Sunday, January 25, 2015

Photo Ops Compromised by Weather?

Many U.S. readers East of where I live, won't agree, but the February weather forecast for my area doesn't look good. Firstly, I like winter, with snow and cheek-nipping cold. Secondly, I have events noted on may calendar that will provide nice photo ops—Really good photo ops if there is a Winter environment and the events aren't compromised by the weather.
Forecast as of 25 January
Over in near Pintler mountains (140 miles one way), on the other side of the Continental Divide, a Skijoring competition will be held near at the saddle club near Anaconda. That's on the 7-8 of Feb; I'm debating about going to that. 

2014 start in Lincoln
I intend to go to the pre-start commemorative run of the 30th Annual Race to the Sky out at Rimini (30 miles one way). It will be on the 13th of February. Because of the warm temps, the mushers might have the doggies pulling four-wheelers rather than sleds.

The official start of the race is the next day in Lincoln. It is often colder in Lincoln, up in the heart of the Divide. I was there last year, leaving a 40 degree Helena to arrive in Lincoln (30 miles one way) with temps in the 20s, ten to twelve inches of snow, and a steady, bracing 30mph wind.  

2013 Skijoring at WinterFest
This year, I've decided to venture to Bozeman (110 miles one way) for the Wild West Winter Fest. It's the same day as the Official start of the sled dog race. In Bozeman, they'll have a variety of livestock exhibits, bunny races, hockey and skijoring, along with a breeders horse show and sale (indoors). Bozeman has a bit more altitude than Helena, and is usually colder, although a glance at the long-range forecast shows it will be about the same as in the above chart. Yuk. All in all, I'm not happy with the weather forecast, but I'll make my trips and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Home Work

I thought today wouldn't be so bad to work outside. My aging horse (he'll be 29 this March) is internally and mentally fine, but his sight is going, and his hearing is not so good. So he's been running into fence lines and even getting out onto the road. So I figured today would be a good day to do repair work, since the temp was in the 20s and not the single digits.  

As you can see by the weather map, wind was to be 1 - 4 mph. But Nooo. It was 12 - 15mph with gusts into the 20s. Brrr.  

I completed some of the essential repairs, and tomorrow is suppose to be warmer (after another 4 inches of snow). Maybe I'll get the work finished them.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Remembering Streak: A Snowshoe Hare

Two weeks ago I went to brush snow off of the solar panel for my electric fencer, and a whitish blob sprang up and away from the sawhorse on which I keep the fencer. A hare! It leisurely bounce up the yard and I smiled, thinking of Streak.

Streak was a hare and my first acquaintance when I moved up here from town. She slept under the fencer sawhorse, too, but didn't bound away when I came close. She was probably a couple of years old when I first noticed her, one of three hares I knew lived on my 20 acres. Most of them have a line of white from between their ears to their shoulders even in the summer. Streak's white extended down farther.
Not long after I observed this, she showed up in the yard with a livid hairless slash down her back probably from where she'd dashed under a low object to escape and aggressive fox or hawk. It took that a while to heal and caused the hair to grow a bit dark and angled. The white mark and the scar led me to call her Streak.

Streak didn't mind that I had shown up with a dog and two horses. She considered the yard area by the house her territory, whereas the other two hares were much farther down toward the end of the property. Many times I'd walk to the paddock and she would be a few feet off my path, just sitting. I'd say "Hiya Streak." She didn't bolt or move.
My dog didn't chase animals, so she had no worries there.

Although I think she might have enjoyed a bit of chase. I watched her once tease a yearling fox. Streak was bigger than this little fox, and when he caught scent of her, she just watched him start his dash toward her. When he was about three fox lengths away she lifted off. Boing! she was twelve feet beyond him in one bounce, and she sat and waited again for him to approach. After three more of these leaps, the fox gave up, tongue lolling. Not long after red fox left, Streak took up her usual place near the paddock.

In the beastly hot summer of 2006, Streak would stretch out under the pine trees, legs splayed, her belly on the cool grass. That year she also took to drinking out of the bird bath. In the fall, her coat changed from brown to white, sometimes in a couple of days if we had a 2-3 day cold snap.
One spring, the weather had her coat changing back from white to brown when we got a sudden dump of heavy wet snow. Streak didn't get to cover and looked a bit perturbed.
The only problem with Streak came when she had babies that thought the emerging tulips would yield good meals. They dug up several rows of bulbs. I managed to replant some and set barriers against their rooting around. Two years running, Streak had 3 or 4 babies in late spring. Both years when they were in my front yard, I'd see one of them take off like it was being chased, dash down into the pasture, across the wash, up the hill to the fence, along the fence, back down and rush into the yard. As soon as it arrived, another one would take off and run the same course. Really funny. I thought of it as the bunny Olympics.

In the winter I can tell the types of animals that roam by the tracks in the snow. There have always been tracks of hares, although since Streak departed four years ago most seem to be passing through and not inclined to live up near the house. The floppy-eared critter I startled from under the fencer has been there several times since, and I've seen signs that it (she? he?) is taking shelter under my front deck. I hope it will decide to stay around.