Winter always seems to be the time a year when you look out your window and think, “Ugh, there is nothing out there but cold!” It’s the time of year when most of us are tired of the gray sky and short days, while we desperately await the arrival of warmth and greenery.
However, what if the barren landscape you think you see is actually a perfect time of year to learn more about your environment. Instead of shutting your eyes and going into full hibernation mode, stay curious and ask yourself, “What’s going on out there?” Here are some ideas on how to stay engaged with nature, even during the toughest and seemingly bleakest time of the year.
Winter is an excellent time to study trees! Take some time to sketch silhouettes of different types of evergreens and deciduous trees. This practice will help you focus more on general shapes of each species and help sharpen those identification skills by learning what makes each tree type distinctive. Specifically focusing on tree bark patterns is another great winter activity for becoming tree identification experts. How does pine tree bark compare to oak tree bark? What about birch bark? If you are not sure what tree species you are observing, sketch it anyway! Include as many details as you can and research it later.
Winter is also a great time to learn more about the native animals that are living near your home. Record the different animals you see throughout the winter, which one sleep some of the time, or which animals may be hibernating. Come to Sheep Pasture and look for evidence of animal activity, whether that may be tracks in the snow or cracked open seeds that were left behind. Challenge yourself and your kids to write a creative story from just those tracks or seeds that were found!
Position a bird feeder outside a window and get yourself a backyard birder field guide. Take some time to sketch your avian visitors and become an expert on the birds that stay here during the winter. You could even make your very own bird seed treats to hang around the backyard to attract blue jays, cardinals, juncos, nuthatches, woodpeckers, robins, and much more! For some fun and easy recipes for the whole family, visit http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,peanut_butter_bird_seed,FF.html, or simply search “homemade bird feed recipes”!
If you are looking for more ideas for not only discovering your winter world but gaining a wider appreciation of nature throughout the entire year, pick up a copy of Keeping A Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth. This book is full of creative assignments and tips for different sketching techniques and keeping a nature journal. So get your hands on a notebook and look out your window, explore your backyard, or come on down to Sheep Pasture! Let the wonders of winter begin!!!
Winter wonderland for your pets
With the cold weather approaching you want to make sure your furry friends are safe and properly cared for. Winter time can be very stressful for all animals, whether they live indoors or outdoors. Remember that the winter weather affects animals in many different ways. The following are a few tips to help your pets stay happy and healthy this winter.
Baby It's Cold Outside
As the temperature starts to drop, and the snow and freezing rain arrives, we have some nifty pet practices that are sure to help keep those furry friends healthy. Please make sure that your pets are safely indoors during the harsh weather, and those animals that live outdoors have a safe and warm covered place to protect them from the elements. For those dogs that are living outside, a four-sided house with a flap over the door and plenty of hay/straw as bedding to stay warm will do.
For happy house pets that are living indoors, remember they do need to be warm while outside for walks and play. Some thin coat dogs could use a fashionable sweater or jacket to help keep their bodies warm. Also with the shorter days, you can keep them safe by putting a reflective vest on your pet during early mornings and evenings.
For Pawrific Time of Year
When walking during the winter months, remember that street salt is a dog’s worst enemy and can cause drying out and cracking of their paw pads. Dogs' paws should be wiped down and cleaned of all salt after every walk. You can even buy winter boots for your dog!
Dashing Through the Snow
During winter there is ice on the road, and salt or other de-icing chemicals may be used. These chemicals are a hazardous to pets, so never let your pet drink from roadside puddles, and make sure you rinse and dry feet and other body parts when you return from outside.
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
Fall and winter is also the beginning of hunting season! With so many beautiful walking trails passing through scenic woodlands, you are going to run into many hunters. Having your dog dressed with a fashionable reflective vest during these seasons, hunters will be able to identify the difference between Bambi and your pet while out on that stroll.
The Hounds of Winter
Winter Quick Tips:
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