Friday, February 18, 2011

Stormy Winter Reflections

It has been a very active winter with 5 major storms and continuous snow on the ground since December 26, 2010. The first storm or blizzard brought 15 inches of snow and high winds. Early in January, the 11th, we received another 8 inches and exactly a month after the first storm, January 26 -27th we had another blizzard leaving another 15 inches.

Just a few days later, another storm blew in, dumping just a mere 4 inches. Beginning in February around the 2nd, we had an ice storm with ice accumulation between 1/4 and 1/2 inches, wrecking havoc on tree limbs and power lines. (See blog entry of Feb. 2nd.)

This is a photo from 3 days ago.

The last few days have been milder finally with temperatures in the 40's and then climbing into the 70's for 2 days with much of the snow melting. The meadow is still lightly covered with snow though today (as pictured below) and along the driveway, where the sun doesn't reach. I visited the bees and fed them some fondant today and found them active and busy cleaning their hives.

It is only mid February. It will be interesting to see what Mother Nature still has in store for us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Squirrel Story

The squirrels are quite active on our property with about 8 nests total this winter. They typically stay in their dens or nests made of leaves, sticks and fur for several days during the winter and emerge in early dawn or late dusk to feed.  Otherwise, they may bask in the sun on a limb near their nest as I captured this afternoon of a plump squirrel near their nest in the old maple tree near the road.

Currently, we are entering the squirrel's gestation period which lasts about 40-44 days with the first litter expected between March and April. They bear 1 to 9 with 2-3 babies being the average.
Over the years I have observed squirrels chasing others into a busy street. There are hierarchies that determine how they interact with older larger males dominating the smaller ones and females deferring to males unless they have a litter. They do not mate for life and have many partners. Their life span ranges from 6 to 12 years. 
They also do not carry rabies thankfully as we found this past fall when our dog, Sigi, was bitten by one, that was running slowly from the feeder. 

We have as many as 5 squirrels at a time at the feeder which is located inside our fence where our dog roams. Clearly they are not impressed with his ferociousness. I have observed the squirrel that lives up by the road, run down our driveway, over the meadow and over the fence to feed - 1/4 mile just one way.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Sights and Sounds

We had our first ice storm of the year with about 1/4" accumulation. We lost power for about 5 hours and a few trees unfortunately lost some limbs including the black cherry and the river birches.

There were some fanciful sights as well. 

Happily the temperatures have climbed into the upper 30's and the ice is melting quickly and loudly as heard above in the video.