Monday, February 22, 2021

Practice Parenting on the Oldest Child

I posted the next three paragraphs on Facebook the other day. I have had a few nights since to think of more dumb things I have done to that poor innocent child. 

Button, button, who's got the button

Why is it that when you are desperately trying to go to sleep, your brain remembers all the stupid things you have said and done. Of course, like Charlie Brown, in my case it takes more than one night.

When Bronwyn was a toddler, we were visiting her Grandma L and she found a small button. Her mother said "Don't put that in your mouth". I said so her mother wouldn't hear, "No, stick it up your nose".

Apparently small children have no sense of sarcasm. The upside was I learned in ER how to immobilize a child sitting on your lap.

Bronwyn loved the Jolly Jumper we had firmly anchored in the ceiling. She had a three foot circle of pounded barf in the shag rug. One day she stood on a needle and it broke in her foot. We hauled her the 100 km from Cumberland House to the doctor in Nipawin. We should have gone to the vet. He gave her 10 mg Valium instead of 5 mg (child dose) to put her out while he removed the broken needle.

The doctor warned us to be careful when she was waking up as she would react to sounds in strange ways. So I quietly went Aroo, arroo in her ear. Sure enough when she woke up she howled like a dog for several minutes. Cool. Her mother who didn't know of my experiment said she must have heard the dogs howling. I agreed, sure that must be it.

Another time, on that same road to Nipawin from Cumberland House, to entertain her, I "stole her nose" and then "put it back". Then I threw her "nose" out the window. Not smart. I had to stop the car, turn around and go back and get it before she would stop crying. Her mother was not impressed.

December 31, 1979, Kindersley this time. She was 3 and a half. Put her to bed late, wished her Happy New Year, kissed her goodnight and said, "This is the last kiss you get from me this year". Ooooh, yeah. You can imagine. That took a while to work down to a dull sniffle. Her mother was even less pleased.

But in spite of my best parenting efforts she turned out marvelously well. And by the time the fourth one comes along you realize if you just leave them along and feed them once in a while they turn out well anyhow.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Uncle Walter Goes Waltzing with Bears

 In keeping with my last two posts and at the suggestion of my friend and colleague Blair, here for your listening pleasure is Uncle Walter Goes Waltzing with Bears. I think the song is about my friend Ed, though he only goes running with bears.

Monday, February 8, 2021

More About Bears, Black Bears this time


My friend, Ed, grew up on a farm north of Meadow lake, on the far northern edge of farmable land, up against the northern Saskatchewan bush country. He claims the next farm due north of theirs speaks Russian. It is also black bear country. Ed is a marathon runner and rans at least 10 km every day from when he was young. He said the wolves and bears got o know him and ignored him. Even today when he goes for a visit, he runs and it is nothing for him to see wolf packs in the bush along the road and several bears. He has had to slow down a few times because a mother and cubs were on the road ahead of him.

It was Ed got me interested in learning more about bears. He does not consider black bears dangerous. He says if you leave them alone, they leave you alone. His sister has comfortably picked berries in the same bush as a bear was feeding on them. Cartoons and ignorance have given bears a bad name.

If you run across a bear or find one in your yard, advice is to stand and face the bear directly. Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave. Never run away from or approach him. Make yourself look as big as possible by spreading your arms or, better yet, a coat. Make as much noise as possible by yelling, banging pots and pans or using other noisemaking devices. If the bear does not leave, throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or air horn. Prepare to use bear spray. If you are near a building or vehicle get inside as a precaution.

I have ‘Liked’ several bear pages on Facebook which is where I get the pictures I share. And where I have learned a great deal more about them. Pages include: Cool stuff by 8 Bears Forever, We Love Bears, Yellowstone Bears, Bear with Us – Centre for bear rehabilitation, education, sanctuary, and Bear Creek Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary. There are lots more if you look. Several of them post useful background information about bears, especially the sanctuary and rehab places.

The Sanctuary and Rehabilitation places are most interesting because they work directly with the bears, especially orphaned cubs, to prepare them to return to the wild. This article here has a great deal of background on the rehabilitation of orphan cubs in both Canada and USA. Cubs are orphaned for many reasons.

Black bear cubs become orphaned when they are separated from their mother or when their mother is killed. In most cases it´s illegal to kill a female bear with cubs. But is happens again and again because it´s very difficult to see the different between a female and a male. Mother bears send their cubs often on top of trees, when they search for food or when they feel danger. A single bear does not mean that the bear has no cubs around. Mother bears are killed because of human threats. Infrastructures like streets and trains, illegal poaching, regulated and unregulated hunting and human-animal conflicts separate and kill bear mothers.

Humanity is growing, and so the space they need grows too. Habitat fragmentation (agriculture), less habitat to live and the decreasing of resources drives bears closer to humans and they go on properties and into cities to find food (for example: garbage, bird-food). As a result, human-animal conflicts occur. Bears are killed or rehomed. The cubs stay behind.

Honey farms and bee yards are a major source of human-bear conflict. Bears love honey as Winnie the Pooh will tell you. Saskatchewan’s honey industry is canola based and canola is grown in the Parkland area which is home to many black bears as there is good bush cover closely available. Most beekeepers fence their bee yards with three strand electric fence to keep the bears out. The bears have to be trained to the fence, so they know it hurts. Hanging open sardine cans from the top wire will entice the bear to touch the fence. One touch and they are trained not to do that again. If the bear is not trained, it might just run through the fence before it feels anything and then they are a danger to other bee yards. It is legal to shoot bears within one mile of a bee yard.

I have only seen a bear with cubs once years ago at Fort Carlton with a Grade Seven class on a camping trip. The bears ambled along the river bank a few hundred meters from our tents. We were thrilled and also worried as we didn’t know that the mother would not charge us for no reason, so the kids stayed close to the campsite.

Current Black Bear Range in North America

This mother bear has a litter of five cubs

The cubs as yearlings

Triplet cubs

Quads litters occur more frequently in Black Bears
 than Grizzlies judging from the number of photos posted anyway

Orphan cubs at a rehabilitation centre

Cooling off in someone's back yard