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.
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!
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…
© 2019 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…