Outdoors Column: Springtime in February

When a person is suffering through the cold dark days of winter, there is nothing better than a few days’ break when the temperature climbs and the sun shines. We had a perfect winter break during the past weekend.  My wife and I took full advantage of the situation.


Saturday morning, coffee cups in hand, we went to the porch to watch the sun rise. It was still dark but the snow geese were flying high in the starlit sky. We could hear one huge flock after another flying over. The Canada geese started honking and chasing each other as dawn began to break.  Some were taking off while others were coming in. They feel it necessary to announce their intentions loudly to the entire world.


As the sun rose, the turkeys started flying down from their roost above the dam. Six gobblers strode out of the timber and started raking leaves under the oak trees to find acorns. Two does with their last years fawns walked out into the bright sunshine to browse on buds on the young trees. The fawns were feeling so good, they could hardly stand themselves.  They ran chasing in circles and hopped around, enjoying the nice morning as much as we were.


Over coffee, we planned enough chores to do that would fill a week of good weather. One more cup and then we would get busy. We started by clearing brush that was encroaching on the yard, attempting to revert lawn into forest. Our next project was clearing thorn trees from the hillside on the far side of the lake. Oaks, walnut, and pecan trees are planted there but locust and Osage orange grow best. This is a horrible job I started last fall with a chain saw. With my son, Damon, running a skid steer with a tree sheer, more was done with less effort on my part. By late afternoon, we were still ready to call it a day. The dogs, who thought it was wonderful to have people outside doing interesting things with them all day were as tired as we were. We all gathered on the porch again to watch the sun go down, exhausted but feeling good about our accomplishments.


Sunday, we rose early again, determined to make the most of another beautiful day but found we were both too sore to get too highly motivated.  The dogs must have been a bit stiff and sore also from all their exercise as they seemed willing to lay in the sun and watch the world go by. A pair of trumpeter swans flew in to join the noisy flock of geese that were feeding on and fertilizing the beach area. The turkeys moved out across the dam feeding on the new shoots of green grass that has sprouted. From all the plans of things we thought of yesterday that desperately needed to be done, we could not think of a thing that could not wait until another day.



We did work up enough ambition to check the trail cameras. Most of the bucks in the pictures are still carrying their antlers which makes spending too much effort shed hunting rather pointless. We did get a nice picture of a bob cat on the camera closest to the house. It is fascinating to think we live this close to a 30-40 pound cat and never see it. I would imagine that is why there are times the dogs come running back to the house like something is after them.


Before long, it really will be springtime. Hopefully by then we can work at a more steady and moderate pace rather than trying to get everything done at once when we have a nice day in the middle of winter.