That’s me, several weeks ago, when I could still walk through what is commonly known as Penny’s Arbor House; hours before another foot or so of snow barged in on the tails of winds and sub-zero temperatures. I’m wearing my decade’s old wool coat. It gives neighbors and passers-by the ominous impression of a hooded crone wandering the Cutoff woods scavenging eyes of newt sorts of things. My old coat keeps me warm, however, and serves as padded protection should I slip and land on my sit-upon – all of which is not why I posted the picture of yours truly.
What I really wanted to talk to you about is establishing a Wildlife Habitat, which I’ve written about many times throughout the past year, especially in a July post HERE, if you should want more information, or, just need to see the Cutoff when the sun was out and the flowers were blooming.
A Wildlife Habitat is just as important an element in February as it is in July, no matter how big or small, no matter if winter where you live is in January or June. While the gardens and trees and all vegetation sleep here come winter, many animals and birds that winter over do not. They are adapted for cold climates, but, winters such as this one, can be hard on them, with food scarce and shelter harder to find. Established wildlife areas help them to fend through the hard, dark months of winter.
The birdbaths we leave out for winter have sported muffin tops of snow most of this season. We often see scattered on top of the mounds little lace snow prints of wintering birds who have come for a sip. Just as often, we’ve seen big chunks bitten out of them, most likely deer or squirrels, getting water from nature’s snowcones.
Smaller animals nestle under the pile of brush and twigs we leave in our designated habitat, which gives them shelter from the storms. It also, often dramatically, provides a spot for hawks to keep a keen eye on. The other day, Tom saw a hawk swoop out right in front of the second story windows where his office is above the barn, grabbing some lunch from below on his way to a barren tree.
Most recently, as the sun is coming up, I’ve noticed several deer resting on the edge of the grassy knoll/prairie/native garden, where our Wildlife Habitat sign is stationed. Just beyond this is a large composting area. It as a haphazard affair, with undefined boundaries. On it go the leaves of autumn, holiday garlands and wreaths, wilted bouquets, food items and coffee grounds we compost from the kitchen as well as plant material from the gardens. We dig and turn the piles, of course, but often, especially in winter, scraps and peels and such are just tossed on top of the near frozen mass. We know they will eventually decompose . . .
. . . and that some hungry sojourners may nosh through the piles during lean months of winter. When the deer dig down deep, one can see the steam rising from below, where Mother Nature is brewing some leaf mold stew, nourishment for our herd, many of which are heavy with child.
How about it, my friend? Have you given any more thought to establishing a Wildlife Habitat?