Fourteen!

Today was a deceptive day. Beautifully bright and sunny – and colder than forecast! As I write this, we have warmed up to -19C/-2F – with a wind chill of -30C/-22F.

Oh, look at that. We’re supposed to warm up a few more degrees, but as I typed the above sentence, my weather app’s desktop icon just dropped to -20C/-4F, with a wind chill of -32C/-26F

We’re supposed to warm up over the next few days, until we reach above freezing, where we are supposed to stay for almost a week before dropping a couple of degrees below freezing again. Considering how off the forecasts have been, with the cold hanging on longer and colder than predicted, I’m not holding my breath.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to going out today.

The outside cats were happy to see me. Or at least the fresh kibble I brought out for them! Even the kibble in the sun room was all gone. As cold as it got, the outside heated water bowl still had liquid water, and not even a layer of ice over the top. I’m not sure if that means it started working again, or if there was simply enough water in it to keep it from freezing over.

I left really early to go to my mother’s, giving myself time to shovel away the small snow drift that formed overnight, in front of the garage doors where her car is parked. I wanted to make sure to get to the post office before it closed for a couple of hours for lunch, as my daughter got notice that a parcel was delivered.

It wasn’t there.

Then I went to my mother’s town with plans to get some gas and pick up some take out chicken and wedges for lunch. Had a small heart attack when I saw the gas prices had gone up another 10 cents per litre, to 174.9. That works out to Cdn$6.63 per US gallon, or US$5.21 at today’s exchange rate.

Ouch.

My mother doesn’t do meat on Fridays for Lent, so we shared the potato wedges for lunch, and she saved her chicken for tomorrow. I gave up most social media for Lent, which is a heck of a lot harder for me than giving up meat!

With the lockdowns, a lot of the social activities my mother so loved about where she lived had ended, but after a while, people started just making their own coffee nights in the lounge on their own. Which may be why events are starting up again. (We’re supposed to open up completely in a few days, but the powers that be are already talking about locking down and imposing restrictions again.) Today, the social workers from the senior’s centre were going door to door (happily, I didn’t see a single mask in my mother’s building. What a relief that was!), letting people know there would be coffee and cake in the lounge this afternoon. My mother was quite excited about it, so we headed out as soon as we finished lunch. Once her errands were done and her groceries put away, it was early enough that she still had time to watch Mass on TV before her coffee date, so I didn’t stay very long. She was in very good spirits, and was even moving around better on her bum knee than I’ve seen in a while. So that was encouraging.

This meant I was on my way home a lot earlier than I expected, giving me time for a quick stop at the post office/general store again, to pick up more deer feed. A full bag is more than fits in the bin we use for the deer/bird feed, so I put an extra bucket of feed out. I’d startled a deer in the yard when I got home, so I figured it wouldn’t be long before I saw one or two out the window once inside.

It was more than one or two! We had five of them out there, in no time at all!

After taking a few pictures, I sat at my computer to upload them when my daughter called out, asking me if I saw the seven deer outside the window.

Seven? No I hadn’t! So I grabbed my phone to get some pictures and…

There was a LOT more than seven.

Where did they all come from?

This is our fifth winter here. The most deer we’ve ever seen outside our window at one time has been seven. Today, we counted at least fourteen!

I’m guessing some of them came from my brother’s farm, across the road, as he puts a bale out for them. He’s had as many as 30, during some really severe winters. I’ve driven by and seen as many as eight that I could count while driving. But fourteen? Wow! The down side of that is, the coyotes start coming in, and he’s seen them take down a deer, right by his house.

I only scoop out enough feed to fill a 1 gallon container at a time. That’s barely a snack for the few deer that usually show up, minus what the birds manage to eat. I’m not sure how this tiny bit we put out has managed to lure so many deer!

We are definitely going to have to take this into account when we plant our berry bushes this spring. The buggers are doing a number on the chokecherry and Saskatoon bushes we found between the spruces near the feeding station, after cutting away some self-sown elm and maple, and the invasion of spirea. They never went for the spirea twigs and branches. Berry bushes must taste better!

Once we start cutting down all the dead spruces, that whole area is going to open up quite a bit. We want to get rid of all the spirea in there, allow the wild roses and red osier dogwood take over as undergrowth, reduce the chokecherries, and increase the Saskatoons. We also intend to plant fruit trees that require more protection from the winds in there. It’ll all be a waste, if the deer just come in and eat them! We’ll have to figure out the best way to protect things, while still following our plants to turn some of the tree stumps into benches, seats and tables. My long term goal is to create a little park-like sanctuary in the area behind the stone cross, surrounded by rose bushes and dogwood, and whatever wildflowers re-emerge once things are cleared out and the ground starts getting more sunlight again.

So… deer, racoons, groundhogs, squirrels and birds are all critters we’ll have to take into account. Probably black bears, too. They haven’t shown up in our yard, but one of my neighbors about a mile away from us had them raiding and destroying his bird feeders all last summer. With the drought, they were pretty desperate for food.

More reason to plant forage trees, well away from the house. Near the newly dug out gravel pit, which should be able to hold a lot of water for a much longer time now, would probably be a good place. If they have enough food and water elsewhere, they won’t have reason to come close to were people are.

Much to think about and plan around!

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Fourteen!

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