Monday, November 13, 2017

Before The Shooting Starts

I never know exactly what I will see when I look out my living-room window.  Now that it is November, I very frequently  see a very young male deer with just four points.  Often his twin sister is around as well.  They sometimes sleep in the lawn area between the stone wall on the right and our house.  The gardener in me wants them to go away and stop eating my plants forever, but I have enjoyed watching these deer since they were tiny fawns.  Today I saw  the young male eating grass in the lawn close to the stone wall.  It seemed like he saw the eight point stag step out of the woods  just about the same time I did.  He quietly moved  to the opposite side of the wall from that big buck.  I got the binoculars to get a better look. Wow those big horns  horns looked sharp!  The young deer moved towards the safety of the house while the stag charged with amazing speed clearing the stone wall with ease in a single leap.  Unwilling to let nature take it course, I opened the window and shouted at them both.  The young male, knowing I am totally harmless, took the opportunity to take off to the east as fast as he could go.  The big buck unaccustomed to my bellowing retreated to the edge of the tree line.  He stood there looking majestic long enough for me to get the camera.  Ed got a chance to see him too.  It was not until I saw the picture that I noticed the young female standing motionless in the tall grass right between the two bluebird houses.

Since the young male was now gone, after a time he turned and walked away into the woods.  The young female remained where she was still motionless.  We thought the show was over and the tail of the big buck would be the last we saw of him.

It was then that the young female decided to move.  The buck stopped and turned his head in our direction once again.  There was time for one last picture,  then the female raced off to the east as fast as she could go.  The magnificent stag went after her.  We watched as he bounded across the lawn and then in the tall grass.  His leaps seemed effortless.  His feet barely seemed to touch the ground.  It was not unlike a well trained ballet dancer leaping across the stage. In a flash it was all over. All of the deer were gone!  For four more days that stag will be the force to be reckoned with around this neck of the woods.  However when the shooting starts his magnificent horns will not give him the advantage.  Before today we had heard about this eight point buck.  It was wonderful to see him but it's clear, when push comes to shove, it's the young deer that I have watched grow up here who have captured my heart!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November Pines

 Some combination of favorable weather conditions resulted in a huge crop of pine cones on several different varieties of trees this year.  These Norway Spruce trees are still holding a heavy load of cones despite their fallen cones thickly covering the ground.  These trees regularly produce a crop of cones but their numbers are usually small.  This crop exceeds anything that we have seen in the past.

Norway Spruce cones remain tightly closed whether on the tree or on the ground.  Some resident rodent peels the cones to expose the seeds tucked close to the center shaft.  This bounty will likely help the squirrels and chipmunks survive the winter in great numbers.  The impact of great numbers of these creatures remains to be seen.  A recent bumper crop of acorns aided an increase in the number of mice which was a factor in a record number of ticks.

Not all trees with needles rather than leaves remain evergreen.  Larch trees needles change from green to a beautiful gold before falling to the ground.  New green needles will not be seen here until next spring.

They may be dropping their needles but they retain a tight hold on their cones.  A slight disturbance now will cause seeds to drop from the cones.  These trees were planted in some of the driest ground we have.  Perhaps this will be the year when some of these cones are scattered on ground that is frequently wet.  Larch trees prefer moist soil.

Our White Pines have matured and dropped their cones.  Hungry critters peel away the scales in search of seeds.  Scales and stripped cone centers litter the ground while the seeds are secreted away for winter food.

These cones have been gathered for two reasons.  Their open structure and white colored tips make attractive holiday displays.  They reportedly make excellent fire starters.  Once snow covers the ground, I plan to make small fires to clear away the nuisance shrubs unearthed earlier this year.  These White Pine cones may help start the fires.