Never have I seen a winter like this, although last year's was close. When I began this column on Thursday the 16th, the temperature was 42 degrees. During the week, it hit 50.
This makes three straight years of mild winters. The result is that vastly more young deer, meaning that spring's fawns, are surviving the winters.
I'm no expert, but I worry that sooner or later a hard winter is going to come along, and there'll be a massive die-off in the yards.
What to do? Remove the bucks-only restriction for a season or two, until we can see whether the weather settles down.
The popular media's latest gimmick of naming winter storms, as with hurricanes, has weather gurus and the history-minded in a tizzy. But it's nothing more than another example of how neurotic society has become about the weather. The electronic media and television in particular feed on this, and the viewers feed on it right back. It is a symbiotic relation, sort of a perpetual whirligig.
I'm lucky to be able to push snow around if I have to and go where I need to go, and the weather be damned. I have a tractor and four of the best winter treads, with studs, on my truck. Commuters have a much tougher go of it, and I fully realize their need to stay informed on the weather, in a way just like farmers trying to make hay (been there, done that).
But really - Snow Storm Winter Weather Watch Teams and dire white-knuckle reports on a few inches of snow?
As for predictions, just watching which way the smoke from my outdoor furnace is going pretty much tells it all.
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We need a wood splitter at my remote camp, and I found one through the classifieds. Now to get it in.
The last time this kind of saga took place it involved a very heavy airtight stove to replace the old box stove, which was, to put it mildly, wheezing along, and despite frequent patching with furnace cement and bolt-held washers was anything but air-tight, and an errant spark was a growing concern.
The only time we can get anything this heavy in (everything else goes in on our backs) is when the snow-pack settles in March, and we can get to the pond without our snowmachines and freight-sleds getting buried and can cross the pond and up the hill to camp. Somehow this makes me think of Hannibal and the Alps and elephants, the other thought being "Why do we do this?"
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The splitter came from a logger and scrap-metal dealer in West Milan. We got to talking about various ways to log, and I said that I'd logged my land 20 years ago with an eye toward vigorous new growth and being able to go back and do it all over again 20 years later, which I'm doing.
He opined that logging that way is just like thinning radishes and carrots in your garden, and I said, "Exactly."
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Parents and grandparents, mark your calendars for Feb. 7 and 8 for the annual Farm and Forest Exposition at the Center of NH-Radisson in Manchester.
Have your kids never actually been up close to farm animals, let alone actually petted one?
Well, the Farm and Forest is the place to go. I'm not really sure how they pull it off, but organizers and exhibitors and related equipment dealers somehow manage to get everything from small tractors, fencing equipment, small (and a few large) animals, hay, grain and sawdust, and everything from retail booths to educational displays to live honeybees into the Radisson's exhibition hall.
It's a decidedly family-friendly event, and I'm always amazed at what new stuff and new ideas you can pick up there.
And the crowd, from all over the state, is sort of a great big family reunion.
Yet this somehow remains the stealth event surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people in the southern tier who somehow know nothing about it and are lock-stepping to yet another shopping mall. Clip this out, get more details at www.nhfarmandforestexpo.org, grab the kids, and go.
John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook, NH 03576, or firstname.lastname@example.org