Welcome to January everyone… it seems that our weather has really on a yo-yo lately which makes it hard to know what to plan for, bitter cold or unseasonably warm. Whatever it is, it’s great to be out and about and enjoy our surroundings. Last weekend I brought a load of firewood up and stacked it on the deck just outside my front door and with the forecast this weekend, I think I might need to bring up some more! I also have another pile that needs to be split, so if anyone has extra time and needs something to do, I’ll send you directions.
Things are pretty quiet for most of my farmer neighbors. Many are working on getting their tax information together so they can complete that. I had one friend with a flock of sheep that mentioned they just started lambing. I always thought baby lambs were kind of like kids… they’re so cute when they’re little, then they grow up! Another neighbor hasn’t started calving yet, but said he expected his first calves before the end of January.
Otherwise it’s a quiet time on the farm. I asked my coworker who is a farmer’s wife what her husband was doing and she offered a few other things. Farmers with livestock have chores every day… attending meetings to learn new concepts on how they can improve their farming operation… odd jobs that get put off such as organizing the shed or cutting trees out of road ditches… and my favorite, trying to decide if their planter will make it through another season!
Things have been pretty quiet on my acreage, too. I mentioned my firewood detail earlier. Otherwise it seems like I don’t get a lot done out there with my job in town and its dark when I leave in the morning and a lot of times its dark when I get home in the evening. It seems like the only things I get done is feed the critters… 1 dog, 3 cats, and a “whole herd” of different kinds of birds in my back yard.
I recently read an interesting article on feeding birds. If you’d like to see it, click on https://go.unl.edu/feedingbirds. It had a lot of interesting information in it. One thing that really surprised me is the size of the bird feeding industry, estimated to be over $4 billion dollars in the U.S. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised because I think I significantly contribute to that total!
If you’re feeding birds, one of the most important things to remember is once you start, especially during the winter when other food sources might be scarce, is to not quit. If birds become dependent on your feeders as their main source of food and then you quit, this could weaken or starve some of the birds you are trying to help.
Another important consideration is to provide an adequate source of water if possible. I have two bird baths that I use year round. Both have heaters in them to prevent them from freezing and damaging the bird bath in the winter. The first one has the bath portion on a pedestal like you would normally think of a bird bath. The second one is just the basin sitting in a wooden frame on the ground. This is great for ground feeding birds as well as rabbits, squirrels and whatever other critters walk along and need a drink.
If you are really an avid birdwatcher, I’d encourage you to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at www.birds.cornell.edu. They have two programs you might be interested in, Project FeederWatch which is an ongoing project, and the Great Backyard Bird Count which is a global event on February 15-18, 2019.
Well, that’s enough about the birds. I hope everyone survives the wintry blast predicted for this weekend, has a great winter, and remember there is hope… the days are getting longer and warmer and spring is just around the corner. But even this time of year can be a great time to get outside and have some fun on your acreage.