Our Story Begins
The following is an account of twenty-three legends that assembled at a campground in the Beara Peninsula of County Kerry, Ireland, in the first weekend of July 2021. This is the story of the first Béara Clann camp trip.
Our story begins on Thursday, the first of July. Kingdom Bear and his wife, Kerry Moma Bear, arrived at the campground to claim our corner of the camp. Kingdom Bear, an avid camper, is also a veteran of the printing industry. He brought with him a few surprises he’d made for the group, including a Béara Clann banner and flag. With banner and flag in place, Kingdom Bear was ready to welcome the other members they arrived.
Béara Clann Assemble
Friday morning, members of the Béara Clann, the Irish Unbearables, began their journey from all corners of Ireland to the campground in County Kerry. By the afternoon, most of the group had made their appearance.
Upon arriving, the Clansfolk were warmly greeted by the Béara banner and flag marking our little settlement. There, we found a fire pit surrounded by tents on all sides. Next to that, a small building for shelter from rain.
Kingdom Bear and Óbéara Bear welcomed the Friday arrivals with smiles and open arms. Everyone joined in to help each other build their tents. After setting up and a quick trip to a nearby village to stock up on food and supplies, everyone was settled in for the evening.
It was like old friends having a reunion, though this was the first time many of us were meeting in the real physical world that exists beyond the borders of the digital realm. Handshakes, hugs, smiles and stories being shared were in abundance.
It was time to build a fire before nightfall. A few bears spotted a huge broken tree limb and with teamwork, removed it from the tree with bare hands. Then they began to break it down to smaller pieces using various saws and axes. Everyone participated in a group effort. As one got tired, another bear stepped up and continued the sawing. This was also a great opportunity to teach the younger generation how to chop wood. The Paddy Glassman Bear instructed Green Bear’s sons, Strummer Bear and Pickle Bear, how to chop up some firewood.
The positive vibes continued into the evening hours, as members gathered round the fire to tell stories, crack jokes and share their various interesting theories about this realm we call Earth.
The Fellowship of the Clann
Saturday morning saw the arrival of several more members, completing our gathering of these Irish Beartarians.
That afternoon, several members embarked on a journey to hike to a hilltop where an ancient stone circle stands. The group admired the elevated view while contemplating what the ancient people of this land had known to construct such a site. After visiting this ancient place, some of the braver ones took a dip in the chilly waters of a nearby lake.
Once everyone was back at camp, the Béara Clann’s Minister of Enthusiasm, Brayvy Bear, presented each of the children in the group with a gift bag. The amazing Kingdom Bear and Kerry Moma Bear put together these lovely gift bags that included things like crayons, coloring book, bubbles and toys. The Béara Clann children were most pleased.
It was steadily raining that evening, so we all gathered under that nearby shelter for a dinnertime BBQ. Spirits were high as we shared stories and crafted jokes. There was an abundance of good cheer.
After dinner, Brayvy Bear presented all of the adults with a souvenir Béara Clann mug that he and Kingdom Bear had made for the group members. To mark the occasion, Brayvy Bear also presented to the group a bottle of locally crafted Beara Irish Whiskey, pouring a little into each mug and proposing a toast to the Clann.
The “craic”, as the Irish call it (stories, jokes and laughs), continued into the late night hours.
Making Our Own
Sunday morning, the group screen printed t-shirts with the Béara Clann logo. Each member had brought with them the shirts they wanted printed. Kingdom Bear set up a station in the shelter area to do the printing. As mentioned earlier, he’s a veteran of the printing industry, so he volunteered to man the screen printing station. Brayvy Bear, always eager to help, stepped up to assist him. The end result was beautiful, each member going home with a freshly printed Béara souvenir t-shirt.
After printing t-shirts, Poppa J Bear hosted a livestream for Instagram. The stream included a tour of the camp site and short interviews with several of the folk. It was a great way to capture and showcase the energy of the trip.
Next, everyone gathered in front of the shelter for a group photo. ConspiraBee Bear, an avid photographer who had been photographing the entire weekend of events captured the group photo of us.
Some members packed up to head home after the group photo. The remaining members embarked on an expedition to see a famous secluded waterfall and lake not far from where we were situated.
The scenery at this location was epic, like something you would see on a postcard. Passing through fields of sheep, you encounter the waterfall. After a few photos were taken there, we proceeded to trek up the steep trail towards the lake. At the lake, several in the party decided to again take a dip in the water. The Buzz Wrecker Bear, Rua Bear, The Paddy Glassman Bear, Eire Bear and Defender Bear’s girlfriend all went for a swim, those brave souls.
Once back at camp, the men set up a friendly axe throwing competition. Logs were stacked for a target and the each man took turns throwing the axe. Much fun was had, so much so that axe throwing will be a featured event at all future camp trips.
Onward to Béara!
That night, as the rain had ended, we all gathered round the fire again. Future plans were discussed, including another camping trip, as well as the proposed formation of the Beartarian Horticultural Society.
The common thread that tied this weekend camp trip together was teamwork and community building. Each member of the Clann lending a hand to help another.
It was so good to see everyone get along so well, to see our children playing together in nature. To watch the initially hesitant and wary wives and girlfriends go from polite conversation to genuine warmth and good natured joking, now eager to be a part of this wonderful group. This is what community building is all about.
The friendships formed, friendships reinforced and memories made at this July camp trip will last a lifetime. We, the Béara Clann of Irish Unbearables, are a young group, still growing and learning as we go, yet we show much promise of big things to come in the future!
On Monday morning, it was decided that we would all meet here again for the second weekend of August.
To be continued…
An Ozark Thanksgiving
We need each other, and we want to help each other because we’ve all committed to seeing this thing through, building an alternative community to the one of indentured servitude that we’ve been sold our entire lives. We have another important, foundational similarity that gives me chills. If you ask most Bears why they moved to the Ozarks, they’ll tell you that, like us, God called them here.
By: Melissa Bunfill (@melissabeth on BTA)
In the third week of November 2021, sixty Bears and Cubs gathered together to celebrate the 1st Annual Ozark Bears Thanksgiving. After moving to the Ozarks only six months prior, our families were astounded that we were able to make so many friends in such a short amount of time. Our community here is incredible. I really believe that what we have created here is what Owen was dreaming of when he first came up with the concept of Beartaria. But I can’t begin to tell you about our community without first telling you how we got here.
2020 was an eye-opening year for everyone. We were blessed to already be doing small-scale homesteading on our almost 1.5 acres in the Northern California foothills. We already homeschooled our kids, ate real nourishing food, and avoided medical interventions. Through the experience of the cooties’ insanity, we began listening to the Big Bear’s streams. We became convinced that usury was a sin and became determined to get out of debt. At the same time, my husband unexpectedly quit his job of 14 years. He decided to take a month off to decompress and reassess. During that glorious time with him at home, we realized that we longed for him to be home more to help raise our young sons.
We dreamed of a life where he could work part-time. A life where I could bring him a sandwich as he worked on pasture fences or fixed sprinklers, and we could have un-rushed lunches together. We realized that these dreams were not possible in our “dream house” on the big hill, with the big mortgage to match. If we wanted him to be around more often, instead of working sixty hours a week to afford our fancy-pants life, we needed to move.
In the time between, he quit his job and he sold our house a few months later, God burned many bridges for us that made it easier for us to move. We’re thankful now for the painful lessons that made it clear that it was time to leave California and start a new life. Our house sold on the first weekend. We sold the majority of our belongings and loaded our family of five into our 5th wheel trailer. We had no jobs lined up and no home to move to. We set out with blind faith in the fact that God was speaking to us loudly, and we could not ignore it.
Over the next four months, we traveled to fourteen states. After spending six weeks in Arkansas, the state my husband thought he might like to call home, we headed north into Missouri. As we crossed the border, I sighed deeply. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could breathe. Missouri just FELT good. We had plans to meet family in Yellowstone and reluctantly left Missouri. Leaving Missouri, however, cemented the fact that it was the place for us. We all longed to return. At a miserable RV park in South Dakota, I told my husband that I just wanted to go home. “Where is home?” he asked. “Missouri,” I replied without hesitation.
After our visit to Yellowstone, we were so excited to finally be on our way home. We had connected with some Bears on the Missouri page of the Beartaria Times App who were hosting a meetup at their house on Memorial Day weekend. God tested our resolve, and in Colorado, our truck broke down, threatening our ability to make it to the meetup. However, two weeks and $10K later, we were back on the road with only three days left until the meetup. We made it to Salem, MO, and were greeted by ELOV8 Bear on his 140-acre homestead deep in an Ozark holler. On soft, rolling hills so lush that we could have been hundreds of miles into some jungle, we were welcomed with open arms as we met old friends for the first time.
All the men who would go on to form Ozark Legacy Contracting just five months later, my husband Bill, Mr.PermieBear, TylerBear, and GunniteBear, were all at that first meetup. It was a dream to have moved 2,000 miles across the country, knowing no one, yet walking into a ready-made community of based Bears.
By November of that year, we’d spent countless hours getting together with our Ozark Bear community nearly weekly, having workdays on each other’s newly acquired, rundown farms. Having homeschool play days, sharing dinners together, welcoming babies, and trying to grow into a real, functioning community. It’s not hard to see why the legend of the Missouri Bear community has spread throughout the realm. Most Bears moved here, like us, without family, and following blind faith, knowing no one. To assimilate into a completely new culture, as well as navigate basic necessities such as where to source nourishing food to feed our growing families. We had to lean on and learn from each other. I’ll also put this next part bluntly for those Bears considering a move here. Living in the Ozarks is hard. There is no Costco, Target, or Home Depot. There are no shopping malls or movie theaters. There are no hipster coffee shops, and there are no Whole Foods. In the only grocery store near us, there is not even an “organic” section in the produce aisle. There are snakes, ticks, chiggers, poison ivy, and the occasional tornado. We’ve all bought farms with nearly falling down houses and multiple junk piles littered around the property, in true Missouri style. To navigate the difficulties of living here alone would be disheartening at best. In short, this community works because we need each other. We need each other, and we want to help each other because we’ve all committed to seeing this thing through, building an alternative community to the one of indentured servitude that we’ve been sold our entire lives. We have another important, foundational similarity that gives me chills. If you ask most Bears why they moved to the Ozarks, they’ll tell you that, like us, God called them here.
As Thanksgiving 2021 approached, we were keenly aware that most of our friends would be celebrating without family. We decided to host a Thanksgiving meetup for the local bears. At the time, we were still living in our 5th wheel, as we were knee-deep in renovating our recently purchased 1938 farmhouse. Seekers of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful arrived bearing mashed potatoes, green beans, loaves of sourdough, pies, and cakes. The fact that our house was halfway demolished inside and that tables and chairs were set up on plywood subfloor under open holes in the ceiling phased no one. Bears are so cool. No one cares about fancies and lollies. They just cared that we were together, sharing stories and encouragement. And that the gravy is ladled generously and served piping hot. As a prayer was said over the meal, bread was broken, and friendships were formed. RedPandaBear organized a group photo in front of our barn, a tradition we repeated this year. It’s a tradition that I hope to continue every year and watch what faces show up year after year and also to see what new faces are added. Over the past year, several Bears have asked if we were going to host Thanksgiving again. My enthusiastic reply assured them that I hope to host every year as a standing event for Bears to count on and look forward to.
This year, I was slightly nervous hosting as our Ozark Bear numbers have grown exponentially. To date, we have around forty-five bear families living within a two-hour radius. With the attention our community has been receiving with the recent festival and purchase of campground land, we decided to invite only local bears via our Telegram chat rather than posting to the Beartaria Times App. We initially hoped to host outside as we were anticipating around 100 people. As often happens when a group of crushers assembles, similar to the weekend of the National Festival, it rained. It hadn’t rained for weeks, yet on the morning of Thanksgiving, the heavens opened, and it poured. We moved couches, rugs, and end tables into bedrooms and set up tables and chairs inside to host the 89 Bears who attended. Honorable mention to BoatShoesBear, who showed up ready to crush and did most of the set-up. Everyone was amenable to the change even though we were all quite cozy packed inside together. It all worked out except for the fact that the mountain of muddy boots by the front door looked like something out of a Spielberg movie. Bear mamas came bearing so much food that we could have fed a group twice our size. There was plenty of wholesome fun had by all. My husband gave tractor rides to the kids, and our builder buddy made an obstacle course for the kids. There were several tug-of-war battles by the cubs as well. Ever since the festival, the kids have been playing tug-of-war whenever they get together to prepare to crush at next year’s festival. Thanks to the rain, we were able to light a giant bonfire in front of the barn to keep everyone warm. We even ended the night with fireworks for the kids. All the mamas pitched in at the end of the day to do dishes, sweep, and clean. Countless Bears thanked us for hosting. A few told us it was the best Thanksgiving they had ever had.
This is a tradition we will continue every year. The bolstering of our spirits and the closeness created by gathering together makes these events worth it. Owen talks about finding what you can do to add value to your community. I can’t fix your kitchen sink or build you a website, but I can bring people together and provide a welcoming, cozy place for people to gather. Gather together, Bears. Gather whether your house is under construction, or you live in a camper or a shophouse, or if your house looks like it belongs in a magazine. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find each other and BUILD. Build communities, build alternatives, build EACH OTHER. This type of event also prompts us to reflect and practice one of the key elements to Bear life– gratitude. We come together and share what we are thankful for. We are thankful for this community that has helped us not only to survive here in the Ozarks but to thrive. We are thankful to the Bears here who have become wonderful friends and supported us to put down roots and build. We are thankful to Owen for catalyzing all of us on paths pursuing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We are thankful, most of all, to God, for showing us the way and for providing abundantly.
Until next year, Ozark Bears, onward to Beartaria!
The Crushing Continues at the Second Annual Midwest Bearfest
Farming Artist was the bear who put this all together. She and her family offered workshops on butchering chickens, making chicken stock, keeping bees, making goat milk soap, and trimming goat hooves, but I’m sure I missed a few.
During the last few days of September, rolling into the first few days of October, our friends, The Jones family, hosted the second annual Midwest Bearfest.
In mid-Michigan lies a small farming town and a family of Crushers willing to have 100 people at their farm. Moonlit Farm has been in the Jones family for five generations and counting.
The event was held from Thursday through Sunday. Farming Artist put this all together. She and her family offered workshops on butchering chickens, making chicken stock, keeping bees, making goat milk soap, and trimming goat hooves, but I’m sure I missed a few.
These fine folks did much prep work to prepare the farm for 100 guests. They prepared part of the farm for camping and had massive piles of rocks and wood for campfires. They also offered food for all four days. Amazingly, this family would allow 100 mostly strangers to their farm, but even more impressive is that they were willing to share five generations of skills with us.
During the days, it was workshops and hay rides. When the sunset on this beautiful farm, it was time for campfires and gravy! There were no less than four fires each night, with different groups enjoying them. People floated back and forth to the fire pits sharing stories, bonding, or simply enjoying old friends for the first time.
This event felt like home to me. The Jones family has always treated me like family. The bear community is the best at making you feel like you belong.
Sunday morning of Midwest Bearfest came with a bit of a surprise. Farming Artist asked me to head a bible study. This request was a bit shocking to me; I’m no pastor. But I mustered up enough courage to do it, and it was actually quite comfortable. The bears volunteered to read passages with me and were very patient with my message. I have never done anything like this. It was humbling, and it strengthened my faith. I’m so glad I was asked to do it.
To the Jones family, we thank you for having us at your home. To the bears, thank you for showing up. As always, we thank our Lord for the opportunities he gives and the love he gives. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend this event and grateful to meet all my old friends for the first time. Keep Krushing bears, Onward!
A look at This Year’s Fourth of July Northeast Crushfest
The event was planned and organized by several families from the northeast region and morphed from the epic party it was last year into a weekend festival of camping, games, education, fellowship, and good food.
This year the annual Northeast Crushfest was held at Bear Crest Farm in western Pennsylvania on the Fourth of July weekend. It sure was a weekend to remember for all those who attended. The event was planned and organized by several families from the northeast region and morphed from the epic party it was last year into a weekend festival of camping, games, education, fellowship, and good food. The first night everyone shared in a grand feast provided by the organizing families.
The campsites, nestled in a newly cleared corner of the property, looked like a wooded wonderland with lights strung through the trees. The hosts even built an outdoor shower for their guests.
There was never a dull moment with acres to explore and open fields to play in. Bears and cubs enjoyed plenty of lawn games and rounds of volleyball throughout the event. There was a giant downhill slip and slide for the kids and many organized games and activities throughout the weekend. The men continued the tradition of a tug-o-war and added kickball to the list of annual competitions. In addition, there were many skill demonstrations, including chicken culling and first aid. Fireside chats were enjoyed by many each evening. This regional festival is sure to continue evolving each year, and we can’t wait to see where these incredible bears take it next year!
We could write a lot more, but these epic video montages filmed and edited by Red Panda Bear speak for themselves!
Photos provided by Camera Bear
Get more information or RSVP for next year at: https://northeastcrushfest.com
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