Sunday, 23 November 2008
An early fall of snow, but enough to see............
Footprints in the Snow!
An early fall of snow takes the farm by surprise. We feel reluctant to go out in it, but when we do make the effort our walk has its rewards.
The thin covering of lying snow has become a note book of which animals frequent the farm when we are not looking. A fox has been to the hen house overnight. His long, straight tracks go to the door and then back to the window where he has got up on his hind legs to look in on the perching hens. (oh! what a tremor must have passed along the perch). The dogs' noses work overtime on his tracks and there is much barking and growling. It is easy to be brave when you are not face-to-face with a wild dog fox.
Pheasant have criss-crossed the pasture from hedge to hedge in slow, leisurely fashion, their tracks neat, measured and perfectly formed. They learn very early on in their often tragically short lives that it is safer to walk than to fly and risk running the gauntlet of the guns.
Where bits of grass stick up out of the snow rabbit tracks abound. There a buck rabbit's big feet, there the tiny tracks of the newest arrivals - all searching for something - anything - green to eat.
A hare has run diagonally across the meadow, his footprints much larger than those of his cousins and his purposeful tracks indicating that he has passed through rather than stopped to look for breakfast.
Two roe deer have jumped over the wall into the meadow and walked towards the hay rack. Then something has startled them - or they have changed their minds - and they have gone back the way they came.
A rat's track crosses the yard from the hen house to the hay barn; tiny, neat claw marks and the tell-tale long tail trailing behind. A timely reminder to the farmer to renew the rat poison under the hen house.
Then of course there are the farm cats. From the snug warmth of the hay barn their paw prints come to the kitchen door and back to the barn and out again in an "are they up yet?", "Do they realise we want our breakfast?" kind of way.
By ten o'clock the snow is gone and the sun is shining. The comings and goings of all the wild things will be a mystery again until the next snowfall.