I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Signs of spring.....

March 26. The snow is melting, tulip nubs are poking up,

and the deer are starting to migrate back up the hill from their winter yard. Their pointy tracks were all over the road on the hill this morning.

This coming week starts off with a couple of cold (-15C, 5F) nights, then the temperature appears to be on an upward swing, and in the following week, the temps are only just below freezing at night! I don't know what to think. The snow has been melting quickly, and the garden beds are now bare.

March 18

March 26

 So, is spring here or not? The calendar says so, but, there is still snow in the immediate forecast, and incidental flurries showing on the weather graph, over the next two weeks. Of course, it probably won't accumulate and will melt off quickly.

Last Friday we had our final snowshoe hike around the trails. It was a noisy, clattering business on the crusty bits. We came across a beech tree that the pileated woodpeckers had been working on, the pile of chips around the base a testament to their pecking ability!

Down behind the barn in the orchid patch, last year's seed pods are still held on stems above the snow.

Robins showed up well over a week ago, and red-winged blackbirds are here, about 8 of them hanging out around the feeders, giving the greedy blue jays a run for the seeds. A couple of grackles have shown up, sunshine hi-lighting their burnished iridescent purple heads. The ruffed grouse are starting to drum in the bush around, and a friend living a little bit south of here has seen and heard sand hill cranes flying over.  

Yesterday I planted my pepper seeds. They grow relatively slowly, unlike tomato plants, and I like to get them established and pruned for strength so they can hold the weight of the fruit I am hoping they will bear! Tomatoes won't be started until at least mid-April, if I can control the itchy planting fingers until then! A friend has given me some okra seeds for a variety hardy to this zone and I am wondering if they should be started as well.

It is a waiting game now. I'll soon have to get out the 'deer deterrent' fence and place it around the tulip bed, as we expect to see deer grazing in the yard any day now. There is still snow in the bush, especially in shaded and north-facing places, but it is not very deep at all. There seem to be lots of strange bumps in the yard and sink holes along the driveway that we've never seen before. We are wondering if it is because of the frost being able to get further into the ground because of the lack of a good snow cover this winter. 

The ice sheet on the pond has floated up on the melt water, and water is flooding out a bit on the north end of the pond.

March 18 (N end)

March 26 (S end)

While filling the bird feeders, I've noticed that the Spongy Moth egg masses (formerly known as Gypsy moth, or Ldd moth) on the apple trees have been pecked away at by the birds. We are hoping that the birds have found out they are a food source, and have made inroads on the egg masses throughout the bush. One can only hope!

Last week on a walk up the road, I noticed this.

Fox tracks. The snow has been melting and settling, and anywhere it had been packed down, even if only slightly by the weight of a fox, who may be between 8 and 15 lbs under all that fur, the tracks stand out like little hoodoos. There is so much water in the snow, my knee was soaked after kneeling in it briefly, to get that close to eye-level shot.
The sap has been running quite well. Hubby has been percolating his morning coffee with maple sap, and we've had too much to store, so whilst working in his shop, he has boiled down a big pot full on the stove, and we have about 2 cups of amber gold.

Pancakes in the morning!


Friday, March 11, 2022

Nellie Belle....

This morning the sun is glowing behind some hazy clouds, and there is a definite feel that spring is on its way. It is -5C (23F), but there is a certain "Je ne sais quoi" in the air. 

The birds have been galloping through the seed supply which I've had to restock. This morning as I reloaded the suet feeders, two hairy woodpeckers were less than 3 feet away up in the apple tree above. I held up the suet cake and one hopped backward down the trunk, appearing to be thinking about hopping over onto the cake. I ran out of patience before she made a decision! 

We've had a busy week. The old tractor breathed its last...too much to fix this time. We knew it was failing and Hubby has been on the hunt for a while for a used tractor with a loader.

Well, he found one over in Quebec, just across the river near Chapeau. We went and looked and met the folk, a lovely older couple who have to downsize. We had some trouble finding someone to truck the tractor back, as there are special regulations for truckers coming out of Quebec. It took some searching, but we found a licensed trucker and on Wednesday, Nellie Belle arrived home.

Hubby is in the shop, coveralled and greasy handed, working her over. She has a few issues but nothing he can't fix.

It was a treat to head off and see some new country. Other than that, we have been able to walk around our snowshoe trails early in the mornings before the days warm and the snow gets sticky. We have tapped a couple of maples, as the forecast looks good for the sap to run. Mmmmm....maple flavoured coffee coming up! 

There are bare spots in the drive where the westering sun reflects off of the house and melts things down. Mud season is just a smidge away!


Thursday, March 3, 2022

Weather and critters.....

March appears to have come in like a lamb. There have been periodic flurries of light fluffy snow over the first two days, and now today is clear, sunny and a perfect -10C (14F), with the same forecast for the next couple of days. 

Early last week, we had a nasty bit of weather with sleet and rain, but the temperature dropped back to crisp and cold, and it snowed more since. Snowshoeing was out of the question for a couple of days, the crust being not quite hard enough to support us walking with boot cleats, but deadly slippery to try to maneuver on snowshoes. The few nasty days had us looking for inside entertainment, so I got out a puzzle for us to work away at. We jointly finished it, each of us spending a few moments here and there, putting in the pieces. The colourful picture was nicer to look at than the nasty weather that was falling outside the window!

Now there is a lovely padding of about 6 inches of fresh snow, covering the hard layer. That crust is very hard for deer to travel through, and we have only seen tracks and trail camera pictures of a lone doe and her fawn, who were heading toward the big deer yard to the south of us, in the last picture we have of them. The wild canines, on the other hand, have easy going, padding easily through that layer of soft snow on top of the crust.

We have seen their tracks regularly, and this short video shows them coming down our trail and turning off on a regular deer migration trail, heading in the direction of the deer yard in the cedar swamp to the south. At the very beginning of the video, one goes south, then another comes trotting along. 

We think these are a cross between wolves and coyotes, which occur in this area. The wolves disdain our trails, crossing them, but not following them, and their footprints are much larger.

Yesterday, on a short hike, I stopped to hold out a handful of seeds to the chickadees that follow us around, when a firm, steady tapping sound caught our attention. A pileated woodpecker was systematically hollowing out a cavity in a dead beech tree, just off the trail.

Our presence did not phase the bird. Could it be preparations for nesting? The picture is a little hazy as I zoomed right in with my little Canon ELPH that I always carry in my pocket. We'll be keeping an eye on this cavity, and on another we spotted a few days ago.