WHAT'S NEW AT THE FARM?
With the warmer weather and longer days the skunks are coming out. Seems like February and March are prime mating times for skunks although I doubt he was looking for a mate next to my henhouse. He did however find one of our dogs, Maisy, and now she can't figure out why no one wants to be near her. A trip to the dog groomer will take care of this small but very obvious problem. At least it wasn't a porcupine; looking for a vet at eleven o'clock on Sunday evening would not only have been nearly impossible but expensive as well. Seems all these incidents happen at odd times of the day. We had a pony once that came too close to a porcupine and required a vet – of course it was Sunday morning.
For the time being we are having seasonable temperatures. Thirties during the day and teens and twenties at night. Seems warm after those -25 degrees mornings. Looks like we might see some snow before the week's out. OK, just as long as it doesn't last long. Even though we're still in the throes of winter, I can see spring coming – a month from now ice fishing will be all but over and the birds will be coming back once again.
I am in the process of building new birdhouses. Quite a few years back I built around 20 or 25 houses for Johnny's farm. Several of these get replaced this year and I'll put some new ones up too. We have loads of barn and tree swallows of which the tree swallows readily nest in the bird houses we put out. I think we have around thirty houses out and we'll install another ten or fifteen and replace some of the older ones. I'd say 98% of all the houses are filled every year with swallows and the occasional bluebird, although they're a rarity.
Lots of deer sign this winter, as the deer move in search of food. I saw two deer last week in a neighboring town – one was watching me and all you could see of the other one was his hind-end as he dug in two feet of snow looking for food. This is a good reminder to plant some deer forage for them next fall. The turnips I planted last fall have fed the deer locally and naturally in at least three different locations this winter. Next year I plan on seeding turnips closer to midsummer than early fall. I was thinking I would create a mix of brassicas that deer like and plant them in a few selected spots to determine if they preferred a mix over straight turnips.
This has been more of a typical Maine winter than what I remember over the past few years: An adequate amount of snow, cold temps but not extended cold spells, and relatively dry. No precipitation in the past two weeks – but I hear that may change. The rain last week certainly dropped the level of snow we had. I actually saw bare ground in a few places. There seems to be lots of cloudy days now but at least it's not cold. The wood piles' taken a beating this year but it pretty much does so every year. For next year, my wood has been cut and split and is now waiting to be stacked. No more splitting wood in July for me!