This tech CEO blared podcasts to defend his beloved peach tree from a bear that kept trying to steal his fruit
- Rob Dubbin, CEO of Scripto.computer, had been peacefully enjoying the yield from the peach tree in his backyard when he noticed some unwelcome visitors.
- Bears had figured out how to get into the fence he built around the tree, and were wastefully eating peaches without even finishing them.
- After hearing that bears are scared of human voices, his solution was to blare podcasts through a speaker to ward them off.
What lengths would you go to in order to protect the things you care about?
That's a question Rob Dubbin, CEO of Scripto.computer, had to ask himself when he realized his beloved peach tree, named Belvis, was being threatened by hungry bears.
In a Twitter thread, Dubbin explained how he first came to notice the peach tree on his property, how he and his partner enjoyed and utilized the yield from Belvis, and how it all came so close to crashing down.
Clearly, this wasn't a proper defense against the forces of nature, so Dubbin took it upon himself to create a proper fence.
Everything was going fine, you could even say peachy, as the two made pies and harvested hundreds of fruits. There were no bears in sight.
Then, out of nowhere, a challenger appeared.
Dubbin had to think fast. Research told him that human voices might scare the bears off, but music might not do the trick.
Before he could come up with a solution, the bear came back - and it couldn't figure out how to get out of the fence. It was wastefully eating peaches without finishing them before it finally escaped its confinement and sprinted off to pillage another day.
Dubbin rigged up an old iPhone, loaded it with 100 episodes of the Reply All podcast, hooked it up to a large speaker and battery, and put it under the tree.All he could do after that was wait.
Somehow, it worked - the bears apparently couldn't stand the sound of endless podcasts. They still haven't returned, and the remaining peaches have stayed unharmed. Belvis will live to see another day.
However, this effective defense came with a cost. It apparently began to spook Dubbin's neighbors out, as they wondered why they were hearing strange voices all throughout the night, which he had to eventually explain.
It wasn't long before the Reply All producers caught wind of how their podcast was being used - and they appeared to approve.
Wanting to hear what the latest in the peach tree saga was, Business Insider called up Dubbin to talk about his experience, and what he took away from it.
"It brought me so much joy to see the joy that it was bringing other people," Dubbin said, regarding the reactions on Twitter. "I think that kind of joy is like the true essence of peaches."
Dubbin said he wasn't even sure that playing podcasts would be effective, or why conversations were said to be more effective at repelling bears than just music. "Honestly it had just been an inkling," he said. "And then we saw this bear and it became so real that I felt like I had to do everything in my power, sort of just grab at the best theory I had. It felt like one of those split-second decisions on the bridge in Star Trek."
Dubbin expected the bear to simply wait until it was dark out to return, but he was wrong."I thought it would avoid the daylight, but it didn't," he said. "I thought I had all day until it would come back at night under the cover of darkness, but it was more brazen than that. And it forced my hand."
Perhaps the most insulting part of the ordeal was the bear's wastefulness with the peaches - not even bothering to finish one before moving on to the next one.
"I was gonna say it felt like wasting a natural resource, but because it's a bear, I feel like it's hard to hold a bear to that standard," Dubbin said. "Having enjoyed a full peach harvest last year, I was very conscious of the fact that we were able to make use of all the fruit, and in a lot of very delicious and nourishing ways. And for me, seeing the peaches unused on the ground was really a symbol of lost potential."
Dubbin said his neighbors were very understanding after he explained why they were hearing voices at night, and he appreciates them "bearing with him" (pun likely not intended).
Although it's only been a few days, and the peach harvesting has just begun, Dubbin has high hopes for Belvis and its podcast-blaring sound barrier. He hasn't seen a bear return since setting the system up.
"We've taken six (peaches) off, so the harvest is just beginning," he said. "And honestly one of the things that brings the harvest along is a nice sunny day, and there's a nice sunny day here today, so I'm optimistic."
So, if you're having bear troubles, take note from Dubbin - podcasts are your friend.
We didn't know about the peach tree when we bought the house. This is how it looked when someone pointed it out to us. Note the cartoonishly ineffective fence - we were advised to build a better one, or deer and bears would eat all the peaches before we could. Not on my watch. pic.twitter.com/vt6xeJ8tOQ- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
So my deeply human instinct to compete with nature kicked in and I built this big octagonal fence around Belvis. Big for me anyway, as it was my first fence. Here's me last year admiring my work, plus a photo of this fence totally owning some of 2017's hungriest deer. pic.twitter.com/RJG6ab4yqS- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
I cannot overstate how well this worked. All the peaches ripened on the tree, and for two weeks we ate around 200 total. Here's a pie @sealln made and a shot of the last batch I pulled off the tree before the frost. It was the best. I remember saying "haha eat shit bears!" pic.twitter.com/CYJRGrkKYc- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
Sorry, no photos of the bear scat, though the image is forever seared onto my memory. I'm no park ranger but it wasn't hard to see this scat was 95% semi-digested peach matter. Then, looking closer, I saw the pits.- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
There was nothing I wouldn't do to defend Belvis. I researched how to discourage bears, and the thing that kept coming up was they don't like the sound of human voices. There was research suggesting that it had to be conversational, because they'd "figure out music eventually."- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
So yeah, we had a problem. This rather small, still very much growing bear would soon return if we didn't do anything about it. I decided then and there: I would build a battery-powered machine to play podcasts at the bear until the peaches ripened. pic.twitter.com/F8fNfPw5Ky- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
Ultimately I settled on @ReplyAll because I figured even the most starving bear would quail at the haunting sound of @PJVogt's laughter. I loaded up an old iPhone with 100 episodes and hooked it up to a speaker and a heavy-duty telescope battery, underneath a waterproof hood. pic.twitter.com/XCLBtMxWvi- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 21, 2018
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Heavy rain last night, the first real test of my waterproofing system. The Belvis Defense Grid greeted me with @AGoldmund's classic YikYak episode, unfazed by storm or beast. All peaches accounted for, no scat observed. pic.twitter.com/UfWUlZDKa3- Rob Dubbin (@robdubbin) August 22, 2018
I guess this significantly complicates the next episode we were working on, which was just two hours of us saying "come here, bears, there are some nice ripe peaches for you."- Alex Goldman (@AGoldmund) August 21, 2018