It has been fairly quiet on our ten-acre property for the last couple of weeks. Every few days the sky dumps a little more snow on the landscape. Snow blankets the town, keeping noise down. Puffs of steam curl from chimneys and rooftop vents. A few crows fly high above, quietly making their way into the woods. Perhaps they are saving their usual cacophony for warmer days when being social is more enjoyable. Schools are closed. It has been too bitter cold for children to venture outside. Buses are useless, their diesel engines refuse to start. The only noise heard is that of occasional crunching from vehicle tires, as a few people venture slowly down the snow-packed streets.
My own snow boots leave defined treads in the snow, making a zigzag design of foot-patterned paths to the bird feeders, storage building, well house, down into the canyon to the wildlife feeders and back up to the house. Later in the afternoon, I leave yet another set of my boot tracks as I meander down the snow-covered lane to the mailbox at the street. Have you ever pondered a description of the sound of rubber boots meeting snow? We tend to take the easy road and just call it a “crunch”, but to me, a crunch bears more of a snap or crackling sound. As I walk around doing my chores, I wonder about the description of the sound of walking on snow. Is pressure or maybe compression a better word? Weight compressing rubber on frozen powder, creating a tight-fitting, rubbing or flexing groan. Nothing I could come up with sounded quite right. But definitely, “crunch”, all by itself, does not provide an appropriate description of the sound.
One thing had quickly become apparent, though – no longer could FD or I “crunch” down the slope to the canyon below, or climb back up, for that matter. It was just too treacherous. The layers of snow and ice had created an unsafe surface. I could either walk to the north property line and use the rickety wire fence as a guide and hand-hold to keep from slipping, or I could open the storage building and fetch the Bad Boy Buggy to traverse the path to the woodland bottom where the wildlife feeders and water were. Unfortunately, both options meant spending far too much time out in the bitter elements. But I had to see that Daisy had nourishment and water. And, I had not seen her in a few days. I was lonesome for my girl.
Since last week, FD had been struggling with a terrible earache. By Monday, he was finding the pain completely unbearable, which meant canceling a week-long business trip to sunny Florida. Sure enough, after seeing the local doctor, he was diagnosed with a bad ear infection. So much for plans of my own “vacation” of sorts. When FD is gone on business trips, I take my own vacation – a week away from cooking and cleaning. I enjoy my time at the computer, blogging or basking in quiet time while working on my book. I have no schedule. I eat when I want, venture out to photograph when I want, and I stay up late and sleep in if I please. Monday put the skids on my carefree plans. Instead, I would be pampering FD, making him comfortable, and cooking nutritious meals to help him recuperate.
At least I did get to sleep in a bit Tuesday morning. Neither FD nor I had gotten any sleep the previous four nights with him in pain, tossing and turning. He had risen early, but left me to sleep in late. I think he felt just as bad for me as for himself. I finally managed to get up around 7:30, but soon had to hit the ground running, knowing he needed breakfast so that he could take his medication with food. Just as I was doing the prep work to get omelets going, FD announced that Daisy and Spirit were down below the slope at the feeder, with several other deer!
I can tell you, breakfast was the last thing on my mind at that point. I untied and discarded my apron on the island where I had been cutting vegetables. I grabbed my insulated camo jacket and ear-flap cap. My boots never went on so fast, and I quickly checked the camera to make sure I had a card and plenty of battery power. Out the door I went, staying quietly on the back porch of course. With so many deer down below, I knew most of them would be spooked if I ventured out too far. Only Daisy and Spirit, and Scarlet and her twins would not be bothered by me.
With the morning sky being overcast and it still a bit dark in the woods, I knew I would have to keep still to get decent photographs of the group. Low light and bitter cold temperatures are not a good mix for digital cameras. I managed a few decent group shots, showing movement as a couple of the more skittish does moved back into our woods.
I was surprised when Daisy and Spirit came up top to the back porch area. I put my camera down and quickly scooped up a bucket of Daisy’s favorite fruity kibbles, and a couple of scoops of corn. Her coat had been wet and at some point it had frozen as well. The hair at the top of her head was crunchy, and a green glob of mucous hung at the base of her left eye. As any good mother would do, I wiped it away, which annoyed her. Looking at Spirit, I saw a similar gathering of mucous at her left eye as well. This worried me of course, thinking they both had colds in their eyes. I snapped a few photos of the girls before Daisy took off to the bottom, and Spirit eventually joined her after hoofing around for some greens under the snow.
With Daisy and Spirit returning to the feeders, activity resumed in the canyon. Apparently Daisy was “large and in charge” that morning as Scarlet’s doe fawn was vying for corn time under the feeder. But Daisy was having none of that. She vehemently chased Scarlet’s fawn, hoofing at it all the way to the burn pile, but it did not seem deterred. Back it came… and Daisy obliged it with a quick, but ferocious trip down memory lane. Spirit finally ambled up to the feeder, feeling certain her mother had taken care of the scuffle over corn. As Spirit settled to feeding under Daisy, this morning’s Matron of the Corn, the other deer ventured off peacefully into the woods. I was glad to see them moving to the south and west, further into our woods. I like to think they find safety and shelter in our woods, rather than venturing off to the more wide open pecan orchard or even further to the river.
Eventually, Daisy and Spirit moved on in the same direction as the rest of the herd. I longed to follow, but it was too cold, and I had breakfast to get back to at the house. I kept an eye out back all day but I never saw them return. I imagine in these bitter temperatures and wind chills, the deer tend to lay low, conserving energy.
And, isn’t that what many of us are doing these long winter days? We accomplish the tasks that need doing, and then we work on projects that allow us to be indoors more. We seek the comforts and coziness of being in the warmth of our homes. I, myself, am enjoying “laying low” like the deer during this cold spell. I spend a little more time on the computer than I normally would and admit I have even taken to spending far too much time on those horrible, time-eating Pinterest boards. I have finished reading a couple of good books. And, I have had time to research new recipes. Since FD has been home recuperating this week I have been indulging in a little more television too. Even the dogs are enjoying my more relaxed pace. They have been getting regular body massages in the evenings – in fact, Bear has begun staring into my eyes demanding his massage time each evening after dinner dishes are done and put away!
Generally, we tend to gripe and complain about the winter weather – but it is precisely what we need in the yin and yang of life. The ebb and pull of one season into the next. I will be happy when spring shows signs of emerging. But until then, I will bask in the beauty of winter and the delight of being able to lay low for a while, hibernating and enjoying my creature comforts!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…