I went down to the farm on friday as I had signed up for a beekeeping class held on the following day. A few months ago I was ecstatic to find a Beekeeping shop here in the Shenandoah Valley. WOW! Who knew the sleepy little 7,000 person town of Fishersville could pack 70 people ranging from Pennsylvania to Virginia’s southern extreme (based on my own conversations alone) into its firehouse for the fantastic beekeeping class? The instructor was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Anyone in the area should visit the shop of valleybeesupply.com or take their class or take the instructor’s 6 week class at the local community college. I feel far more comfortable and confident in taking on beekeeping.
However the morning began with troubles exiting my pasture and its persistent foot of snow. I feel many share my sentiment that the snow is wearing out its welcome but I am also a firm believer that we have complete control over ourselves and how we chose to react and learn from situations. In fact that is the basis of the name of my farm: Timshel from Steinbeck’s East of Eden. So the day ended with my outdoor adventuring friend spending the night at the farm. We took the 2WD Four-wheeling ATV out for a spin. It made it through every snowbank we put it up against while simultaneously making an easy walking path for my daily hike through the property. The nightcap for the day was provided by 3 Brothers Brewery and their porter pumped through peanut butter fudge. They had some incredible beers.
Snow is amazing as it makes apparent many things that are normally missed around the property and its forests. The following morning we hiked along the ATV tracks we had made 13 hours previously. Apparently the deer appreciated the breaking of the snow crust as hoof tracks on top of the tire tracks littered the ruts in the snow. Deer and many other animals have dug out the snow around the persimmon trees and left me with extremely useful, persimmon seed-laden scat. More on this in a future post.
Most interestingly and potentially alarmingly, we discovered tracks that seemed to belong to a very large feline creature. They were about 2 inches across and had significant drag marks where the owner of the tracks had scraped the snow with its paws in the midst of its stride. Additionally hundreds of tracks belonging to opossums, raccoons, house-cats and not quite discernable small mammals criss-crossed the forested paths. Without the snow I would have zero insight into patterns of the vast array of creatures that live in the forest.
If you are beginning to hate the snow, make it work for you. Grab an animal track book and learn about your ecosystem and bring a kid along to share the enthusiasm of identifying wildlife. Visit a park and bask in its quiet, peaceful and white-capped beauty. After all, if you are anything like me, life is much more enjoyable when the little things are appreciated and mental energy is not wasted on negativity!