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Ken Anderson

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since Feb 25, 2012
Millinocket/St. Agatha, Maine
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Recent posts by Ken Anderson

I haven't planted them yet, but what I'm finding is that the Daikon (Minowase) Radish is classified for USDA Zone 3-9, and I'm thinking that should work in North Central Michigan. I am going to try some in Northern Maine this year, anyhow. Swiss Chard sounds like a good idea, as well.
8 years ago
That sounds like a good way to handle it.
8 years ago

Brenda Groth wrote:we have a lot of black bear here in Michigan..and we have them around from time to time..but as you more annoying than a dog..actually less annoying than the stray or let loose dogs in the area.

I grew up in the UP. I lived on a farm and never saw bears there, or evidence that they came around, although they were in the woods that began at the edge of the field. If there's a bad wild crop, they can be expected to look elsewhere for food, and that may be someone's backyard, if they can find food there. I am also planting perennials with the understanding that I'll be sharing with the bears and other creatures.

Brenda Groth wrote:I'm fairly noisy when I'm out and about..but not overly..I'm just large and clumsy..and generally walk they know I'm around..i don't often carry a gun with me..occasionally a cell phone..but not even often that..unless I'm walking a distance.

I don't have cellular coverage when I'm in the woods, although there are some clearings that I can get a signal in. I don't generally make a point of being loud in the woods, but a bear would have to be deaf not to know I'm coming before I could ever see him. The only exception is the cedar swamp. the ground there is mossy and all but clear of underbrush so walking through the cedar swamp doesn't create a lot of noise. When I think of it, sometimes I'll talk to myself or hum while I'm walking through that part of the property so as not to stumble upon a sleeping bear, although I still doubt that it's necessary.

As mentioned, I go out without a gun about as often as I carry one, but whenever I come across bear scat that is still soft, I start imagining things, so if I know that I'm going to be walking well off the road I'll sometimes bring a gun. Truly though, bears that are really interested in attacking someone do so without warning, so it's unlikely the gun would do me any good. Still it eases my mind some.
8 years ago
When confronted by something approaching along a trail or through the woods, a bear will generally run. But often, it will then circle back to see what it was that it had run from. So that a bear that I might catch a glimpse of scurrying into the bushes might be secretly watching me from the bushes later on. I saw a photograph once, that was taken by someone who was taking pictures of scenery in the forest. Only after he developed the film did he notice that a bear was there, barely visible, but watching him from the brush line.

Changing subjects slightly, I don't hunt and my property is posted, not because I object to hunting but because I enjoy the photos and video that are captured by my wildlife cameras. However, well meaning people are making big mistakes when they lobby to ban bear hunting, except in places where their numbers are actually very low. One of the reasons that bears retain an otherwise unwarranted respect for human beings is that they have come to associate us with bad things, such as guns and death. I don't know how much of it bears understand, but they have a fear of people that isn't justified by our comparative size, strength or agility. Bears who reside entirely within national parks or in parts of the country where bear hunting has been banned for a few generations of bears will come to lose that respect, and correspondingly become more dangerous to us.

I worried about the bear that I have most commonly seen on my wildlife camera photos and video because, for a period of about a month during bear hunting season last year, he hadn't appeared. Learning the four bears had been shot just beyond our property lines, I thought he might have been one of them, so I can understand and empathize with the sentiments that lead to calls to ban the hunting of bears, but it is not an appropriate action.

I am sixty years old, overweight, and I fall down sometimes just walking through the woods. Except for the fear of being hunted, bears have no reason to fear me. Yet they do, and I think I'd like to keep it that way.

Oh, I should mention that the bear that I was concerned about showed up again about a week after hunting season ended. Apparently, he was just hiding out for the duration. I've had this property for less than two years and prior to my posting it last year, it was hunted.
8 years ago

richard valley wrote:Ken, I can imagine having deal with a bear. We have a good deal of problems with bear in the mountains. For a long time they were protected, when a problem bear was caught he was released elsewhere where he would again be a problem.
We had one doe taken, another mortally wounded. He haunted us for 10 days. We were afraid to let the children out of the house. I slept in the barn overhead but he would just strumb the fence, he knew I was in there, when I came in he would be over the fence. He's a good bear now.
An electric fence has done wonders and a light so I can see, to make a good bear, if rain shorts the fence.

They break into homes with people inside. One lady and her child were called for help trapped in her house while a bear trashed her home. The sherrif came the bear wouldn't leave, he shot the bear. Nut were calling his wife, saying they were going to kill the family for shooting the bear.

I use to like them but they're no fun any more.

Richard, I wanted to continue the conversation but realized that it had more to do with bears than with guns, so I didn't want to take this thread off-topic. I have created another one at Living with Bears.
8 years ago
In another thread, about carrying guns on a homestead, I mentioned bears. Wanting to reply to a resulting post, I realized that what I wanted to discuss wasn't specifically about guns so, not wanting to take the other thread off topic, I thought I'd start another here. People tend to have strong feelings about bears, even those who have never seen one, and there are reasonable arguments that can be made in all directions on the subject, so let's have at it. Doing a forum search, I can see that a fairly lively discussion has already taken place here on bears in compost piles but, since I wanted to talk about more than compost piles, I decided to start a new topic.

First, I am not an expert on the subject, don't claim to be, and haven't even played one on TV; however, I did grow up in bear country and currently have a hundred acres of land in northern Maine that I share with at least four individual black bears, some of whom only visit during mating season. I don't think that I am naive when it comes to bears, and sometimes even carry a gun while walking on my land, yet I have no reasonable expectation of ever having to use it, and just as often I don't carry a gun when walking on my land.

I have never actually seen any of the bears on my land in Maine, because bears prefer it that way, but I have trail cameras set up that I move to various parts of the property, and hardly a day goes by that at least one bear doesn't show up on camera. In fact, I have a theory that one particular bear has made a game out of finding my camera because even when I moved it into a small clearing in the middle of a cedar swamp on the far end of the property, he was there within a few days. Since black bears on camera often look very very much alike, I may have had more than four individual bears.

From homesteaders and others who live in or on the edge of bear country, I often get the feeling that the very presence of a bear is seen as a threat and an imposition, and many will voice opinions reminiscent of early views of Native Americans, that the only good bear is a dead bear.

I grew up on a small farm on the edge of bear country, and spent a great deal of time in the woods, and have never viewed bears as a threat, at least no more than I would dogs or other people. In fact, far more people are killed each year by dogs and other people than by bears. I grew up in the UP of Michigan, where there were bears in the woods on the far side of our pasture, yet only once did we see one outside of the woods, and that was a young black bear that we watched running across the pasture, crossing the road and our neighbor's pasture, the into the woods on the other side. Generally, bears that have not been acclimated to people will go way out of their way to avoid being seen. We always had a couple of dogs, so there was never any evidence of bears coming into our yard or around the barns and outbuildings. Yet there was plenty of evidence of them in the woods. If we were to see a bear in the woods, it would be a fleeting glimpse of a bear's butt retreating into the bushes.

As children, we camped out in the woods all the time, without parents or adults with us, and neither we or our parents ever show any fear of harm coming to us from marauding bears. My cousins and I spent two full weeks in a teepee sort of structure that we had built ourselves out of native materials. Of course, there were always some scary moments, hearing the noises of animals scuffling about outside of our tent at night, but these villains of the night were as likely to have been raccoons than bears.

Recently, I did some research into the numbers of people killed by black bears in North America. I don't have the statistics in front of me right now, but most of these fatal attacks were committed by caged bears or bears that people had turned into pets, followed closely by attacks occurring in national parks or other unnatural environments, where bears have become acclimated to viewing people as sources of food. Third, but way behind the other two, were that of bears in places that had only recently been settled by people, where there were more bears than the natural environment could support.

Maine had only one recorded fatality caused by a black bear, which is the only kind of bear we have here, and that was a bear that had been kept in a cage at a gas station in, I think it was in the 1930s. The gas station owner, and keeper of the bear, had gone into the cage with the bear for some reason, and was attacked and killed. Going back as far as 1900, there were no recorded deaths caused by black bears in the wild in Maine, and very few attacks. Our black flies probably pose more of a threat than our black bears.

The dangers presented by black bears are nevertheless real and are, to some extent, probably regional in nature. Black bears in Maine, with its vast woodlands and forests, have little need to rummage through people's trash cans at night, or to enter homes looking for food.

Bears are nearly always in search of food. Over the spring, summer and fall, a black bear will put on a huge amount of weight, in preparation for winter. Rather than being major predators of deer or livestock, black bears rarely hunt and kill animals larger than rabbits or rodents. When bear are found feeding on a deer or on someone's cow, the greater likelihood is that the animal died of something else before the bear came along. Eighty-five to ninety percent of a black bear's diet consists of vegetable and plant matter, and a large percentage of its meat is in the form of insects, caterpillars, grubs and other crawly things.

The above refers to a black bear's preference. However, black bears are highly adaptable. When its environment is changed, whether by human encroachment or other destruction of the forests and woodlands in which it lives, then the bear will look elsewhere for food. One of the places it might look is in your backyard. A dog will generally be enough to keep a bear away, and I've seen video of large bears being chased away by little ankle-biting dogs. Otherwise, if the bear comes into your backyard, it will usually be at night. If it finds food in a trashcan that you have left outside, it is going to get into that trashcan, and it will remember your backyard as being a source of food. Other attractants include birdfeeders, food stored in accessible outbuildings, dog food bowls left outside while the dog is taken in at night, or chickens and other kinds of poultry. A very hungry bear might look to larger animals as prey, but generally any animal larger than the bear will be safe from harm.

People who live in the city take precautions to protect their stuff. At the very least, they lock their doors and their windows, and they don't leave their keys in their car. People may go beyond that, to hire security companies, installing burglar alarms, and maybe carrying their wallet in their front pocket rather than their back left pocket, where thieves may expect to find it. We warn our children to look both ways before crossing the street, and not to talk to strangers.

Yet, when they move to the country, they think that they don't have to worry anymore about anyone taking their stuff. That's not true. Not only are there dishonest people in the country as well, but you need to concern yourself with the raccoons, skunks, bears and other critters who may be lurking about in the night, or even in the daytime, looking for your stuff. Take similar precautions. Don't put food wastes in trash cans or bags outdoors or in easily accessible porches and outbuildings. Take your birdfeeder in at night, or make sure that it's not accessible by bears. Birdseed is very high in the calories that bears need and are looking for, and they will be strongly attracted to it. If you have a dog, don't yell at it to shut up at night because it's probably busy doing its job, as annoying as it might be at three o'clock in the morning.

Don't feed the bears, whether intentionally or accidentally, and they are not likely to be a nuisance. Feed the bears, and you can expect to find more of them. If you remember reading about the marks that hobos would put on people's fences indicating whether or not they were a soft touch, it's a little like that, I think. Bears will remember the places where they have found food in the past, and they will come back. If you don't find food, you may still have a bear coming in to investigate from time to time, but you won't have repeat visits.

In my research, I have read some accounts of people whose homes or camps had been broken into by bears, some even resulting in attacks. At least two of these people had been feeding the bears, because they enjoyed seeing the bears in their yard. Once you have a bear in your yard, the animal can smell any food that you might have out in your house and, although it would certainly be unusual, the bear might decide that it's worth the effort to go in and get some. Campers are wisely told not to keep food in their tent. If you are living in bear country, it's a good idea not to leave food lying around in your house either, such as on your table or on a window sill. Of course, the first step would be not to attract them into your yard to begin with.

When you are in the city, do you leave your wallet lying on the seat of your car where anyone walking by can see it? Of course not, because that might tempt someone to break into your car and take it. It's the same principle, only bears can smell a lot better than they can see, so you want to keep the smells down.

My experience is restricted to black bears. While I have done some reading on brown bears, grizzlies and polar bears, I don't know a lot about them. Of course, you should feel free to discuss them here as well, if you wish. There are more similarities than there are differences.

The most dangerous black bear is one that has been acclimated to people, and which has come to view people as sources of food. These would be the ones who can be found in national parks or other unnatural habitats. These might also include those that have become accustomed to being fed by people, whether intentionally or through carelessness.

The next most dangerous black bear is one that resides so far into the wilderness that it has no experience with people at all. Such a bear might view a person as being the 150-pound weakling that he is, and could potentially view the person as being food.

Then, of course, there are the aberrancies. It is not the norm for people to molest, rape, murder or cannibalize people, yet there are people who do these things. The same may be true of a bear. For reasons that may make sense only to the bear, some bears might just simply be dangerous. With such bears, there is probably a story behind whatever it is that they are, as there is with people who exhibit aberrant behavior, but that story doesn't matter to you if you are being attacked. This is outside of the norm, but it can occur. Nevertheless, just as most of us don't walk around in cities and towns with an unreasonable fear of people, we shouldn't have an unreasonable fear of bears while we are in the forest. Caution and respect are in order, but not fear.
8 years ago
I sometimes carry a gun when I'm on my property in northern Maine, but it's not people that I'm concerned about. People in northern Maine pretty much respect other people's property and, while I have had people stop to introduce themselves or to talk when I'm near the road, I have yet to see anyone trespassing on my property, nor have my cameras picked up anyone. I sometimes carry a gun because of the bears, although I'm not particularly worried about them either. My wildlife cameras have picked up at least four different bears, particularly during mating season, but black bears are unlikely to allow me to see them in person, let alone attack me. Unusual things do happen though, so I sometimes feel more comfortable carrying a gun if I'm going to go far off into the woods. Oddly enough though, my cameras pick up far more bears nearer to the road than deep into the woods, but I try not to allow logic to have absolute control over my actions. I can't imagine ever having to use my gun on a bear, let alone a person.
8 years ago
When I was twelve, I found them to be quite useful as catapults. If you trim the branches from them and cut the top just above a "Y", you can bend the sumac over almost to the ground and it has quite a spring to it, catapulting sticks or other ammunition quite a distance. Other than that, I can't think of anything.
8 years ago
My understanding is that any type of crabapple can be a good pollinator. As for other uses, that would depend on the variety of crabapple you chose. Some of them are good in pies, particularly when mixed with other types of apples, and they are good in pies. Of course, they also attract wildlife, the advantages there being a matter of perspective, i suppose.
8 years ago
I have a hundred acres in the St. John Valley of Maine's Aroostook County, not far from the Canadian border. Except for about thirty or forty acres in the southwestern part of the property, which is a cedar swamp, I am told that it was all in potato production thirty years ago. Currently, we have one field, and another that we own part of, that are leased to a potato farmer on a year to year basis, the rest has grown into a woodlands, with several small clearings and an old, ungraveled, logging road that has grown up into ferns and saplings, which amounts to a long clearing. My property is bordered on the northeast and east by a small brook. With mountains on two sides of our property, we get a fair amount of runoff each year, resulting in a couple of seasonal streams running from west to east, joining the brook. Last spring, summer and fall were very rainy, so these streams continued running throughout the season. A seasonal gravel road runs through the property, with the bulk of our property on the west side of the road. The road becomes a snowmobile trail in the winter. The potato fields are both on the east side of the road. In a wooded area between the potato fields, I have cleared a small area on which I have placed a cabin, which I'll be completing in the spring. We don't live on the property, nor are any utilities available there; although drilling a well is on the agenda for the near future. My wife and I live about three hours to the south, near the geographic center of Maine.

I have been doing some reading on forest gardens, which is what led me to this forum. I have a few other books as well, but most helpful has been the two-volume set, Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke. I am not planning on creating a forest garden on a large scale, since I already have a forest (woodlands, actually), and don't plan on doing a lot of clearing. However, I do plan to clear small areas, and make use of some of the clearings that I already have, planting perennial crops as I can, beginning this year, and adding others in subsequent years. Our land borders on several hundreds of acres of undeveloped woodlands and forest on the west and south, and a couple of hundred acres, at least, on the other side of the brook, which would be east of us. To the north, the nearest house is almost exactly two miles away, where the land is mostly agricultural. I put a wildlife camera in the woods last spring, buying another one during the summer, and they picked up at least four individual bears (one that was there throughout, with three others showing up during mating season), some moose, and white-tailed deer, all of which I would be pleased to share my land with.

For that reason, I don't want to do any aggressive cutting on the west side of the road, although I'll be doing some selective cuts, with the intention of doing some planting in various part of the woods. Over the past months, I have been adding plants to a database that I'd like to have, and which will grow in our hardiness zones, which borders on zones 3 and 4, paying particular attention to those that are native to Maine, and especially those that are similar to plants that are already growing on our land, such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. So, I'm looking at the species that I already have and comparing them to those that I'd like to have, and plugging in compatibilities. My intentions are to have sufficient edible perennials growing in the area to be able to supplement our diet while we're staying on the property in the spring, summer and fall, and to encourage the wildlife to remain in the area, limiting our activities on the west side of the road, where the bulk of our land is, to doing some targeted planting there, protecting them from wildlife damage as much as necessary, at least until they have are well established. Otherwise, I am perfectly happy to share with the bears and other critters.

Although I do intend to get some plantings in this spring, I still have a lot of assessment to do. We have had the property for less than two years and I was in cancer treatment for much of the last half of last summer, so I haven't even walked the entire property yet. I have a pretty good idea as to many of the trees, shrubs and herbs that I'd like to have, although I may learn that some of them are not appropriate for one reason or another, but I would be interested in any ideas that anyone here might have. I am looking primarily for low maintenance perennials, although I will be available on the property until the snow comes. Currants would probably do well on our property, for example, but they cannot be legally sold for planting in northern Maine. I am not a fanatic about native plants only, although it certainly makes sense that natives are more likely to grow well there, and to play well with others.

At some point, perhaps in a couple of years, after I have finished with the cabin, we have a well, and I've established some edible perennials in other parts of the woodlands, we might want to take our potato field back and begin a more complete forest garden on this cleared land, but probably not for a couple of years. That would be a good place for it, since it has a permanant brook not too far into the woods behind the potato field, and a couple of runoff streams on both sides of the field.

You can see some of our property on my Petra, Maine Wildlife Photos site at, which features photos and video taken by my wildlife cameras during the spring, summer and fall of 2011, and which will be continued in the spring of 2012, with three, and possibly four cameras in the woods. I would appreciate any ideas, suggestions or criticisms you might have. I do not claim to be an expert on any of this stuff, although I grew up on a small farm in the UP of Michigan, which has a climate very much like that in Maine, so I'm not entirely clueless. Still, the forest garden concept is new and fascinating, and I haven't even finished my reading on the subject yet.
8 years ago