Tracking the Tyrant Farms Mountain Lion
We’d heard rumors from the old-timers in the area that mountain lions live deep in the forest near Tyrant Farms, but we’d never seen one in person.
Last week we decided to go on a deep-woods adventure hike to see if we could spot one of these seemingly mythical beasts. Of course, we brought our harvest basket and machete with us to make sure we came back safe and with deliciously fresh food, regardless of whether we were able to spot any large predators on our journey.
So away we went.
First, we walked past the new garlic beds, and were delighted to see the young garlic shoots had already grown a few inches since last we’d visited them. Fresh garlic scapes and green garlic pesto are culinary treasures we look forward to each spring.
Onward we went.
Soon, we found ourselves surrounded by lush delicious greens of all sizes, shapes, and colors:
The Tyrant shrieked with delight as she pulled out two large radishes.
We clipped handfuls of fresh lettuce greens, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts and added them to our “shopping” basket.
Onward we went.
As we walked down the terraced garden slope at Tyrant Farms, we soon found Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) growing out of the wood steps. We always make sure to inoculate the wood steps in our garden with gourmet mushrooms; after all, they’re part of our edible garden ecosystem. Plus, once the fungi has had its way with its wood step host, we use the softened wood as hugelkultur or break it into small pieces, placing it on top of our beds as a slow-release fertilizer.
Onward we went.
As we crossed the creek, Susan spotted yet another beautiful patch of oyster mushrooms growing on an old tulip poplar stump.
These beautiful mushrooms are an edible delicacy that can be found around the world, and are especially prized in Asian cuisine. They’re called “oyster mushrooms” since they have a seafood-like flavor similar to an actual oyster from the ocean. These little treasures also went into our basket for the stir fry we had planned for dinner later that evening.
Onward we went.
We walked up the next embankment, and to our joy found the hillside beneath our feet was dotted with Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria ostoyae), another wonderful edible fall mushroom that also happens to have the distinction of being the largest organism on the planet (there is one that is four miles wide in Oregon).
As we added handfuls of honey mushrooms to our basket, we heard a deep, low growl that grew into a roar. We froze in our steps…
To our horror, we realized that we had unknowingly strayed dangerously close to a mountain lion den. Just up the hill, we could see its cave, and the huge tail of the creature sticking out from its lair (which was no doubt lined with human bones from previous trespassers).
Terrified, we ran back towards the creek. The mountain lion sprang from its lair, dashing down the steep embankment to give chase to its next meal.
We sprinted down the creek embankment, crossing to the other side. It was there, in a moment of sheer terror, that we realized we’d taken a wrong turn. There was no way out. Our backs were against a steep cliff… the carnivorous beast had driven us straight into its trap.
We huddled together, watching as it slowly and confidently lumbered towards us, crossing the creek atop a fallen tree. We began thinking about what our last facebook post and tweet would be.
No. This was not how we were going to go out. We were going to do something. The Tyrant pushed Aaron forward towards the snarling creature. In a moment that was half bravery and half desperation, Aaron reached his hand out towards its exposed fangs, offering an ear scratch and belly rub in exchange for our lives.
We’ll never quite know how or why, but the mountain lion accepted our offer.
The mountain lion sat on his perch, watching us as we walked back towards Tyrant Farms. We would live to tell the tale of our close encounter with death, but our lives would be forever changed.
Back At the Farm
Safely back at Tyrant Farms, we decided to calm our nerves with drink and games.
We sampled the organic, hard apple cider that was entering its second stage of fermentation.
Next, Charlie von Cat insisted on playing her favorite game: charades. Our brains were still frazzled from our near-death experience, so we failed to guess that she was a “lemon tree,” despite the fresh lemon pedals she’d sprinkled around her plant stand. Irritated by our lack of enthusiasm and effort, she bit the Tyrant on the ankle and went back to sleep in Aaron’s sock drawer.
It had been a long, strange journey on Tyrant Farms. We hope you enjoyed this tall tale of dread and adventure. Until the next beginning, the end.
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Patricia Chandler WalkerDecember 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm
the joy of simple pleasures.
AaronDecember 11, 2012 at 12:01 am
Yes, indeed! And we like the complicated pleasures too. 🙂