Christmas is a good time of year to think about our friends, both two-legged and four-legged. When I went around the house to check the heating cables that do a good job of keeping ice dams from building up on our inadequately insulated roof, I flushed a cottontail from under a raspberry bush. He dashed under a propane tank, then under the neighbor’s shed. He’ll find plenty to eat without our help, judging from the tracks he left last night from one shrub to another. If he stays close to houses, he just might escape the great horned owls we hear hooting almost every night and the coyotes that skirt the edges of our little enclave of civilization between woods and farmland.
An ice storm makes it tough on critters that can’t get in out of the weather, and there’s a pretty good one brewing right now. This morning, we refilled the suet feeder that hangs on the dogwood in the front yard with deer tallow, and the birds wasted no time filling up on the rich stuff. Downey woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees seem to materialize out of nowhere when you fill the feeder, even if it has hung empty for days or even weeks. They must send out scouts to check the usual food sources and report back when a delivery has been made.
I found the deer tallow when I did a quick search through the kitchen freezer for lunch and dinner for us. Dug out a dozen or so unlabeled containers and found some venison round steak from the first of four roadkills we picked up this year and the last two wild turkey drumsticks. We sauteed the venison for lunch and added the drumsticks to some chicken stock for a hearty soup supper.
Some of those unlabeled containers held meat of uncertain origin and date, some cooked, some raw. Nothing we wanted to eat or feed to the cats, but something I’m sure a hungry coyote would relish, so I strapped on snowshoes and trekked out to a spot in the woods where the local coyotes will find it. No reason they shouldn’t have a treat at Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all!