The middle of December and it's looking a lot like winter around here. Fresh snow covers up more of the fall landscape leaving us to plan for next year and reflect on this past season. Otherwise known as what worked and what didn't.
The deer fence worked; haven't seen a deer track on the farm for over a year now. There are lots of them around the farm, on the outsides of the fences, checking to see if we ever leave a gate open. Looking at those white humps out in the field, knowing they're pumpkins covered in snow. Each snow storm gives us an opportunity to observe all the deer tracks in the parking lots; I do believe they come nightly to check things out. At least three of the neighbors feed them during the winter so there are plenty of them around. There's a lot of controversy about feeding deer commercially prepared grain but I don't see any reason not to feed them with special plantings of crops they like.
Like turnips. And beets. And oats as well. I'm thinking of perhaps a mixture of these three; planted in mid-summer and allowed to grow undisturbed through the fall would provide nutritious and tasty grazing throughout the winter. I have a friend whom plants deer pasture mixes solely to watch the deer; perhaps I can interest him in my plan. I also have a couple of fields that we could use just for feeding them that would work. I had a new field this year that I wanted to plant for the deer, but it was so wet I couldn't get onto the ground until well into September. Hope they like winter rye.
In my own garden I planted some extra room to sunflowers. I left them there until about two weeks ago, once the birds and squirrels were done with them. I was going to leave them standing all winter, but they look terrible; like an untended garden looks. One trip over them with the four wheeler took care of them. The mice can have any seed left in the heads through the winter. The bobcats, hawks and owls can eat the mice and so on down the road.............
We're had all three predators hanging out around the bird feeders at various times throughout the winter. Owls are the most frequent visitors although hawks are fairly common feeding on the many sparrows that hang around the barns. Owls sit in the big maple tree over the bird feeders and occasionally drop down on the unsuspecting mouse. Bobcats are somewhat rarer but once in a while we catch them by surprise as they scope out what's hanging around the bird feeders. We see most of these predators when the snow is deep or of we have ice on top of deep snow. There's lots of interest in mice and squirrels in the winter.
And finally, speaking of squirrels, something was making a ruckus in the kitchen the other night. Peg asked what all the commotion was, and in my usual laid back mannerism, I told her there was a flying squirrel on the window sill. Yes, inside of course. Peg and I, two cats and two dogs trying to get a somewhat terrified squirrel out the door. We must have gotten him out as we haven't seen any evidence of his being in the house since. Never a dull moment.
Until next week, Brian