I have been in Canada for 7 months now, and thanks to a painfully slow immigration process full of, ahem, process errors, I’ve had the privilege of spending a lot of time on the farm. I love watching the land change with the seasons (fall, winter and now spring) and witnessing the beauty of the land and the creatures who share it with us daily. Coming from Alaska, I am no stranger to living among spectacular wildlife, but never where it’s been this personal. We get to be a part of and share in a an ecosystem that has been here for many years, and it seems to be a very healthy ecosystem at that.
One of my favorite days of exploring was after a big snow on a warm sunny day. The dogs and I walked down to the lower fields and found every kind of animal sign imaginable. There were small tracks, medium tracks, itty-bitty tracks, bird hunting wing tracks, ginormous size-of-my hand tracks, it was beautiful. Brought a smile to this Alaskan girls face for sure. The dogs were going crazy with all the smells too! It was awesome to add our own tracks to the biodiversity of our land, and learn about what animal creates each type of track and pattern.
It amazes me how much activity goes on around our small parcel of 160 acres, especially since we are stewards of over 1,000 acres total. Our 1/4 section is part of a much larger acreage purchased by Clay’s grandfather in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Now, there are four groups of land owners which include us, Clay’s parents, aunt’s and uncle’s. We are the only ones living down here, which lets us provide stewardship over the entire acreage. It’s pretty awesome, just like Braveheart. Except without the whole war thing.
Anyway, we truly enjoy exploring and checking in on the happenings of the land. My daily ski’s this winter were never boring and my new favorite hobby is following game trails wherever they may lead. I ran across my first predator kill site and had fun investigating the possible assailants (with help from my favorite conservation officer). I think it’s important to know what to be aware of when we are out and about, especially with our “city dogs”. Summertime should prove interesting… we’re taking bets on who finds the first porcupine.
Recently, I bought Clay a trail cam for Valentine’s day. This came closely after I found all of those wolf tracks. We thought it would be a good idea to really watch what happens when we’re not present. The setup of the camera has been tricky and we’ve had to play with positioning, height and location. Last week I found a sweet spot on a trail overlooking the river as we captured two types of deer and our elk herd in one 24 hour period! We borrowed a second cam (thanks Robin!) to be able to widen our scope area.
Checking the game cams has proved to be exciting as well and we enjoy our nightly hikes down. Both are now located about 1/2 mile below our house, with about a 1/2 mile in between them. Last night we spotted 24 mule deer and 5 whitetails on our property just hiking down to check the cams. All within a span of an hour. Our “city dog” Wyatt found a herd of 13 of them before we did, and I tell you, I’ve never seen him run so fast in his life. You’d never know he had a bad hip and two major surgeries… well at least not until he plays it up around meal time. He didn’t get very close, and he definitely didn’t let that pesky barbed wire fence stand in his way of chasing off the intruders. I think we may need to work on someone’s manners before we get the horses.