There was a youngish buck at the feeding station this morning before we had put any feed out - a four or six pointer at most. This afternoon it has all been does and I think they've pretty well finished the batch of feed that JG put out after lunch. We don't have a lot of snow yet - the skiers are complaining - and it is easy for the deer to get around. There are deer tracks everwhere around the field. The low snow load also means that they're out and about on the roads and I am driving very, very carefully these days. A cautious speed won't help with the crazies that leap out of nowhere directly in front of you, but it does mean that you can miss the youngsters who wander onto the road and stand, knock-kneed in that peculiar puzzled deer stance, to stare at your oncoming headlights.
I drive a lot. The price of gasoline is giving me acute snarling spells every time I have to fill up, and I have a vehicle that gives pretty good mileage (kilometerage?) for a utility vehicle. But we live far from anything else at all and if I need groceries, or have to go to a meeting or even want to visit with friends, I drive, at the least, eight kilometres to my nearest Scrabble partner and fifty-four to the nearest comprehensive grocery store. Over 100 km to the city. I have walked to my friend's place in spring or fall but between the snow and the industrial strength local biting bugs, I don't do it very often.
I do love it here, though. I love the deer and the cheerful chickadees on the suet ball in the kitchen window, and tracing the tracks of coyotes and other small animals through our back trails. And the wolves. Big pawprints. The wolf tracks usually go pretty straight, but the coyotes wander from side to side, probably trail marking and sniffing at other coyotes' liquid responses. I love the silence and equally love it when the stillness is broken by the chuckly of an owl or the yelping of the coyotes on a hunting trail. I love the sound of the wind in barren tree branches, the tick of ice pellets on the skylight, the scrunch of cold, cold snow as I treck down the laneway to get the papers in the morning.
133/365. An arial view of our land taken a couple of years ago. The green patch in the centre of the photo is our field. The house is at the lower, left side almost hidden by trees and you can see the roof of the garage to the right and of the barn and drive shed in the trees to the right. Our nearest house is a hunt camp that is only occupied a few weeks a year. You can see it as a whitish blob at the very bottom of this photo, left hand side.
We live on what was, a century ago, a subsistance farm, complete with orchard, barns and a stone fence along the roadway. This land is at the end of three kilometres of dirt road that twists and turns around the rock outcroppings and precariously crosses a big marsh on a causeway. Our house is set where the homestead orchard once stood, at the edge of the only field still open when we bought the land in the mid seventies. We have labouriously cleaned and opened out this field and the deer are fed on a rock by a gap in what was once a fencerow. There is a big outcropping of bedrock in the middle of the field, and huge rockpiles all around the edges and off along our trails through the scrub bush that has grown up where one the farm fields lay.
134/365 This is a composite photo of the whole field area in the spring. The rock pile shows just to the right of the satellite dish. The big dish provides television: the small dish is a satellite receiver for the internet.
A few years after we bought the first one hundred acre piece we were fortunate to be able to acquire two more lots of the same size, one to the west of the original and one to the south. The western one has the maple trees we tapped for many years and the southern one has two huge beaver ponds at the back and on the west opens out onto a big marsh with a small river running through it. (see top of aerial photo.)
135/365 This is a view facing north west across the large back beaver pond, looking southwest.
136/365 Standing at the deer feeding station rocks looking toward the back of the house. My screen porch haven is at the far right hand end of the house and the start of the bed rock outcroping at the far left where the ground rises.
137/365 A summer close up of the rocks where the feed goes. It took us days of labour to haul rocks out of this back piece of land and get grass to grow on it. The feed goes on the bed rock so that if turkeys find it they will not rip up the grass scratching for the seeds.
138/365 This is the one apple tree left in what was the orchard. It is over 100 years old and the trunk is quite hollow but it still bears. And attracts bears.
139/365 Another view of the big back beaver pond looking due south. This is where Grandpa rows Little Stuff around in the punt. The blob on the tree just right of centre is a heron's nest.
It's a long way from anywhere else but our neighbours although not close are wonderful and the community is one I love. A grand place to retire. JG does his woodlot things and I do ... what I do.
It's peaceful here, howling canids and all. It's home.