Deer trails, like delicate ribbons, hold this wintery image gently together

Deer trails, like delicate ribbons, hold this wintry image gently together

After such a long, cold winter you might think we’d be treated to some nicer weather by the first week of March. It’s hard to think of a gentle little lamb having to spend any time out in this weather, and for now we’re still dealing with winter’s lion. Every icy, snowy week is just like the one before it. The signs of spring seem to be on hold in the deep freeze.

I have noticed some color change in the bright red crown of the red-bellied woodpeckers. Their red heads seem to be even brighter than they were just a few weeks ago. They have become much more territorial lately and I’ve heard a little hammering on dead trees as well. They are ready to start their courtship as soon as it warms up just a bit, but as long as it’s so cold, these fancy woodpeckers must spend most of their time searching for food.

A feral cat patiently waits for its evening meal to crawl out of the tall grass

A feral cat patiently waits for its evening meal to crawl out of the tall grass

Monday morning, while on my short drive up the river road to La Farge, I spotted a gray, feral cat that was intently waiting for a mouse or vole to appear from the snow-covered grass around him. It’s a tough way to make a living, but the cat seemed up to the task. Then I think of my roommate and best friend, See-ay-tee, probably curled up and sound asleep on his favorite wool blanket on the bed. Sure enough that’s just where I found him when I got home, curled up, asleep in a calm pool of sunshine from the tall window.

Okay, what's another four inches?

Okay, what’s another two inches?

Another two inches of snow came in the night, enough to cover most of the tracks on the winter landscape. The deer are managing so far; most of the adult does look healthy and fit. I’ve noticed that some of the yearlings are starting to look a little on the thin side, especially one little lass that is only about half as big as the others. Only time will tell the outcome for the deer. It all depends on when that lion leaves and the lamb finally enters nature’s stage.

Normally shy, this white-breasted nuthatch allows me a close-up snapshot

Normally shy, this white-breasted nuthatch allows me a close-up snapshot

The sweet little white-breasted nuthatches are always busy around the bird feeders. They aren’t as bold as the chickadees, but they have gotten used to seeing me around. One nuthatch doesn’t mind me standing in the window while he is only a couple of feet away. It’s an extra treat to watch him so close up—a chance to see how beautifully delicate and fragile is this little bird.

It’s only been a couple of days since the last snowfall, and already the deer trails are stark in the sunlight. It’s easy to see where they have come down out of the woods, their tracks leading across a pasture and into a picked cornfield. Each night they punch down through the deep snow searching for kernels of corn. A wooly looking donkey has spent the winter in the pasture with a couple of horses. They all look well fed and happy. Their coats grow long to keep them warm. Farm animals can be amazingly resilient in winter weather as long as they have plenty of food and water.

Speaking of plenty of water, yet another four and a half inches of snow came while I was sleeping Tuesday night. We have about two feet on the ground now and the piles of snow that I’ve shoveled at the base of my driveway look like miniature mountains. It’s finally supposed to warm up by the weekend, enough to melt some of the white stuff. Could be trouble if it melts too fast and it all runs off toward the river. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for a gradual thaw.

Naturally yours,

Dan