As most of you already know, my mountain home in rural Appalachia houses my family farm and a wide variety of wild animals, including this skulk of handsome foxes comprised of four kits and two adults. EARLIER POST WITH PICS HERE.

Of course, I can’t resist passing out a few treats to these gorgeous critters. The label on these doggy treats says the chicken jerky is full of oils that will give your pup a healthy coat. I like shiny coats!

And foxes like chicken jerky.

Chop lickin’ good!

Of course, all wild animals aren’t quite so amusing. We take all the right precautions when dealing with our neighbors, but the usual advice of “Don’t tread on their territory and they will leave you alone!” is pretty stupid. Everything is something’s territory. Man can’t live on the moon, so we’re bound to piss something off here, or attract it to a food source.

For example, here’s a nasty black widow spider on the porch. Until I moved out here, I’d seen one my whole life. Now I see buckets full. Literally. They made a nest in a bucket in my greenhouse. I had to have the place fumigated last year.

They also tell you black widow spiders are small. I’d love to have those people out here to measure these monsters. They don’t look small to me.

Last summer, I had a scary encounter with a rattlesnake in my potato patch, not two feet from my right hand, rattling and rearing up. My career flashed before my eyes. I backed away, and ceded the territory. Didn’t see it again.

We have this lovely deer feeder out back, for spoiling Bambi and friends. It’s illegal to feed them during hunting season, but any other time, we love having them in our orchard for dinner, and not as the dinner. This enormous fellow stopped by just the other day.

I believe thats’s a fellow anyway, with shed antlers. Biggest deer I ever saw.

Unfortunately, the bear also love deer food. A few weeks ago, an enormous black beer climbed all over the feeder looking for dinner. I was unable to get photos, but when I walked out awhile later, the bear was still in the wood, and began to roar. I made a strategic retreat.

Yesterday, I went out for an evening walk in our meadow after a long trip into town. Isn’t our meadow pretty?

And big. Here’s my folks in for a visit, and they are dwarfed by the landscape.

It’s easy to get blase about taking a nice walk about our peaceful kingdom, but wouldn’t you know it: the day I go out for a stroll unarmed and in designer shoes, look what’s waiting for me at the end of the woodland path leading home?

Hello, bear.

I could see this was a cub about a year old, but this did not make me happy. Bear cubs are usually accompanied by cantankerous bear sows. I decided to snap some photos in case I was eaten. I did not want the zombies to take the rap.

I did exactly what you are supposed to do in this situation, which is nothing. We just stood there staring at each other and I wondered if his mum was circling up on me from behind to take a bite out of my leg. I know black bears are not very aggressive, but who wants to be a statistic?

Unfortunately, I was a little rattled, and did not check the focus on my camera. My bad.

Eventually, he wandered off. I wondered if I should finish my journey home through the path (which crosses the orchard and ends at a stream next to the house, which I fully intended to leap across at top speed while I fled,) or if I should cut through the woods in the opposite direction and circle around. Then I realized what useless shoes I was wearing, and wondered if I got attacked in the woods how inconvenient it would be to search for my mutilated corpse.

So, I waited and waited, then walked right across where the bear had been, as calmly as I could manage. As I did, I heard him behind me. That was disconcerting.

I made it across the orchard without fleeing in terror, and I was very proud of myself for not being a total weenie.

And now you get pictures.

There are so many delicious things for bears to eat here, removing temptations that bring them near our home would be impossible. We have wild blackberry brambles ten feet high, and acres of huckleberry. Most of the animals, including the snakes, have a terrific sweet tooth. As the berries ripen, and the orchard gets fat with fruit, it’s a zoo out here.

There is an enormous persimmon tree that the deer favor. As the fruits fall, they ferment. The deer eat the fruit and get drunk, and stagger about. It’s hysterical. Will have to try to capture this event on film someday.