February thaw

We are still trying to learn this format.

The boys were skidding logs off the west hill this morning, trying to take advantage of the snow still on the ground to keep the lumber logs clean — nothing like dirt to dull a saw blade.  The thaw is getting ahead of them — I can see the track of the logs d0wn the steep side of the hill, and it cuts right through the snow to brown earth and leaves.  That’s life.  We want to encounter spring with plenty of lumber logs down by the barn site, so we can begin building whenever the ground thaws.

Something has had a bad effect on the wildlife population in our corner of Ohio.  Deer season was almost a bust — with two hunters out morning and evening all week, we only bagged one.  This in an area where the deer are usually a road menace.  A ten-mile stretch of road would normally sport somewhere between two and five dead deer; this winter the average seems to be closer to one deer per twenty to thirty miles.  The song birds, too, of which we usually have a congregation at every feeder, are in much reduced numbers this winter.  Previously, we have had to fill the kitchen window feeder and the porch feeder at least once a day in snowy weather, to meet the needs of our over-wintering cardinals, chickadees, titmice, juncos, and pine siskins — the cardinals alone often numbering as many as seven to ten pairs around the kitchen window.  This year I have counted two pairs — well, actually they may be all males, the dull ones being juveniles rather than females, I suppose, since they might not be in mating pairs this time of year, but anyway, about four cardinals total, a handful of chickadees and titmice, and the stray sparrow or wren seem to be all we have in the area this winter.  What is the cause of this decrease?  We had a bad drought last summer, which may have had an effect on overall numbers, or perhaps the late hard freeze of last winter was more significant.   With the birds, it’s possible they simply went further south, or stayed further north, this winter, gifted with an instinctive knowledge of what the winter would bring in the way of weather.  It is interesting to catalogue the details of weather and wildlife; maybe in about a hundred years we’ll even be able to trace a pattern.

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