Homeland Farm

Homeland Farm

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BEAR! (or, maybe not..)

    Owning a farm with a variety of animals made it hard for our family to get away for a vacation, or even an overnight camping trip for that matter. So, my siblings and I would pitch our old canvas tent at home, and pretend we were out deep in the wilderness, surrounded by wild creatures. We had a lot of fun in that old tent, but one memory sticks out in my mind the most
    My sister and I decided one steamy summer night that we wanted to "camp out." While my mother packed our snacks, Kim and I lugged our pillows and sleeping bags over to the tent that my father had set up earlier that day. Now for some unknown reason, we always pitched the tent in the horse pasture, underneath one of the apple trees. Every year after we set it up, the horses and steers would check it out carefully, then pretty much ignore it the rest of the summer.
      Kim and I made several trips across the pasture hauling our "supplies" for the night. You would have thought we were spending the week, not just one night. I brought the latest "TEEN" magazine with a hot new interview of Donny Osmond, and a horse story I wanted to finish reading. Kim brought her barbie dolls, and her crocheting, and we both brought a lot of food.
    After supper, we said our goodbyes to our parents, and headed merrily off to the tent, chatting about how our brother who had wanted to come, was just "too young" to be able to  stay all night in the tent. and how he would probably have gotten scared and had to go home. No, we couldn't be bothered by such immaturity. After all, I was 12 years old, and Kim was 9. We could handle anything. Or so we thought.
       It started clouding over around 8 pm, so we changed into our granny nightgowns, crawled into our sleeping bags, and started to read. A breeze picked up, and I thought it felt a bit like rain, so I got up and zipped up the window flaps.
       I could hear the horses and the steer stamping their feet in the barn, trying to keep the flies away. My sister was still laying in her sleeping bag, when suddenly it hit. It started to pour, and we could hear the wind picking up, blowing harder and harder against the tent.
     Swallowing nervously, my sister asked "Do you think we should go in?"
     "Nahhh," I said confidently."You know how these storms are, we will just get over to the house and it will stop." I slid back into my sleeping bag and picked up my DONNY O interview again.
        We laid in our sleeping bags, reading and crocheting, ( a couple of real live wires we were) and listened as the rain beat against the tent. Thunder crashed as lightening struck out in the woods behind us. As the storm grew closer, I got more nervous. I got up, and unzipped one of the tent flaps a bit, and could see  this was going to only get worse.
      My sister, standing beside me now, in her Petunia Pig nightgown, asked again "Do you think we should go in?"
       "Well," I faltered, "I think we will be okay as long as the wind doesn't blow any harder."
        Not very reassured, my sister went back to her sleeping bag and crawled inside, zipping it all the way up around herself. I decided to do the same thing, and soon we were snug as two bugs in a rug, despite the tent floor was getting a bit wet.
        As we lay on the ground, listening to the thunder and lightening crashing around us, I suddenly became aware of a noise outside the tent. By this time, the battery in our camping lantern was wearing down, but there was still enough light for me to see in Kim's expression that she had heard it too.
      " What..??" she started to ask.
       "Shhhhh!" I said, straining to hear. I listened for a few minutes but didn't hear anything else.
        Suddenly, something hit the back wall of the tent, by our heads, straining the canvas in toward the center of the tent. My sister and I froze in our places, not able to move. The thing came around to my side of the tent, and I could hear snuffling, and grunting. At that moment, lightening flashed and I could see a large shape move around to Kim's side of the tent, where it rammed the corner support pole. The pole fell away from the tent, causing the front part of Kim's side of the tent to collapse around her.
      Apparently, this was enough to bring her out of her catatonic state, because she screamed "BEAR!!!" and started to thrash around in her sleeping bag.
      Since I had just heard the horses and steer in the barn a short time earlier, and couldn't really see them venturing out in the terrible storm just to knock down our tent, I figured she must be right.
       "Mother!" I hollered, as I  fumbled and groped for the zipper on my sleeping bag, trying to free myself before the bear came back around to my side of the tent.
       "Help! BEAR! HELP!!!" Kim screamed, each word louder the the one before. She suddenly leaped free of her bag, and ran to the door, kicking aside her crocheting and ripping my "DONNY O" interview in half. I made up my mind right then and there that if the bear didn't eat us, she was going to have to buy me a new magazine.
      As Kim was unzipping the door, I finally got myself unzipped and out of my sleeping bag. Lightening flashed and the thunder cracked at the same moment the whole back of the tent came crashing down. Kim let out one long hair raising scream, and bolted out the door, spilling her glass of orange Zarex all over my magazine. I shuddered at the loss,  but wasted no time bolting out the door behind her.
        It was a torrential downpour as we raced across the pasture, lightening flashing, wind whipping the nightgowns around our legs. We thought we were running as fast as we could, but when we heard a heavy thump behind us, an Olympic gold medalist couldn't have caught us.
      We rushed into the house, dripping water all over the floor, and filling our parents and our little brother full of stories of how the bear almost got us, and how he collapsed the tent around us. Kim and I were adrenalin filled for a good couple hours after that, but we finally fell asleep high and dry in our beds.
       The next day, we rushed out and there it was..the tent was in tatters, all beat down, and ruined. As we ran back to the house to tell everyone what we had seen, we saw the culprit. Dooley, our steer, who's head was usually white, was stained a nice shade of "tent green." For whatever reason, he decided to wreck the tent with us in it. Maybe it was for future "blog" material, or maybe he just hated DONNY O. I guess we will never know.
Kim doing what she does best..Pretending not to know me..!


  1. How does that saying go - I didn't need to outrun the 'bear' - I only needed to outrun you!

    Sadly - all I remember of that is crouching in the barn under the stairs too afraid to go for the laundry room door because we were afraid the lightening would strike thru the barn alley! I believe we even made a run for it once only to turn back............or was that another tent episode? Because I think I remember Mother telling us we should have stayed in the tent - we would have been safer there.

    1. I don' remember..but it probably wasn't particularly safe streaking across a lightening filled pasture!