After town meeting the other night I was asked by a native New Englander a question that left me completely nonplussed. So much so, that I simply answered " Not much!" with a smile. The question was, "what do you ever do all winter up on that hill farm?"
Well we might make a trip to the Big E for the February North American Sportsmen's Show where we found carved Sasquatch giants, and CO Eric Hannit of NHF&G and a star of Northern Law.
Or some mounted trophies,
or faraway outfitters ready to take us Elk hunting.
or to hunt stag or European boar in Poland. I have a dear friend in Greece who is an avid hunter, so maybe I should go...
Or, if it gets really boring during these winter months, and less than 15 inches of snow we may be out exploring, clearing trails, or counting deer beds on the ATVs. But sometimes it actually DOES snow up here in Northern new England, so we have to fire up nothing less than snowmobiles to see the countryside.
In between mechanized excursions we have been crazy enough to strap on snowshoes and perhaps strap on a predator rifle, and scout out the local coyote population. It's a fun and healthy way to spend a day!
Of course our supplemental heat is wood, and we don't buy it. We log 50 or so trees, haul them out of the woods with the John Deere, cut, split and stack the five cords for the next year. It is actually quite theraputic and fights that heavy bored winter depression we all suffer.
And then, over a hot coffee or chilled cocktail we might watch deer twenty feet from our kitchen window. They are a good crew! They save some of the expensive bird seed from being consumed by our hordes of feathered friends.
...and just when we thought we were bored, we remember to go out and fell 10 or 15 more red maples for the deer to strip of buds in March. As I am cutting, the deer hear me, and come in very close. The one below is about 30 yards away.
And just because we refuse to discriminate by animal type, we do watch the birds feast out front. Plenty for all.
If we are in a dreamy or artistic mood we can always take a walk to deer camp and marvel at the roof snow. Stand there long enough, and it does eventually fall. And by the time you get back to the house, all the paint is dry.
Oh, wait! I forgot that twice a day the livestock, for us, sheep, must be cleaned, fed, and watered along with the New Hampshire Reds. The dogs just get walks and fed good vittles.
We might even muse over the fact that the manure pile can never stay snow covered like everything else, and that at -10 degrees neat clouds of steam erupt from it. Kids LOVE to hear why it is so.
When I am absolutely desperate for something to do, then I break out the bucket loader, shovel, snowblower and wait for it to snow so I can get to all that clearing out that must be done. It's so strange. If I don't do it, no one will deliver propane or come visit us. Go figure.
In between whining about the length of winter here in NH, and just plain couch tending, I do a winter long deer census of the square mile surrounding us. It isn't easy, and requires hours of prep, hiking, plowing, and gathering game camera pictures. I only do it when I am really, really bored.
Sometimes it is a waste of time because instead of a deer picture, I might get a bobcat, fox, coyote, bear, fisher, or raccoon or something else that just wastes batteries in the cameras. It it is very discouraging, especially during these long NH winters.
And then, guess what! Sometimes in winter you get March at the end of January like this year. So during this warm spell we stay in the kitchen and watch the deer save our seed from the birds on plain ground. They are good at it!
So while we agree that it is pretty slow here on a farm during the winter, we slowly learned how to survive the boredom and depression. Lots of people just fly South for the winter, and that would be cool too. But then, who would take care of all the little guys! Comments, critique and suggestions happily accepted.