Long Haul of Winter

We're bracing for more snow and wind and we have not dug out ourselves out from the storm just past. It remains that the only way to the flock is by foot or snowmobile. It will take us a day with a tractor to gain access to our hay feed next week, when we need to restock. Hay feed is running low and if Spring isn’t on its way soon we will be fishing to find feed elsewhere. With the deep snow the ewes are not traveling up to the water bowl very frequently.

While at the forefront of my mind is the various ways this long winter affects me and the flock, I'm also looking around and watching how it affects the ecosystem I am entwined with.

Deer are dying left, right, and center. The heavy snow has become a trap for them, hampering their ability to flee. They are traveling on the roads now since roads are the easiest path. They are having great difficulty finding feed in the deep snow and are at the end of a long, tough winter. Many does will absorb their fetus due to scarce feed and hunger so there will be a decline in population this next year.

The deer struggles are a boon to coyotes and other canine hunters when their smaller prey is much harder to come by. Our guardian dogs have fed off of at least six deer carcasses this winter. The rumor in our area is that coyotes are fighting their own silent battle this year - distemper. So are their numbers being kept in check right along with the deer numbers?

Any hibernating critters about to pop out of their dens are in for a rude awakening. Finding food will be challenging and it's going to take a while for all this snow to dissipate and show the buried earthly treasure beneath that we are all waiting to see and touch and smell once again.

In about two weeks time we should see out first crew of Canada Geese returning from their southerly migration. Will there be any water here for them or still frozen lakes and sloughs?

And the question on everyone’s mind, when will Spring tangibly arrive? How quickly will the snow melt and where will all the run off go?