Our vision for the Herland Forest natural burial ground involves creating a diverse range of plants, bushes and trees that will nourish the birds, bees and animals that make their home there. On occasion, we catch glimpses of the animals that come to the forest for nourishment, but they’re shy and often avoid people.
But when snow comes to Herland Forest, we get to see their foot prints and take a sort of inventory of who’s out there, where they’re going and what they’re doing. In the above pic, that’s a rabbit track in the center, surrounded by some deer tracks. I was able to take these pics right after the first sprinkling of snow which worked out well because the dusting of snow created a contrast which allowed the tracks to show up in the pictures.
The snow also records the passing of coyotes out hunting for mice and squirrels. We frequently hear them singing in the night, but snow time is about the only time we get to see tangible evidence of their passing.
This snowfall showed the expected evidence of the usual denizens of the Herland Forest, but one set of tracks was unexpected.
Even as the coyotes hunt the squirrels, there are other predators out there hunting the coyotes. I placed my iPhone next to this track to help convey the scale of what appears to be a cougar print. As you can see from the iPhone, that’s one big cat print.
Our goats enjoy figuring how to get out of their pens to go on a walk-about. But between the coyotes and the cougars, towards the end of the day our goats are happy to head for the barn. They know that there are things out there that like goats, so they prefer to overnight where the people are.
It’s mid-January, and winter is just getting started, so the ground’s not frozen yet. That allows us to continue the process of preparing more graves in among the trees. We want to make sure that even in February when the ground is frozen, families that want to lay a loved one to rest in the Herland Forest have a variety of locations to choose from.