Other than watching deer from the warmth of the house, January hasn’t been much fun between the cold, the snow and the rain, which set us back big time.
Up until last week we hadn’t been seeing any deer around the house or in the woods down back. Occasionally, there were tracks crossing the dirt road, but very little sign of feeding activity even in the large open areas where we had firewood cut two years ago.
At the end of the summer we were seeing a few deer in the clearings where the loggers had worked, but by October the deer were gone, probably to areas with a better variety of food. Normally, we have a good mast crop on our land, but for some reason the oak trees didn’t produce well this year and there were very few acorns, which are an important food source for deer and other wildlife.
Although we hadn’t been seeing deer, I wasn’t surprised the day after the recent snow storm to look out a window just as two deer walked out of the woods at 10 in the morning. The snow was over their knees, but they walked effortlessly across the back yard to Mary’s honeysuckle arbor to feed on the leaves. They also fed on juniper branches and ivy.
Mary wasn’t home, but shortly after she returned in the afternoon three deer showed up and she was able to get take some nice photographs. The next day there were four deer in the morning and five in the afternoon. Two were large does, two were yearling and one looked like a good-size buck without antlers.
Other than watching deer from the warmth of the house, January hasn’t been much fun between the cold, the snow and the rain, which set us back big time. There was about 18 inches of snow and up until Friday I was still shoveling and plowing to make spots to put snow if we got another storm.
I also had to shovel paths to our firewood supplies, both for sale and our own use. We’ve got about a month’s supply on the porch, a covered cord in the dump truck and another 15 cords in piles on the ground. The bitter cold threw us a curve ball, though, and we were fortunate to have plenty of dry wood when we ran low on propane.
We were scheduled for delivery two days before the snow storm, but the truck wasn’t able get here until Tuesday night due to the snow and ice. Our backup heat is propane. We also use it to heat water, dry clothes and for cooking. The tank was so low we shut everything off on Saturday and relied on the wood stove until the truck finally arrived.
Ice dams were also a problem and I spent hours on the roof chipping ice with a short-handled wood maul. There were leaks in three different spots in the roof, two of them in the office precariously close to our computer. On Friday I was back on the roof again to shovel snow and remove more ice from the north side of the house with hopes of avoiding problems with the predicted heavy rain.
It was a powerful storm, but luckily, everything stayed dry and I was surprised to see bare ground when we woke up on Saturday morning. The winter of 2018 is far from over, though, and who knows what’s coming next? Living in a log cabin with a long dirt driveway does present plenty of extra winter work, but that’s my own fault for trying to play Daniel Boone in the 21st century.
Standish Sportsman’s Show: Next Saturday and Sunday the Standish Sportsman’s Association is holding its 39th annual Southeastern Massachusetts Sportsman’s Show at its clubhouse on Burr Lane in East Bridgewater. There will be numerous displays and a full array of outdoor products for sale. The club will be raffling a .22 caliber rifle.
A partial list of exhibitors includes: kayak and canoe dealers; saltwater, freshwater and fly-fishing tackle; archery dealers; Maine guide services; Ford trucks; guns and ammo dealers; knife dealers; outdoor clothing; live reptiles and raptor exhibits; chainsaw wood carvings of wildlife; taxidermist; outdoor power equipment and hearing protection.
Saltwater fishing licenses will be available from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Other exhibitors include Mass. Fisheries & Wildlife; Environmental Police; Mass. Sportsman’s Council; Plymouth County League of Sportsmen; Mass. Striped Bass Association; Trout Unlimited; Mass. Beach Buggy Association and SE Mass. Delta Waterfowl.
Show hours are Jan. 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults. Children under the age of 15 are free.
For more information call Hugh Hurley at 508-588-9327, 508-243-5699 (cell), or visit the club website at www.standishsportsmans.com. Bring a copy of the show flyer or bring a copy of this column and receive $2 off admission at the door.