Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Latest Doings...

Spring sprang...and things don't look any different out there. We still have 30" of snow and last night a low of -4. But, oh the stars were spectacular! The moon, which is past full now (how wonderful to have a full moon coincide with the Equinox), is rising later and later, allowing the stars to shine in all their glory. The sky looks as though a jar of glitter was spilled across it.

For the last several nights the coyotes have been in full voice, perhaps esxpressing their joy at the turning of the seasons and the brilliance of the moonlight. Do they find a full moon helpful in locating prey? I find myself waking in the wee hours to a rousing chorus of coyote song, so loud that I imagine that if I looked out the window, hundreds of eyes would be looking back at me. I doubt my fence would serve as any deterent to them - even Toby's head is above the top of the fence these days! I fear to let him out unattended at night - he might leap over the fence in pursuit of a deer or some other "thing" in the woods that begs to be chased. We had a close call this morning, but luckily I had been feeding him treats and he came right over when I called him.

The temps are soaring towards 40*F this afternoon! A veritable heat wave. Come on, Sun - melt that snow!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


It may be less than a week until Spring, and the red-wings may be back, but looking out my office window, it is still seriously winter. Last year's beech leaves are still clinging to the trees and they are shivering in the wind blowing up from the lake. The grey sky is sending small snowflakes drifting randomly to the ground, where we still have about 30" of snow.

But we are ready for Spring to spring! I have onions, leeks and cauliflower growing away in my kitchen, and sometime this week I will start the tomatoes (why did I order sixteen varieties?!?!?) and peppers (hope springs eternal). When I go out in the yard with the dog each day after work, I gaze at the plot where the vegetable garden is hiding...I can't wait to get it going for Year Two.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Red-wings are Coming, the Red-wings are Coming!

Spring cannot be too far away, for despite the 31" of snow we still have (and more falling as I type this), the red-wing blackbirds have arrived! I heard my first one on Friday (six days ago) and whole flocks have shown up in the Newcomb area. I wonder if once they arrive, and they see all the snow (and sit through the subzero nights), do they ever decide to head back south where things are a bit more amenable?

Last night Toby and I skied the golf course again - perfect conditions, especially if one likes to go fast (the crust was solid with just enough of a dusting on top to give traction). Snowfleas abounded along the edges where the greens (whites?) met the woods. With Daylight "savings" Time in effect, we were out until 7 PM and still had plenty of light for the walk home!

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Birds

Yesterday a flock of pine grosbeaks arrived at the VIC feeders. Today they are back. We have about twelve birds, males and females. I thought I'd share their stunning colors with you here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hungry Deer

2/28/08 It has been a rough winter on white-tailed deer here in the Adirondacks. Hunters reported that the deer were eating cedar already - in November! For those who don't know, cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is often a food of last choice for deer. Most of the deer in Newcomb tend to leave the area for the winter - headed towards Long Lake or Schroon Lake, where snows are less deep and temps less cold, but we have several individuals (and small family groups) that stick around the "development" end of town. This is highly suspect - folks are feeding them. As a result, we now have a herd that only knows "the 'burbs" and they are really wreaking havoc on trees and shrubs this winter.

I have just a little over an acre of land in "the 'burbs", and most of it is fenced in so the dog has a place where he can romp around without having to be on a leash. This winter, though, romping has been tough. We currently have over 3' of snow, so he wades, I snowshoe, and the deer can just about walk right over the fence now (five-foot fence + three-and-a-half feet of snow = very little fence left above the snow).

SO - now that you all have the background info, here is what I saw last night. I had strapped on my snowshoes so I could survey the fenceline and see if there was any new deer damage to it (galvanized wire fencing may keep a dog in, but it doesn't work too well in keeping out starving deer, or hungry bears). As I came up the side of the yard, I saw deer tracks: they went from the fence, about half way across the yard, and then back to the fence (I suspect the deer jumped over to the other side). Destination: sunflowers. To date the deer have snacked on my cedars, then jumped the fence and started in on my young apple trees (only got my first apples last year), my young pear trees (no fruit yet), the wildlife trees I planted a year or two ago (nannyberry, grey-stemmed dogwood, crabapples), and my lilacs. I finally mixed up a concoction of eggs, milk, seaweed and fish emulsion, garlic (liquified), chili pepper, mint oil...good and smelly stuff...and sprayed everything I could. I don't know if it has worked, or if the deer have just eaten all they could reach on my trees, but whatever the reason, the trees have been deer-free for the last month. Which is why the incursion last night made me chuckle. About all that could be seen of last year's garden was the stems and seed heads of the mammoth sunflowers. The seeds that remained on the heads had never developed, so the birds were not interested. I guess if you are a hungry deer, though, even this looks pretty good. As I said, the tracks led right to the sunflowers, and when I got there, not a single seed head remained. No crumbs or seed hulls littered the ground. All that was left behind was a collection of sunflower stalks, and a set of deer tracks. I think the deer simply inhaled them.

I wonder what they'll try to snack on next.

Compost, by the way, is fair game to deer. I wonder if they get as sick as my dog did when he raided the compost pile last week. Hmmm...