The Load We Bear

We’ve got a problem.

250 pounds of problem (give or take a couple pounds).

It has no manners, by which I mean it steals food, scares the slop buckets right of the hand’s of homesteading housewives and then shits (I can use that word in this context, I think) all over the place.

No, it’s not a muscular husband with an gregarious appetite, bad jokes and horrendous diarrhea.  (Though there are nights when Andy fits the bill on one if not all three of these accounts…)

It’s a black bear.  Ursus Americanus.  Pilferer of livestock, eater of hog scraps and chicken feed, eluder of an entire neighborhood of aggravated and grandly inconvenienced country dwellers.

We’ve been having trouble with this bear for over a month.  First, he drug two buckets of our pig scraps off into the woods and had himself a feast.  Next, he showed up in our front yard, smacking his chops and eyeing the property for food that wasn’t chained down.  (Andy shot at him three times that day, intentionally missing each time but trying to get the point across).  Then, he wandered up to Ivy’s and ate every bit of her dog food.  Rachael & Woody were next.  The bear braved their treacherous driveway for a shot at some bird seed and a chance to terrorize some ducks.

And then the Schmidt’s went on a BWCA canoe trip.  The night we left, the bear showed up, tore down the hog fence, ravished our darling pigs and left nothing but a few piles of seedy, suspicious shat as a thank you.  Hedonistic, thankless heathen.

I can only imagine Woody’s horror and shock the next morning when he came to do our chores because we, of course, were blissfully unreachable.  Catching walleye, paddling serene lakes and enduring violent thunderstorms in partially waterproofed tents.

Woody, on the other hand, was on a pig hunt.  He bush-whacked for miles through our woods and those that surround our property.  He swears he didn’t call out “Here piggy, piggy, piggy…” but I don’t believe him.  28 hours later, after following clues that included random hoof tracks in the mud and notes from neighbors pinned to the door reading “your pigs were in our yard but now they’re gone” Woody tracked down five our our six pigs and lured them back into their pen, he and all the traumatized swine trembling with relief.

When we got home Monday night, Woody showed up with his crazy story and a live bear trap.  What’s a live bear trap, you ask?  Well, here’s a picture of a professional one in good condition:

We, of course, don’t own things in good condition.  Meaning, Andy and Woody spent two hours jerry rigging a rusted-out culvert trap with bungie cords, clothes line and coffee cans.  The trap door slammed shut on Andy at least a dozen times during the process.  “On purpose,” he assured me.  After the fact Andy said “There’s no way I could’ve figured it out on my own.  And Woody couldn’t have either.  Collectively, though, we had just enough engineering brilliance to pull it off.”  Hoorah for the unity of half-wits.

So, what happened come morning, you might be thinking?  Nothing!  The bear tore the hog fence down again, crapped all over and snubbed his nose at our trap.

The next night?  He was seated comfortably in front of Rachael’s chicken coop, munching of chicken scratch.

Tonight, though, I’m determined.  (I say I because Andy is conveniently out of town for the whole week at a work training for sustainable food initiatives in native tribes.) After I put Sparrow to bed, I hiked up my skirt, put on my muck boots and loaded that trap with a whole bucket of french fries, fish skins and bacon grease.

Hopefully Ivy has her camera, because I’m sure the bear will be hanging out at her place for the remainder of the evening.






About Amy Woschek Schmidt

little moon hoping to reflect the Light. writer of stories. mama to sparrow. wife to schmidty. wholy redeemed by the Holy One, Jesus Christ.
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6 Responses to The Load We Bear

  1. Sarah says:

    I love your blog, Amy.

  2. Dave Harvey says:

    I needed that laugh. After seven years of bear free living, we are being pestered by a bear as well. I have been looking for a chance to shoot some warning shots but, I fear, they are a waste of ammunition. It has tasted what it wants and will not likely leave until a warning shot passes through heart and lungs. Hope you catch yourself a bruin. Just don’t drive your trap over to Colvil and leave the latch open once you catch him.

  3. Maren says:

    Hope this morning you are greeted by a full bear trap and 5 happy little pigs.

  4. Sandy Updyke says:

    Great story. Bears can be a pain in the rear…….sometimes, no doubt about it. I had heard from someone, probably Terry, about the pigs being loose.

  5. Kristin says:

    Your version was entirely more ranting than Andy’s (not in a bad way). He just told us with his funny little squinty smile. He’s confident you’ve got this while he’s away. Let us know when to come for the Bear-B-Q.

  6. CH says:

    It might be time for the 12 gauge. While it’s really something I prefer not to do, eventually the damages take their toll and enough is enough. Get a high vantage, set up a chair and wait it out. The rules changes when pets become snacks! -C

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