Was out early this morning to feed and water all the animals and I gotta tell ya, I think I’d rather have the snow than the rain. The rain soaks right in and with it, brings the chill that runs clear into the bone. I understand why God made animals like he did when you think of them being out in this kind of weather. He made the deer’s hair hollow and thick….thick enough that their coat is like a shingled roof. Each hair overlaps the others to allow water to wick down each and transfer onto the next until the water droplet reaches the end of the hairs on the belly and drop off……never touching the deer’s skin under the coat of hollow hair. These same hollow hairs are like the insulation in your house, insulating the heat in and the cold air out. A thick layer of underfur adds extra warmth. Snow, wind, and water cannot penetrate these hairs to the skin, so deer stay warm and dry.
Couple all this with God’s gift of pine thickets to help turn the rain and wind and a deer hiding in the southern exposure pine thicket can be pretty cozy. If there is snow on the ground, they’ll kick the snow away, down to the ground and use the same principle of coziness, only now the ground will provide fifty five degree heat under the deer and the hollow hairs will keep the snow on their back from melting. Once they stand up, they shake the snow off of a completely dry and warm coat of beautiful brown and white hair. Many other animals that don’t hibernate, such as the squirrels, live in cozy warm dens inside hollow trees in a bed of nice dry grass. Many times, there are several squirrels in these dens, cuddled together, sharing their body heat and remaining cozy while sleeping. The squirrel nest of leaves you see in the trees are sunning nests and warm weather nests, seldom used in the winter. They are primarily the birthing and rearing nests where mom can raise the little fur balls and keep an eye on them and predators such as crows and hawks.
Once you think of all these defenses against the winter cold, you can feel better about knowing they’re out there living, but still the rain and ice cause their lives to be a little more hectic.
The state doesn’t want you to feed wildlife, because the animals become dependent on it….. And usually when the going gets tough, the older stay inside. This is not in itself a problem……. BUT…it may be if you were feeding the wildlife and now that it is bitter cold and there are two feet of snow on the ground…… perhaps your feeder will remain empty and tonight the animal used to your feeding will go hungry to search for food somewhere else. Without you, this animal would be foraging for food all day long and into the night, finding plots of abundant food and staying there until it is depleted. Perhaps with this in mind, you’ll more easily except the states decision to not encourage feeding the wildlife.
We, like everyone else in the winter, do feed the birds and that draws the squirrels in also. When we throw scratch feed down for the chickens, sometimes in the evening I see deer that have come in to clean up the remainders left behind, so it is easy to find yourself caught up in doing what they don’t want you to….. In a round about way, but I must admit……… there is nothing nicer than looking out and seeing your chickens eating together with the ducks, deer, squirrels and the turkeys. That’s when you know you’re living in God’s country! What do you think, Uncle Harry? There's nothing better than grabbing your morning coffee and looking out across the yard to see wildlife of all kinds, enjoying your yard as they munch and fill their stomachs on grass or acorns from under the trees, is there......whether you're in the Catskill mountains of New York or the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. How bout it?