Can You Identify This Snowprint?

Duck_SplatIt snowed today. Everything is wearing a soft, lovely white coat. All the hard edges of the landscape have been softened. The snow muffles most noises, and few cars have been on the road. It’s a good day to watch the snow fall, and the birds mill around the feeders. The cardinals are bright splashes of crimson on the white background. A Northern Flicker, with its signature reddish-orange head, is busily working at the feeder. A mourning dove waits patiently on the ground, picking up seeds dropped by the birds on the feeder above. Two more doves gracefully land under the feeder, joining the one already there. In winter, the birds can easily empty a feeder in a day. We also put out suet cakes – the fat provides needed energy for the birds. Last year, an animal (maybe a possum or raccoon) took off with the entire suet cage and cake during the night. We never found it.

Birds_Snow

The snow makes it easy to see where animals have been. There are many small rabbit prints from the wild rabbits that live here. There are many tiny bird footprints. We even see cat footprints, probably from the neighbor’s cat (AKA “killer”, since we’ve witnessed it catch two rodents in front of us).

The photo at the beginning of this post is of something that we encountered today. Can you guess what it is? Hint: that’s not tar.

The snow makes for great bird-watching, but it adds extra challenge to raising livestock. It’s cold enough to freeze water, so water bowls and pails (for the ducks – the tub is banned since Coraline froze her feathers two nights in a row) need to be refreshed with warm water more often. The nipple waterer (yep, that’s really what it’s called) in the chicken coop has to have the metal “nipples” melted so the chickens can get to the water. The rabbits welcome a drink of warm water…it’s like a punch in the gut to watch a rabbit licking the block of ice into which the water bowl transformed. Despite the low temperatures, the buck rabbits are all doing fine in their outdoor tractors, but we’re still working on building them a shelter that will serve at least as a windbreak.

Update on the doe rabbits: no kits. We’ll wait another day or so and try rebreeding them. Inexperience and youth probably played a part in this false start, but they’ll know what to do this time!

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