How Do White-Tailed Deer Change Ecosystems, Anyway?

Credit:  Robert Woeger ,  Unsplash Some facts about deer  An adult white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus , that might weigh between 100 and 150 pounds, must eat about 8-12 pounds of fresh forage every day. They eat a wide range of plants, from flowers to shrubs, to tree saplings, and in oak woodlands, acorns. All of these plants share the characteristic of a certain softness: deer lack upper front teeth, so their browsing involves a sort of mashing and tearing unlike the cutting and biting employed by many other herbivores, large and small, from rabbits to cows. It’s easy to identify deer-browsed areas, once you know the signs. Often there are browse lines at about four feet, below which everything looks as though it’s been trimmed—mature trees and bushes lack lower limbs and leaves, saplings remain stunted, if not eaten to the ground, and flowering plants have lost buds and flowers. In addition, there might be few flowering plants or shrubs, and a preponderance of grasses, sedges

Meteorological Winter


Sleeping In

I turned over my pillow and
went off to sleep again; finally I
turned over and stretched out;
the papered windows are bright,
so I know morning is here, yet
I stay in bed because my quilt
is as warm as spring;
do not stop me from being lazy!
Better to comfort me with
pleasant words; outside the cock crows
but I continue to sleep, no longer
emulating those who
attend early court.

(Imperial audiences were held before sunrise. Translation, Rewi Alley)

"Prairie" - Karen Hanmer
So wrote Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi sometime in the early 800s. I woke thinking of that poem yesterday, the first day of meteorological winter. Cold weather has finally arrived for real, and we keep our house cool, especially at night: how I love the warmth under my quilt, how loath to emerge in the chilly gray morning!

I can lie there feeling satisfied about the completion of fall garden tasks. Herbs harvested and frozen, and pesto made; a few jars of homemade jam placed on the shelf; seeds collected and saved; compost spread on the raspberry and rhubarb beds; leaves raked and either spread in the beds along the fence or composted; bean and morning glory vines pulled down and composted; one last weeding done; containers divested of their annuals (composted) and brought in the basement; the compost heap turned one last time. Other than some annual herbs cut after the first hard frost, I’ll wait until early spring to cut down anything else, so the garden looks like the season, full of russets and golds which will fade into browns and tans as winter progresses. Satisfied to let things be.

Starting out through the garden on a morning walk, I hear a downy woodpecker singing an it’s-a-good-day song, and spot it high up, traversing the rough-barked trunk of the silver maple across the alley; as I crane my head back to look, I notice two red tailed hawks higher above, heading north on business.

I give thanks for the non-human members of our biotic community who grace us with their presence; who, simply by living their lives, help make the earth a fit place to live, for themselves and for us.

Related Posts:
Blooms Day Since 1904
National Poetry Month in the Garden

Comments

Anonymous said…
I always find a treasure of some kind in your blog. You are a human part of the world that helps make it a fit place to live, too.
MRG