Monday, November 11, 2013
On the doorstep of winter
November is often a gray and windy month, so the past few days were completely normal ones for this time of year. The raw wind brought down most of the leaves that remained on the trees. Even the old oaks around my cabin are looking pretty bare today.
The sky is now open enough that I shortly after midnight I saw a fireball out the window to the north. It wasn’t the biggest or the brightest fireball I’ve ever seen, but it was still exciting. I believe it made a sound, which is why think I woke up just in time to see it.
The colder weather brought changes around my cabin this weekend. I’ve added extra straw to the chicken pen. The girls are molting this week, so they aren’t laying any eggs. I’m hoping they will finish their molt before I run out of eggs. When they do start laying again, they will do so at their winter level, which means I will only get perhaps half the number of eggs they laid during spring and summer.
Young animals will soon be experiencing their first winter. These summer calves will likely spend much of the winter in their barn. They are still pretty small, and the cold weather will likely be a bit hard on them. The spring calves are larger and at this point every month they are older than the summer calves will make the winter easier on them. A feral cat at Roundtop had a litter of kittens just a week or so ago. It’s hard to imagine any of those will survive the coming cold. It’s not a good time of year for them to be born.
The smaller forest birds are beginning to use my feeders in earnest now. For the past month, I’ve only had to fill the feeders once a week. Now, I have to fill them at least every other day. Come winter, I’ll have to fill the feeders probably twice a day. Now, the titmice, downy woodpecker, nuthatch and chickadees are emptying them pretty fast. The juncos, which are suddenly common around the mountain, haven’t yet visited, nor have the larger residents like the cardinals, the red-bellied woodpecker and blue jays. They are likely to arrive with the first snow or ice storm. And that’s probably not far off, either. Winter is coming, and for the first time, it’s starting to look as though it isn’t far away.