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Winter Nesting
Published on October 25, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes about how humans and animals alike are preparing for winter.

Here's an excerpt:

"We brought a couple of fistfuls of hay inside for the rabbit last week, and instead of eating it she spent about 15 minutes constructing a tunnel to sit inside of.

My son laughed. 'Look at Willa! She looks just like Tulip!'

Tulip is the little pig who lives in a room off the chicken coop. In the fall and winter she constructs handsome tunnels out of straw to sleep in, and when she wanders outside or into the coop’s vestibule she generally has pieces of straw clinging to her back. Often she has a young hen standing on her back too, but that happens year-round. She is a comfortable pig.

And she keeps comfortable even in the winter, which she officially hates, by making her straw nests to keep out the chill.

The rabbit lives inside so she doesn’t really need a nest or a tunnel. And soon after she made one, she started eating it.

But winter is coming and the outdoor animals know it. The ox is getting his winter coat, the outdoor cat is bulking up. The chipmunks and red squirrels are digging holes into the feed pumpkins and taking out the seeds to store in some crevice somewhere for winter eating.

We’re hoarding food, too: a freezer full of summer vegetables, shelves crammed with jars of jellies and tomatoes and pickled vegetables, baskets of winter squash, onions and garlic, bags of potatoes.

Outside with the squirrels is the pile of feed pumpkins — most of them bruised, nonsaleable specimens from a friend’s farm — meant for the ox and chickens and pig to eat. Once Halloween passes, that pile will get even bigger, with leftover squashes, gourds and pumpkins from a couple of farm stands, and we’ll keep chopping them up for feed even after they freeze.

The animals are eating more now, and we’re adding extra layers of straw or pine shavings for their bedding and sealing cracks in the doors and walls of the sheds they live in.

Keeping fed and keeping warm through the winter is something people and animals have worried about for as long as there’s been winter."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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