The bite of the first wood tick and a glimpse of new red fox kits were clear signs of Spring on the Bluecircle this week. Patches of fleshless groundhog fur and a fresh limb in the middle of the farm showed the young were being nourished by their ever-watchful mother.
Few rabbits have survived the fox’s nightly inspection of the woods and hillsides. The groundhogs have not been spared but are not missed since their excavated mounds and burrow openings can sink an ankle or a wheel.
Threads of green are restoring color to the field but for a few more weeks the dead grass and leaves will provide scant cover for our hungry mother’s prey.
The advent of Spring at the Bluecircle brings its share of surprises, from a (? last) burst of lake-effect snow to an outbreak of small tornadoes and nightly visits from a portly skunk. Meanwhile, the greening of buds and grasses proceeds. A new batch of hybrid poplar cuttings rests in the greenhouse and awaits more sun and fewer frigid nights. The first bare-root trees of the year are planted and today’s soaking rains are just what they needed to settle in their new rows.
The Bluecircle hens have agreed that Winter is over and egg production is back to normal. They are happy that most of the coop window covers were removed to restore their view of the big world. Fortunately the red fox of the Woodland Conservancy who brought a feathered chicken dinner home as “take out” last week enjoyed his meal a few hundred feet beyond their coop. Now the winds of March have scattered the feathers of this unfortunate prey.
Spring tree planting was in full swing this weekend. Tulip poplar, chinquapin oak and maple leaf virburnum seedlings from the Berrien County Conservation District found their places on a grassy slope facing N. Watervliet road. The work was closely supervised by our resident vixen who recently brought at least 7 kits out to play. Determining the exact number of little ones is challenging because they’re always in motion, but thanks to my neighbor’s photographic and observational skills we get incredible close-ups and updates on the pack. The leafing-out of underbrush and spring grasses will soon hide the kits and their den.
Four o’clock sun across the lake remains cold to the skin, but warms and softens the glint of still more lake effect powder. When airy flakes fall without wind they drape the landscape and blur the fox’s footprints. They hide the broken remains of successful hunts – feathers scattered from a daylight hawk’s raid and a pair of naked rabbit shins from the red fox’s feast. The ghostly evidence will soon emerge from a cemetery of melting drifts and blend quickly into the browns and fresh greens of promised Spring.