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Leading with Love

Every morning when we bring out the checks, Katie follows us. She watches and whines, urging us to be careful as we move the growing babies from indoor enclosure to box to the chicken tractor outside. She trails the Big Guy from room to outdoors and hovers as he releases the checks into the tractor.

When the chicks are settled in their outdoor home, she’ll sniff on all four sides, inspect the sky to see if any predators are selling above, and then give a pointed look at Jim-Bob, as if to say, “Don’t mess with my chicks”.

most mornings she’ll lie down next to the coop, watching the chicks scratch and argue over who gets this would chip in that white fluffy flower. To be sure, Katie has her explorations in the woods. From the moment the chicks are in the tractor, however, until the moment we begin moving them back into the house, she lets us and them –and even the cats – know that she is there to protect and serve.

She never growls or bares her teeth at anyone. when she sees Princess Jane get too close to the coop, she will physically move herself between the chicks and arrow little gray huntress, but there are no snarls or parks. When it counts, she firm but always as loving with Princess Jane as she is with the chicks.

No one will ever mistake Katie for a huntress or vicious guard dog, but as a vigilant and caring protector, she’s becoming quite good at keeping the peace.

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The Bears are Back in Town

Every spring, without fail, at least one morning trip to the garden is marked by the discovery of an overturned composter. Unlike the weeds that I’m working to smother as I completely overhaul my veggie garden, I don’t have much control over where the bears wander and what they will smash. If you compost and you live on a mountain, you will have bears.

The first time it happened I was really po’d. It was a huge mess. The second time we had to replace a composter. Now, I just laugh.

Over the years we’ve opted for composters that can be tipped versus smashed. I have an unwritten agreement with the local Mama Bears that they wait until I’m in bed for their raids (this was not always so, with one dusk visit to the compost heap resulting in a close encounter with a mom and her cub and a change of pants for this author). 

It’s funny how so many things in nature can be a cause for fear or frustration until you understand the purpose. I don’t claim to know what the ecological purpose of a bear is, aside from making sure that I don’t eat too much of that corn I planted, but I’m willing to keep investigating.

In the meantime, I do know my laughter over the spilled compost is not a surrender to the bears. It’s a shedding of my frustration with things I can’t control and looking for constructive ways to deal with them.