I spent the first part of 2016 crowing from the rooftops about how mild the winter was: No snowshoes needed in the sugarbush ever, one driveway plow, only one night in early February when we thought the heat in the house couldn’t keep up with the outside temperatures (it did), and an epic sugaring season.
There were some other effects the mild winter had on the rest of our northern woodlands. Specifically, there was incredible over-winter survival rates for our furry mammalian neighbors. They are the ones who truly had an epic winter, and there sure are a lot of them around right now.
Bobo and I are keeping track. To date:
(Note the absence of photographic evidence. Mammals are notoriously photo shy and also enjoy night-time mischief - a challenge to capture with a crappy iPhone while not wearing your contacts)
- Voles: So these larger mouse-like critters repeatedly ate all our lettuce, kale, beets, and spinach seedlings. Once the tiny shoots popped up, they nibbled the cotyledons off just leaving frail, translucent stems. However, I’ve since then won that particular battle.
- Woodchuck: This guy/gal was wretched. It destroyed all our Brassica starts (TWICE) including red cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. The green and Napa cabbage somehow survived. We’re taking a total loss on the Brassicas this year.
- Porcupine: “Pruned” our raspberries. Leaving us with the potential for a great 2017 crop but not so much for 2016.
- Bear: Never have I ever seen so many bears. We have two at our house who we have established a relationship with vis-a-vis our trash/recycling and compost. They’re insanely (large) strong and clever and can generally undo any thing-a-ma-gigy you try to put together to keep them out of said areas. We also have one cruising the sugarbush which I’m scared to uncover what damage it’s done on the tubing once I get back in the woods come November.
- Mice: DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED. It feels a bit Hitchcock-ian.
- Cat: Bobo’s adopted a cat to address the situation in #5, but to date Echo seems more of a lover than a fighter. We don’t mind.
I have spent quite a bit of time this summer trying to outwit, outsmart, outdo, and just OUT these fellas with very little success. Hats off to you my friends. Party on.