bjorklund