eIt has been a cold and nail biting week hoping our cow "Baby" would make it through the dangerous sub zero temperatures and blowing winds before freshening. Our prayers were answered and today, as a warm and rising sun broke into a clear calm sky, Baby gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby bull! Baby has a way of 'cloning' herself and "Merphy" is no exception. Baby is a beautiful feminine faced grey cow. Her coloring comes from her father, a full blood Murray Grey. When bred to our Wagyu bull, Crab, she seems to pass on that unique Murray Grey coloring.
Nothing quite compares to an afternoon spent in the sugarbush on a bright blue January day. A thaw is in the forecast and lines need to be checked and pulled up out of the snow.
There is a spot in our sugarwoods not far from the house where you can bet the mainline will be buried this time of year. It lies just over a little knoll where the wind plays tricks with the surface of things. As usual the line has disappeared under about a foot of snow.
I walk along where the edge of the line should be hoping to hear the tell-tale 'click' of my snowshoe hitting the side of the pipe. I stop every few feet to jump in place, plunge my arm down into the snow and loosen the line. Luckily everything is tight and as I break a layer of snow the pipe 'pulls' itself out.
Among the brilliance and beauty of the crystalline trees, I cant help but feel a bit of guilt as I pounce through this thick covering of snow. As satisfying as it is to see the long black tubing emerge, I am breaking through the subnivien zone to do it.
The fierce cold and winds have formed a thick, far-reaching crust under the load of softer more recent fluff. Under this crust lies a different world dominated by the lesser prey animals of the forest. In ideal conditions they can thrive here. Mice, voles, shrews and even snowshoe hare use this vital shelter. Under the crust they are safe from biting winds, harsh conditions, and predation. Some form well used tunnels and travel in relative safety from food cache to food cache. Partridge to, can literally fly into this world below our feet, and routinely explode out of it in front of many an unsuspecting winter hiker.
Every time I break through this layer a fissure in the soft snow outlines the damage I've done. I take heart knowing there is plenty of coverage for these little animals this season, and that most of our line is up and doesn't need to be trampled over.
Mostly I stick to my path through the snow and thoroughly enjoy this chore. Here and there funny little ice shapes catch my eye as the warm sun melts them in interesting ways. By the time I head back to the house I feel satisfyingly sore in the legs, and all around joyful for the splendor of the day, and the smile that stays with me whenever a new baby comes to the farm.