Tag Archives: Bella Coola

Goldilocks and the three bears

Compared to previous years, it has so far been a summer free of bears here in the valley. Friends visiting have been disappointed to see none on the hour long drive from the foot of the hill down the valley to our community, and I’ve heard of no home or chicken shed invasions since late spring. One theory is that this summer’s forest fires have spooked them all back up the side valleys; if that’s the case, maybe we should organize for a controlled burn every spring!

Not that there haven’t been close encounters. My own was in July, when my dog was more than usually vocal one night. Usually she’ll bark off an intruder once or twice a night, while I lie in bed judging the size of the attacker by the distance Tui moves away from the house towards the perimeter fences. If I hear her echoing against the forest in the distance, it’s a fox, while if she stays close to the front porch and whines, it’s a cougar.

This night it was an in-between barking distance so I knew it was a bear, whose size I didn’t know until dawn when I went out to free the turkeys, laying chickens and meat birds from their respective barns. The stucco wire fence and gate adjoining two of them had been broken down, probably with one swipe of a massive paw, dragging a rail along with a six inch nail away from a wall (see photo).

Fence rail smashed down beside meat bird run.

He or she (I suspect it was a she as each year I meet a mama grizzly in our yard with her cubs at some point) was probably excited by the smell or sound of our turkey flock, several of whom perch on the open window sill behind stucco wire, to take advantage of some cooler night breezes. If the bear had been insistent (as we had seen on other properties) our plywood walls would not still have been standing, but they were. I walked thirty meters along the fence line to the forest edge, the bear’s normal trail and entry point into our property, and sure enough, there was the flattened trail in the same place as previous years.

Fence smashed beside turkey barn.

I began taking my windfall apples and dumping them there as peace offering, but they haven’t been touched in three weeks. This hot summer has meant a good year for wild berries, and now the creeks are full of writhing salmon, so we may be spared any bear predations this fall.

Bear path into my yard where I leave apples for her.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to give myself or you the impression that the bears aren’t around. My friend Clarence told me just the other day that his daughter, who lives across the highway from his place ‘on our side’ (as he put it ominously) stepped out from her back door last week midmorning to confront a grizzly only meters away. And when I went to pick blackberries in Clarence’s patch last week in the last of our heat, I was un-nerved to come across a maze of flattened vines and grasses. I suddenly felt I was in the middle of a vast alfresco restaurant, with various intimate nooks where bears had lain in the shadows and feasted on the berries hanging off the ‘walls’ in all directions. It was strange to think that a giant paw may have recently brushed over the very berries I was now tenderly plucking. Clarence confirmed the fact by complaining that there is a mama black bear and cub that have been frolicking in the blackberry patch “flattening it and making a mess”.

While picking I was always on the lookout for the mama ‘just in case’. My theoretical ‘bum-per’ sticker says ‘I brake for bears.’

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Filed under Animal issues, Bears, Politicking with predators, Politics of Food

A visit to Bella Coola

For any of you interested in seeing a little of our area of the world, take a look at this fellow’s video clip. Apparently, he was a nursing student who recently did a stint here at our local hospital (which is featured in the video) who was enamoured with the Bella Coola Valley.

The opening two still shots are of the town. The first is overlooking the whole village, and the second is from the road to the wharf looking back at town. The blue building is the hospital. The he moves to the drive in and the next few still shots are from the Chilcotin, or what us locals call ‘up top’. From the second shot with his truck and red kayak on the roof and the vista in the background which is the valley below (he is on ‘the hill’ at that point and on his way down into the valley), the rest of the photos are from the valley floor. The the wide waterfall with the beautifully sculpted rocks is actually our source of power. The final shot is of the Native side of the village.

It’s a fun little video (thanks Carl!). I hope you’ll see why I became enamoured with the place too, enjoy!

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Filed under Just for fun, Uncategorized

Where we are…

Our little piece of the Bella Coola Valley outlined in yellow.

Our little piece of the Bella Coola Valley, outlined in yellow.

I was hoping to get an aerial shot of our place ever since logging on to Stonehead’s site and seeing the shot of their place (ok, so I don’t have an original thought in my head). It looked so cool, I just had to have one!

I phoned my friend and professional photographer, Mike Wigle (of the Fox and Grizzly photo fame) to see if he could do it and my timing couldn’t have been better. He had an assignment to go shoot the river system and was going to ask ‘the boys’ if they wouldn’t mind pausing over my wee farm for a few seconds while Mike addressed my request.

From this angle, it looks so small!

From this angle, it looks so small!

Since my place is not exactly a huge detour from their normal flight path, as you can see from the above photo, one could almost spit to the airport from my driveway–and my ducks have been known to visit on occasion. Thus it was not a huge ask, and Mike felt pretty certain he could talk them in to it. But I like to give credit where credit is due, and I am grateful for the effort made and consideration lent on their part. Thanks, chopper guys!

Yesterday Mike brought the photos over to me and when I asked what I owed him the conversation went something like this:

‘Those are great Mike. What do I owe you?’

‘Ah, well,’ he said, paused and then added a shrug for emphasis.

‘Well, I said I would buy them from you…’

‘Oh, I know but…well, gee…ah, it was nothing,’ and he rubbed his chin, looked away and changed the subject, stopping the conversation in its tracks.

I tried steering the conversation back to payment and he finally relented: ‘Well I do get hungry sometimes, and I know you have good food…you know, I wouldn’t mind trying those Ozette potatoes.’

Well, somebody’s been doing some reading. Food it is then. When you are not making a wage, being able to trade goods for services is quite a nice option.

Thanks Mike!

Here are a few more of his photos:

Our place is the top center part of the photo. The Ministry building is across the street (blue building), and the big field is the neighbour's. Our place starts from the straight row of young cedar trees behind the green roofed turkey barn and takes in the trees to the highway, top left.

To see more of Michael Wigle’s work, go to Jumping Mouse Studio. He does some amazing work with local wildlife!

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Filed under Sustainable Farming