Outdoors Column: It Is Cold Outside

News Flash: If you did not notice, it is cold outside. As years go by, I find cold weather to be more and more annoying. I really see no need for temperatures to be below zero. It is miserable for me to have to go outside and do anything. I can only imagine what animals think of it. Deer, horses, and cattle grow a winter coat of hair but there is a limit to how much hair they can grow. When the temperatures drop well below zero, I would think animals outdoors would be hating life as much as humans do. A couple of years ago, a deer came to the house and spent the night under the porch cuddled up to the side of the house. We did not know it was there until we saw its tracks the next morning. It was so cold outside; the dogs did not bother to chase it out.


I am not sure how turkeys survive the cold. They can only grow so many feathers, and their feet are naked. If I spent the night in a tree when it was twenty below zero with my feet clutching a branch, I would have frozen stumps instead of feet by morning. They may not enjoy it but seem to survive somehow.


If a person is putting feed out for wild birds, it is important to keep a steady supply of birdseed out during extreme weather. The birds have become dependent on the food source. Not going out to re-fill the feeders because it is too cold to breathe is not acceptable. It would be better not to start feeding in the fall than quit feeding for a few days during the time they are most stressed.


It is also important for birds and mammals to have a source of water during extremely cold weather. There are springs and open areas in creeks that deer and turkeys can find. The songbirds that hang around the house enjoy our heated dog water.


Jag, the terrier, is mostly an outside dog. That is his choice and it works well for my wife and me. He is able to guard his territory and range about unfettered. He has a water bowl with a heater in it near his dog house. I am not sure if he does not like his water at a tepid temperature or just prefers to drink out of the water bucket in the garage. He never drinks from his outside bowl which leaves the assorted birds in the yard to have access to water at all times.


Whenever the garage door opens, Jag usually runs in to say, “Hi”, get a drink, and wants back outside. With the weather turning so bitterly cold, his routine has altered somewhat. Now, if he is outside, when the garage door opens, he runs in, curls up on the pillow in the corner, and tries to look invisible. He does not even stop to say, “Hi”. I think he is afraid if anyone notices him, they will make him go back outside. When we walk by, he will close his eyes while he blends in with his pillow. If he cannot see us, we must not be able to see him.


The cold weather will not last forever. Grit your teeth and put up with the misery until better days. In the meantime, do what you can to make life easier for pets and wildlife.