Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The End of the Gardening Season

 I have done my last harvest of the season. It is always hard to tell when that will be. Mild wet weather can mean the fall greens go on and on and conversely an early hard frost can bring an abrupt and unanticipated halt. This year things have certainly slowed down the past few weeks but the season has really lasted a long time.  I have missed working as intensively outside as the weather has cooled. But there have been greens to harvest and manure to spread and so fall has really just eased into winter.

With the cold and snow comes the opportunity and time for leisurely walks and other activities.

Wild turkeys had almost disappeared because of habitat loss but were reintroduced about twenty years ago. They are now thriving in Central and Eastern Ontario. Some farmers consider them a menace to their crops and are calling for a cull. But the Ministry of Natural Resources maintains that they only eat what has already fallen to the ground. A cull would also inevitably include hens which would endanger them once again.
An impressive flock of wild turkeys 
There is really much to be enjoyed in the woods this time of year: the particular kind of silence (especially now that there is a lull in hunting season) that allows you to hear the snow falling, the thick layer of fallen leaves underfoot, the silhouette of hardwoods stripped bare. Except for the beeches, whose understated tan leaves can't compete during the riot of colour earlier in the autumn, but now punctuate the monochrome of the woods.

There are outcroppings of granite bedrock with ferns and even trees growing in the  crevices between boulders.

Trees well used by sapsackers are more easily noticed .

Also, unfortunately, are examples of "witch's broom",  an indication of stress in trees and woody shrubs.  It is easily recognized as a mass of shoots originating from a single point which resembles a witch's broom. The cause can be environmental or biological.
Witches' broom
But the really exciting and heartening sighting on Sunday was a river otter. In the low light I didn't even realize at first what it was.  Once I realized it was an otter I was amazed at how close it allowed me to get before plunging into the water. I decided to carry on walking and see if I could see it again later on my return home.

As I ventured further in to the woods I came across the remains of an old sugaring operation.

The support for the stove trays for boiling off the syrup rests on the cast  iron doors.
The stack of wood to fuel the fire looks more like a rock outcropping at first glance

On my way back I swung by the creek and sure enough the otter was back up on the ice at the same spot. It would be nice to think that this watershed is a permanent home to a family of river otters.
A curious river otter

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Love the river otter pics!
    Scylla looking good too!