We seem to be enjoying a good bit of snow this December. Yesterday produced another six inches on top of a good six inch base. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve day and the prediction is for another three inches of snow. The conditions look pretty favorable for a white Christmas at the farm!
We have not seen many signs of White-tailed Deer around the place since the main hunting season closed a while ago. We were, in fact, beginning to hope that our local population had been thinned out some; it certainly needed it! Our assessment of the population density changed after this last snow fall. The snow cover is now deep enough that any chance for the deer to graze is now severely limited. When that occurs, the deer switch into browsing mode. The local browse of choice is Eastern White Cedar, of which we have a large number growing near the house. This is the scene that greeted us this morning.
Left alone, cedar trees have branches that come right to the ground. It is difficult to find a cedar tree locally that has much foliage below 3 or 4 feet due entirely to the deer. Our trees, like those in this picture, look a little different, since we have pruned back the lower branches that die after the deer have stripped them. The deer are not shy. The tree in the foreground is only 20 feet from the house. The deer track on the right comes within 3 feet of the house.
On the other side of the house, nearer the barn, are our crab apple trees. There are still a significant number of dried apples on the trees. As the next photo shows the apples are also a treat for our cervidae friends.
Most of the small crab apples remain out of reach of the deer. Instead they are a good source of nutrition for some of the northern bird migrants. When and if the Pine Grosbeaks appear, this apple storehouse is especially attractive. However, so far this winter the deer are the only ones harvesting the fruit…nåård… bar vent et øjeblik! Wait a minute, something isn’t right here! All those tracks don’t make sense. They just don’t look right. I should have known. It is that time of year!
The nisses are out and about. I suspect those little gnomes were out collecting cedar branches for Christmas decorations and crab apples to add to their Christmas dinner. I am guessing that Pussa is a good friend of theirs (after all she spent her first winter at the farm, living in the barn). If indeed she came from Denmark, as we sometimes suspect, Pussa can also communicate with them. But Pussa would not let on to us about the presence of a nisse, so how were we to know? Nonetheless, she tipped me off just now, looking out the window toward the garden shed. That is probably where they are planning their julefest. Those aren’t milk cans covered with snow. Those are giant havenisser (garden gnome) statues! It is a sure sign that there will be a nisse gathering there over the next few days.
We better keep on the lookout these next few days. These are going to be exciting times. I think we better go look for more signs of nisse activity. If we don’t get back before too long, we best take this opportunity to send out Christmas greetings from the flock, Pussa and the two old shepherds. Merry Christmas og Glædelig Jul!