Tuesday, January 27, 2015

wintertime...and the living ain't easy

Stone fence in snow

I’m not buried in snow, but there’s still plenty of it about on Roundtop Mtn. Roundtop was hit pretty hard by the infamous "Snowtober" in 2011, so I’m not unhappy about missing the worst of the current blizzard that’s burying Boston today.
Even the amount I have on the ground must be hard on the forest residents. Baby Dog and I saw three deer this morning, which prompted me to wonder how and where they sleep in this poor weather. There’s a nice tangle of brush in a low-lying area that offers good screening in summer, but nothing is dense enough there to keep them from becoming snow-covered as they sleep. Perhaps they don’t mind. I know puppies Sparrow and Skye act as though they would be happy to spend hours in the snow, racing back and forth. I can easily imagine they would curl up and sleep in it if they had to.
That said, this weather must still be hard on the wild animals, and not just because it makes finding food more difficult. No place that I can see offers much in the way of protection from the wind, let alone the snow. When the chickens are out, they soon retreat under my raised cabin, where the snow doesn’t reach. Perhaps it is also warmer under there, too, but even that doesn’t provide much protection from the wind.

Everywhere I can see is snow-covered, and the little dips and gullies in my hilly forest don’t look as though one offers any more protection than the next place. All of which makes me glad to be indoors and warm when I sleep. I have winter backpacked when it was -20F, but I was in a tent and a warm sleeping bag, and the wind wasn’t howling, nor was I in a blizzard at the time. Clearly, the forest animals are hardier than I am, though I still can’t help but feel sorry for them living outside in this weather.


Scott said...

Though you're slightly colder and snowier than we are in the eastern Piedmont, Carolyn, southern Pennsylvania is still much milder than much of the area inhabited by some of our forest denizens. I was told that the deer must consider southeastern Pennsylvania the Riviera compared to some of the areas where deer are found.

Of course, having said that, weather-related deer mortality is much higher further north. And, this is not to say that individual animals aren't miserable, even if the species is able to persist through terrible conditions elsewhere.

Each night in the winter, when I prepare to go to bed on really cold and windy nights, I think about the animals outside just before I turn off the light and am thankful I don't have to tolerate what they have to endure for the next ten hours. I wonder how they make it, too, and wish them well.

Bernd Heindrich wrote a really good book called "Nature in Winter" a decade or so ago. Alas, many animals (especially birds) don't make it.

Sharkbytes said...

Glad the blizzard didn't materialize for you. It never seems to me as if there is enough fur on the critters for the really cold temps.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I've ready that book Nature in Winter. It's a good one! I think it's still on one of my bookshelves. Every night when I walk the dogs for the last time before bed, I am glad to think I don't have to sleep out in that cold. Even for the animals, it's a tough time.

Carolyn H said...

Joan: Didn't get the last blizzard. Might get a big storm on Sunday night. I'm just not getting any rest from these snowstorms this year.