Woodland Walk in Snow

The weather here has been cold and overcast the past few weeks, making me feel trapped in the house. But each time I did venture out to do chicken chores or put feed down for the wildlife, I was quickly ready to come back inside to the warmth! Despite the cold, I still hoped to get out for a quick hike in the woods last week but, after Mother Nature dropped four inches of rain on us, I opted to forego my outing. Our soil contains a lot of clay, and it just is not worth the risk of slipping and falling or trudging around and gathering a thick layer of muck on my boots. Simply carrying my camera under such conditions is an added risk. On more than one occasion, instead of catching myself while sliding down a muddy hill, I have had to sacrifice my body and hold my camera up above me to save it from injury.

Thursday, we awoke to heavy snowfall. Large, wet flakes were already falling at 6:00 a.m. when I made my way out with the dogs for their morning business. There was no wind and the temperatures were right around freezing, so it was actually rather pleasant. Lollipop had never seen snow. As usual, she looked to Oscar to know what to do. While Oscar and Lollipop stuck their faces into the snow and sniffed around, Mr. T took off to the south. I yelled for him to come back but he was on an adventure. Mr. T loves the snow, and wasn’t listening at all. Seeing I was going to have to retrieve Mr. T from the “south forty”, I dashed back in the house for my boots, while keeping an eye out through the windows to watch for predators. If Ms. Foxy or a coyote were lurking nearby, they could make a quick meal of my kids!

Back outside, Lollipop had decided she liked the snow and had taken to leaping like a rabbit around the front yard. Oscar, who is a bit more fussy, remained on the walkway to keep himself clean. And nearly blind Mr. T, was already way out at the garden looking lost. But as I approached him, he ran off again! In my gruffest voice I ordered, “YOU GET BACK HERE!!”, but Mr. T and I play this game all of the time. He gets an ornery look and, as soon as I get close to him, he bolts away – and the game continues.

Oscar is not a big fan of the snow. It’s too messy and wet for his particular taste.
Lollipop wasn’t sure of the snow but, after a while, she decided she liked leaping and hopping around in it!
Mr. T is all hair, and does he ever love a good run in the snow! He also loves to face plow into newly fallen snow.
This photograph was taken after a snow in February 2012 when Mr. T still had good eyesight. Mr. T loves the snow and is quite the trickster about escaping the Mama!

After we finished breakfast and FD went off to work, I knew I had to set off on a hike with my camera in the fresh snow. I cut a hole at the end of a kitchen trash bag and stuffed my zoom lens into it. This would keep moisture from getting on my zoom lens and it would protect my camera. It was not very handy to work with, since the zoom lens telescopes in and out, but it was all I could come up with that I had on hand. With my camera rig taken care of, I donned my warm camouflage pants and jacket and grabbed my ear-flap-cap and a warm pair of camouflage gloves. At the front door, I pulled on my muck boots and headed out. I was ready to see what the morning snow had to offer!

Distant view in the pecan orchard – taken with my iPhone.
View of orchard with iPhone zoomed in. I was standing in the same spot as the photo above. The giant trees created a most beautiful white canopy.

Lumbering through the heavy, wet snow proved difficult and, in the first ten minutes, I exerted way more energy than I had planned on. But as I plodded on, my focus was not on my burning calves and hamstrings, as it was the magnificence of the landscape that stole my attention. When the snow let up a bit, I decided to walk to the west end of the property. Along the way, I never saw any animal tracks, until I got to the fence line where the leased land borders our west end. There, I found deer tracks all around but, as I looked out towards the river, I saw nothing of further interest, hearing only honking geese along the river to the northwest. I quickly dispelled a fleeting thought of chasing the geese, as I was too exhausted to think of hiking further west, and big, heavy flakes of snow were falling once again. With that, I decided to venture back towards home, choosing a route down an animal path that I had followed many times when Daisy deer was a yearling.

I found no tracks along my return path either, but did rediscover beautiful and loving memories of my early days as Daisy’s mother. I walked the familiar hollow along an area I call Turkey Ridge – a region I frequented in spring to photograph turkeys passing through. Then, further ahead, I passed through the “Land of Aliens” where, in spring and summer months, the thistle plants loomed with their pink “alien eyes” waving in the warm winds. Thorny Osage Orange trees grew heavily in this area, and we often found Emma and Ronnie deer bedded down there two years ago. This year, Mama and the triplets found refuge in the Land of Aliens. But today, it was only I who walked along the trail, leaving my own boot tracks behind. I wondered if the wild things that followed after me would sense human scent on the trail and if, perhaps, it would be Emma, or Ronnie, or Daisy deer. And I wondered if they would know the scent was mine…

This wildflower in the yard looked like an eye periscope with very long lashes!
This is the entry of the buggy path down into the woods. Daisy deer used to frequent this path.
This little song sparrow was plucking seeds from a dried plant near the slough.
The slough has more water in it than I’ve ever seen! The normal pathways around the slough are completely covered by  water.
I found many Cardinals, Juncos, and various Sparrows feeding on seeds from plants in the orchard. It makes me happy to see that letting the orchard grow wild this year benefited birds in the winter months.
The coralberry, or Indian currant (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), can be found all over this property and along the river.
My view of the river area and leased land, from the west end of our orchard property. Deer pass through this area nightly.
Large flocks of field birds flew off as I approached. They seemed to be feeding off of some type of seeds on the ground.
The pop of blue color from a lone bluebird could be seen from quite a distance. The orchard was alive with bluebirds this morning.
A hollow to the right of this image (Turkey Ridge) is where I often found Daisy deer after we released her in January of 2012.
One of our new pathways around the slough is now flooded with water. I may not be working on the east side of the slough again for a very long time.

© 2019 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


44 thoughts on “Woodland Walk in Snow

    1. This was written with emotion and it was absolutely beautiful! One of my fellow bloggers shared your site with me and I am so glad she did! I am really looking forward to continuing to read more of your amazing posts! I also LOVED the pictures of your gorgeous fur babies!!! I hope if you have the time you will check out my site. My goal is to spread as much positivity as possible!!!

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      1. Thanks Alyssa. Being positive and spreading it around makes a difference for all of us… I truly believe that! I’ll slip over to check out your blog – maybe one of these blustery, cold, icy days when I’m stuck inside and I can spend a lot of time reading! 🙂

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  1. I had the impression of dark eyelashes, too, probably all the more so because of the contrasting snow. It sure would be pleasant for Austin to have snow scenes like those, even if just for a day.

    What you say about a flooded path matches our experience at a nature preserve yesterday, where the North San Gabriel is still so high that a county road bridge remains completely submerged and a couple of trails I’ve followed along the edge of the river in other years have vanished under the water.

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    1. It’s unusual for us to have this much rain/snow this time of year. Usually, April and May are heavy rain months. I’m a little concerned that the slough is over it’s usual boundaries. We didn’t work fast enough getting downed timber cut and moved out of there this past year. Alas, it is what it is.

      I hope you do get a good snow, Steve. It wouldn’t last long that far south and that would be perfect for a fun day out with the camera. I disliked the snow when I lived up north because it stuck around for many weeks sometimes. It is more of a novelty here – just lasting a couple of days and it’s gone. Totally doable!

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    1. I have older snow photos of cardinals which are just breathtaking. That pop of red on white branches or ice-covered limbs is just spectacular. I did not have the luck of being able to zoom in enough in these photos, but it was lovely to see so many in a grouping, feeding off of the dried, wild plants.

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      1. I really liked those photographs too. They brought to mind My Dear worrying through the window, “I hope the birds find food in the snow.” And then, “Do you think you should get your coat and boots and take the bag of seeds out and fill the birdfeeder?”

        P.S. The bluebird photo. So special. A treat.

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        1. Those bluebirds are plentiful right now and often look wistful looking out from a tree branch… as if they’re awaiting spring just like we humans!

          I am always torn about feeding the birds. We have positioned ours where a raptor would have difficulty swooping down on the smaller birds, but occasionally a smart hawk or owl will snag one. We women tend to wonder about so many things… it’s no wonder your “Dear” worries about the little birds.

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    1. It’s a real pain to deal with clumps of snow attached to the dog’s hair, but I cannot deny them the thrill of running, hopping and face plowing in the snow! Usually, I bring them inside and it melts and I mop it up. I suppose that’s what our mothers did when we were young. Having fun in the snow is a tad messy, but it’s just water!

      I think of you often when I watch birds in the orchard. The winter birds are particularly beautiful this time of year, and the snow allowed for easy spotting – woodpeckers especially!

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  2. I have seen so many orchards in Califonria, but have never seen a pecan orchard. They just were not grown here. English walnuts were common, and are still common in some regions, but there are no pecans.

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    1. Tony, we have walnut trees here too! Most of those are along the old river channel area. The pecans are spectacular any time of year. From what we can tell, our orchard was planted in the 1930’s. There are many different varieties.

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      1. Are the walnuts former orchard trees, or are they a native black walnut? It has been so long that I do not remember if there is a black walnut that is native to the region. I remember that there were two hickories. I heard of a black walnut in Latimer County, but again, I do not know if it was native or exotic. There are black walnuts here that naturalized from understock from old orchards, but they happen to be native to the San Joaquin Valley, so are not too far from their natural range. (Some were planted as street trees on the original highways, and some are still there. Such heavy nuts falling onto fast moving windshields from so high up is not a good thing.) The pecans that I remember in Pecan Valley Junction and Pink were not orchard trees, but were the native pecans.

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        1. Some of the pecan trees are natives, others not. The walnuts are native black. They grow in most wooded areas of the state. Sadly, in many areas, the old, large walnut trees have been cut down by poachers for their beautiful wood grain.

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          1. Those that were planted specifically for nuts are likely improved cultivars. I think that those that I could get here from mail order catalogs are developed from trees in the Ohio River Valley, but are still of the same species. I probably only missed the black walnut because there were none within direct proximity to where we were staying in Pecan Valley Junction. I will need to watch for them when I go back.

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  3. I’m jealous 😀. Longing for some real winter weather here. It’s too warm (6-10 C) and grey. Apparently, in the Paris area we’ve had 30 mins of sunshine since the 25th!
    Great photos as always and such wonderfully colorful birds xxx.

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    1. I can’t believe you haven’t had winter yet! I wish I could share ours… we’ve had some ice, rain and snow which makes a lot of MUD. Ha ha! I think spring will come early though. I’m already seeing signs of birds returning and the trees are beginning to bud. I hope you get a little winter weather soon! xoxo

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    1. That is a spot on observation! One I hadn’t thought much about. This day it was the lure of the beautiful snow that got me going… and thankfully, I do have some very warm camouflage that I wear for winter photography. Sometimes it gets a little too warm if I’m hiking to the river!

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  4. It looks so wonderfully silent – except for the real sound of life and winter.
    I’m jealous, too! (close to 70 now…but if it gets cooler – I know it will rain Arrrrrgh)
    (And the fluffily pups – they look like fuzzy slippers from college days. SO cute! Whew – drying them inside must take some effort!)

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    1. Yes, those furry kids come in with clumps and balls of snow hanging from all of that hair! Impossible to get it out before coming indoors. I just let it melt and then I mop floors. It’s forced house cleaning! Ha ha!

      This is the rainiest winter ever! The slough is well out of it’s boundary and though it means we cannot get on the east side for many months, I am happy that it is already attracting water birds. The slough was so beautiful that day… ice was beginning to form on the top. I hope this spring we see Momanem (Mama doe and her triplets) scampering and playing in the water like Emma and Ronnie used to do!

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    1. Yes, it’s a little reminder of childhood fun in the snow. Here though, I love a good snow because it melts a day or two later! None of that ongoing muck, slop and extreme cold!

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  5. Hi Lori, I am rather glad I am viewing your snowy photos from the warmth of an Australian summer. It is interesting that birds can still find seed to eat from vegetation poking through the snow.
    My niece who is currently living in Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies has been shoveling snow in the past few days.

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    1. Are you talking about Lake Louise in Banff National Park? If so, I can imagine she is doing a lot of shoveling! What a beautiful place to live. Snow is a novelty here and it only lasts a few days before it melts away in our warmer winter conditions. Yes, the birds are really feasting on weed seeds. Even the weeds along the fence lines in our yard provide winter feed for birds. It’s nice to know those weeds provide food for wildlife in the winter months, and they can be quite beautiful in their dried state.

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  6. LOL! Buddy does that exact same thing, though usually on the north side… snow or no snow!
    I don’t get the joy often enough here of walking in the snow. But when I do it is the most amazing journey. Life slows down and the layer of white deadens all the outside noise. To use an old line from Simon and Garfunkle: “It is the sound of silence”. The happy side of this phrase… of course. 🙂

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  7. Hope you guys are all snug and warm there – what a brrrr winter (raining again…the dog is about to go into suspended animation)
    One weather data guy said with such a strong Polar Vortex winter, we tend to have fewer Spring tornadoes – that would be an OK trade-off for me

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    1. It’s been a cold and blustery winter here, but all I have to do is check in with family up in Nebraska and I’m thankful it isn’t worse here! I hope that “fewer” tornadoes are the trade-off this year. You just never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve!

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