— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — First, let it be known that the bears here at Earthfire eat extremely healthy food — buckets and buckets of fresh fruits and vegetables and a bit of high grade dog food to be sure all bases are covered. But every now and then we all need treats. Two wonderful guests asked what they could bring and we said … six cherry pies, one for each bear, with whipped cream. If you are going to do it you might as well do it right! The pies they brought were Marie Callender cherry pies (actually five cherry pies and one berry) which had to be cooked 55 to 65 minutes at 400 degrees to make sure they were properly flaky. (Major Bear in particular appreciates a flaky...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Jean flung the door to the office cabin open in great agitation. “We’re out of water! Call the Water Master!” (It was Sunday afternoon - unlikely to be effective). I asked mildly why we needed to call the Water Master. “Because he just put in a big irrigation system and he is stealing our water! How can you be so calm! I can’t wash the animals or water the trees in all this heat! And I can’t take a shower!” We are on well water, and like old western movies about range wars, there are still ongoing fights about water rights in this high mountain desert. There is little that riles up ranchers more than water rights. In the morning, without...

— by Susan Eirich, PhD — I bring him fresh-cut wild rose bushes as he comes over to greet me and daintily pull at the green leaves between the thorns. I stroke his long graceful neck; his smooth chestnut flanks and admire the impossibly long lashes over huge liquid brown eyes. The soft browns and grays that follow the delicate curves of his face. The lovely shape of his ears. The impossibly slender legs. He twists his flexible neck to peer back intently into my face and arches it against me in companionship. His whole being is a thing of grace and function. An exquisite creation. A little three-legged deer who can run like the wind. How can there be anything so lovely on this...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- I went to a meditation retreat recently, seeking the deepest, most effective way to help the animals’ voices be heard, but at first all I could think of was chickens. The food was vegetarian and there were huge bowls of eggs on the side for those who felt they needed more protein. Mounds and mounds of brown and white eggs. For those of us lucky enough to have chickens, and are able to let them run free and be themselves, you know how neat they are. What a sense of comfort, peacefulness and companionship they give us as they race around, Mother Hen scratching with great energy and intensity, digging and catching bugs. The rooster calls excitedly when he finds a...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- They emerge slowly, tentatively– is it time yet? A damp nose. Sleepy little brown eyes. Fuzzy ears. One front leg reaches out of the den entrance. Followed by another. Slowly the front of the body emerges, seeming to expand as it squeezes out the narrow entrance. Half in and half out, the back arches in another streeeeeeetch. Then the back half emerges. Nothing is rushed. Once out, another long, luxurious, stretch. After all, it’s been four months…… (Bears are more like us than we think) They sniff around a bit, not too lively yet. We offer lettuce to ease their fast. They nibble half-heartedly. Their stomachs aren’t quite up to it. We give them...