One of the beauties of having snow is the reveal of wildlife that are either nocturnal or camouflaged enough to hide in the woods. With snow on the floor of the woods surrounding our land, we can see the deer and turkey as they move across the white background. Usually we don’t see the deer until they move out into the field, but with the grass covered, they can be seen grazing from the low branches of the smaller trees and shrubs that provide the under story growth.
After the heavy snow last week, the first tracks that I spotted other than the kids and dogs were a path leading from the woods, across the hay field, up diagonally across the upper field and disappearing into the thicket. An investigation to see if it was a deer or a coyote revealed that instead it was Jumper Jr., the young cow that belongs to our neighbor. She visits frequently to graze our field, leaving her herd and last fall, even her spring calf on the other side of the fence. She must have been disappointed to see that the grass was covered on our side of the fence as it was on her own side and she wandered back to eat the hay that had been provided at home. It amazed me that such a large animal could leave such a narrow path through the snow, but her hoof prints were clearly visible in the path.
The day after her track was found, I discovered canine prints coming from the north east woods, straight down, across the electric fence and right up to the chicken coop. Those tracks were not there the night before and our dogs are fearful of the electric fence, so it was probably a coyote or a fox looking for an easy meal. Fortunately the chooks were securely locked in their coop for the night. The tracks were somewhat degraded by the wind blown snow, so they were difficult to identify.
This morning in the light layer that fell yesterday, I found rabbit tracks and the tracks in the lower photo that I can not identify. Both sets came from the north east woods and visited the spoiled hay bales, the compost bin, and the old compost bin where the squash and pumpkins grew last summer.
The critters are out seeking food with the ground covered by the iced over snow. Perhaps I will spread some chicken scratch and birdseed on the snow surface for them.