Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘tracks in the snow

First Paths

leave a comment »

Following a new blanket of snow, the next phase could be called “first paths.” As Delilah and I emerged from the woods behind the back pasture yesterday morning, the first thing I noticed was the few very specific routes a horse or horses traveled into the smooth covering of new snow.

I wasn’t able to capture it all in a photo but took a couple of sample shots anyway.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This is one of those cases where the naked eye can absorb the full expanse of the landscape in a way the camera cannot. However, if I had a drone I’m pretty sure I could have come close.

Turning around to look back in the direction from which we had just come, you can visualize Delilah prancing along beside me as we forged each of our own ways through the deep powder.

After breakfast, I needed to finish the plowing that I had started the night before. It was both easy and difficult all at the same time. The snow was light and dry, making it easy to plow and shovel, but there was so much of it that it became difficult to manage with my little ATV plow blade.

A snowblower would have been a handy tool in this case. I have avoided that purchase decision for many years but the subject comes up more and more as we age.

To clear the areas in front of the barn and around the hay shed when there is so much snow becomes an almost endless iteration of shifting from forward to backward. I push forward with the blade overflowing, going as far as I can into the pile from the last time it was plowed, and then back up so I can make another pass beside the one just prior.

The engine revs, then pauses while the plow blade is lifted. The engine revs again as the ATV backs up. I generally don’t notice the noise because I’m focused on the task at hand but I get the feeling the sound of that on and off throttling would drive me nuts if I wasn’t the one driving.

I tend to wonder if the horses find it completely annoying but they made it pretty clear yesterday that it doesn’t bother them a bit.

While I was revving the engine over and over, Mix and Swings decided to take a little nap. Maybe the engine’s repetitive up and down droning is something they find soothing. They probably fall asleep during long car rides, too.

Speaking of first paths, if you look closely at that last shot, you see how much they’ve already pounded down the snow in the paddock while making just a few treks out into the hayfield. You can also see a skinny trail coming out of the paddock that was probably made by a neighbor cat who frequently visits.

New snow is so much fun for the vivid evidence of travel paths it exposes.

Yeah. Remind me about that next time I start whining about needing to plow and shovel it all.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 24, 2022 at 7:00 am

Circumstantial Evidence

leave a comment »

We think we know what happened, but we have no proof. Today’s tale (no pun intended) needs to begin with a preamble that will put readers in a similar state of mind to the one I was in when I arrived at the shocking scene.

It was yesterday morning and I was walking Delilah like any other day. She sniffed at the typical spots and paused to take care of nature’s call twice, per usual. Our intermediate destination was the barn, to feed and clean up after horses, so I encouraged Delilah to turn onto the trail that most quickly brought us to the path around the back pasture.

Before we reached the last turn towards the barn, Delilah startled me with an immediate lunge off the path and made three strong leaps into a thick bramble of raspberry stalks and small trees before I could lock her leash and halt her progress. Every indication from her body told me there was a critter in the vicinity as she held her “High Alert!” stance and strained against the leash.

I froze with her and did my darndest to see any hint of movement from an animal intent on escape. Nothing. It wasn’t the first time she had what I consider to be a false alarm, so I pulled her back out of there and we continued toward the barn with both of us keeping a keen eye on the trees to our left for any movement.

It was while relocating equine fecal matter that I came upon the unsettling find.

There was a large chunk of hair matching the color of Swing’s tail laying in the snow. I immediately got Cyndie’s attention and she reacted with a level of shock that aligned with my concern. Upon finding footprints in the snow by the manure pile, I told Cyndie about Delilah’s behavior just around the corner by the back pasture.

It was adding up to an image of coyote activity to us. We immediately checked Swings over for any evidence of confrontation beyond the chunk of missing tail. Nothing.

However, based on the evidence thus far, I decided to take Delilah back out and let her pursue through the trees whatever it was she sensed from before. That quickly led to another finding, uncomfortably in plain view of our house.

If you can discern what that image above is showing, you will notice an impression in the snow where an animal curled up and laid long enough to melt a little bowl, just like deer leave behind, except there were no hoof prints around. Only paw prints. And there wasn’t just the one melted circle. There were clearly two on top of the knoll and possibly two others, less defined, to the side in the trees.

That is definitely what Delilah had smelled, but the culprits had long since moved on before we passed by the first time in the early light of dawn.

Just to add an exclamation point to the drama, last night after dinner, I called Cyndie over to ask if she could hear something outside. Was it a siren in the distance or yipping coyotes? She opened the door and confirmed, “Coyotes!”

“And they are close!”

What do you think? Did a coyote take a chomp of Swings’ tail Wednesday night?

I hope at least one of them has a black eye from the impact of a hoof.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2022 at 7:00 am