Nature Provides

Take care of your land
and it can take care of you

© 2005 Steve Waller, All Rights Reserved

Updated September 9, 2005

Our land is more than a place for a house to occupy.
It freely provides pollution free electricity, pure water, wood heat,
wood as material, fresh vegetables and fruit, delicious venison and also...

Bear:


It was an older sow (female), 135 lbs dressed weight, a little heavier than average (125 lbs) for sows shot in our area.
Sows range from 90 - 300 lbs. Boars (males) can get to 600 lbs.

Opening Day
September 10th, 2003
7:50 PM

It took 3 years to get my first bear hunting permit. The DNR awards permits by a preference point system. You apply, then learn later if your application was picked.

I knew the bear was in our area because it had broken into our shed a couple times when we forgot to remove some garbage. We'd seen it occasionally and noticed tracks most of the summer.

I was baiting bear in our valley by dumping a couple 5 gallon buckets of stinky fish waste that I bought from Thills Fish House (a fresh fish store in Marquette) for $1 per bucket. I had to refresh the pile every few days so I knew the bear was there.

Since I didn't take any time off from work, I didn't hunt opening morning but I peeked out of my office window from time to time. I saw nothing.

After dinner that evening, about 7:30, I walked 100 yards from the house and sat on a high rock ledge with a clear view of the valley. Right after I left the house, Cathy saw the bear from the porch, but she wasn't sure where I was. There were no cubs.

Within ten minutes of sitting down, the bear appeared in my view. It was a perfect shot (30.06). The bear ran into the thick brush. I waited almost an hour to look for the bear (recommended) but it was getting dark quickly. I was searching in the thick brush with a flashlight. It got too dark. I couldn't find it.

Early the next morning I found that the bear had run back towards its den. With weather in the 80s, I needed to get the bear in a cooler (40 degrees) right away. I dressed it out and took it to Marquette Meats (a local butcher shop) for processing into roasts and ground meat. To make a bear rug from the pelt costs about $600.

At the base of our stairs in 2002:

It had been on the porch a few days earlier and had crushed our bird feeder a couple times.

It also left a few bite marks in the plastic bumper of the Toyota! Don't ask me why. I think it was just playing around with the bumper. The tooth puncture marks are still there today.

At night we could sometimes hear it grunting as it walked along the river.

I don't know for sure if it is the same bear I shot, but it probably is.

 


This photo was taken in July 2002.
The bear is standing 50 feet from the house stairs.


We are thinking of adopting these two cubs we found in the den on Sept. 11th, 2003. But what should we feed them?

The bear's den 2003

I never knew this den was here until, when I found the bear, it was almost in it. The den is located only 150 yards from where we park our cars.

The brushy tag alders are pretty thick back here, but many well worn trails crisscross the area. I thought that most were deer trails, but now I have to admit that many are probably bear trails that the deer use too.

The den is pretty cool. It is merely a very short tunnel, about 6 feet long, dug under an old and very large stump. I won't disturb it because since one bear liked it, another may like it some time in the future. Now that I now where the den is, I can check it from time to time.

The bottom line is that as long as there is habitat, and the habitat is healthy, nature provides. We will honor the bear for feeding our family and for making our life here at the Rock very interesting.

When you come to visit, do you prefer burgers or roasts? Send me an Email


Fruit:

We picked all these (about 20 lbs.) from one singe dwarf Hale Haven peach tree. They averaged 8 to a pound. Hale Haven is considered the best freestone canning peach of all.

A few hours and 10 pounds of sugar later...

Peach preserves taste great on ice cream (and pancakes and english muffins)! We ate a bunch of fresh peaches, made a peach cobbler (not pictured because it is already eaten), then made 18 half pints of peach preserves and 3 quarts of canned whole peaches. There are still a few fresh ones left for snacks.

Peaches

September 1st, 2005

Yes, we can grow peaches here in the frozen north! We have two dwarf peach trees growing in our small fruit orchard at Saux Head Lake. Each is a different variety: Hale Haven and Reliance.

They are both rated for zone 4-5, which is the zone at our Saux Head Lake cabin. They were planted in 1994 but didn't really start producing until the past few years. Some years are better than others and 2005 was the best yet.

Last year, I removed a Maple tree that was shading the peach tree and that (more sunlight) was the trick that turned this tree into a peach making machine! The pictures are of fruit from the Hale Haven tree. It is considered the best canning peach of all. We got peaches from the Reliance tree too but not as many.

The tree is only about two inches thick at the trunk. All these peaches weighed the tree down so much that it fell over in August! I had to tie it to the house to keep it standing upright. We picked the peaches on Sept. 1st.

An advantage to growing them at home is that we can leave them on the tree until they are ripe, soft and sweet, then pick them at just the right time and process them right away.

Based on Amazon prices, this one tree produced about $100 of preserves, $30 of canned peaches, a $15 peach cobbler, and some fresh peaches for a total of $150. It should do better every year for the rest of my life. The tree cost only $20. That comes to a +750% return on investment this year alone! I put almost no effort into growing it. We DID spend some time canning, but it was fun.

We'll be enjoying these peaches all winter (along with our strawberry and raspberry preserves) so if you can find time to make it up for skiing, we'll treat you to a super flavorful taste of our summer.

P. S.: Gentian just finished knitting the scarf she is wearing so we included it in the second picture.

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