|Nov. 6th, 2017 Temperature: 10*, 8-10" of snow
How do they figure it out? Bears know that there are subtle changes in the length of daylight come August. The temperatures dip ever so slightly. The mornings are crisp and frosty. Termination dust hits the top of the mountains signaling the end of summer. These small changes trigger a huge response in bears. It's a stage called hyperphagia. Let the eating and drinking begin! Can you imagine consuming 20,000 calories a day of fresh berries, delicious pine nuts and yummy moths and grubs. And while we're at it... let's just eat almost all day and night. Packing on the calories results in packing on the layers of fat which are needed for hibernation. In Montana, the bears are still in hyperphagia. With their keen sense of smell, they can locate a carcass several miles away. A hunter outside of West Yellowstone had his elk hanging in the garage, locked with a chain. Not good enough for one bear which proceeded right into the garage for some fine backstraps. When the bear came up on the porch of house and peered into the picture window... well suffice to say, that bruin had eaten his last meal. All this about hyperphagia just makes me wonder if us humans have some of these eating traits, too. As the clock turns back and temperatures drop, doesn't pasta just fit the bill? Oh, where did we hide that Halloween candy??
We decided that this past season at YNP would be our last fulltime working season. We've been home from the park about 6 weeks and had an emergency "honey-do" list to complete before winter came knocking. Any outdoor chores are best done before the weather changes, which it did Nov. 1st. Our first storm(s) of the season dumped about 7"-8" of light fluffy powdered sugar. We got a break for two days and then another smaller reminder that it was a good thing we got those outdoor chores done. Still, having two horses required trips to the barn for feeding and muck raking. No big deal...we layer up and they stay warmer with their newly sprouted winter coats. I wonder what the Clydesdales do when the temperatures are in the single digits? No heated barn on the Sussman ranch.
In two weeks we'll be shouting, "Let the holidays begin!" We are looking forward to lots of family visiting over Thanksgiving and Christmas. For those of you who are not joining us, we will miss you. Know that we're keeping a light on for you, should you stumble into Ennis over the next few months.
Stay warm, y'all... winter is coming, Mary Ann and Jeffrey