Monday, October 31, 2011

Wild food for wild creatures

Walking anywhere in fall is an adventure into the natural order of things. Fall means harvest, the storing up of food for those who must survive in the wild all winter.

Many dream winter away - some people do as well, for that matter, hiding indoors, never venturing into the cold except to quickly shop for groceries and run back to the car. In some places in cities, people can be underground or under protection year round, going from apartment to mall to subway to work to entertainment to meals to home, without every breathing the air outdoors. I heard one young man declare on the radio the other day that he had never seen the stars. Imagine!

Animals on the other hand hibernate, or at least many do. Many birds migrate to where food will be plentiful and temperatures more accommodating. Those that don't, live on what nature provides.

Around my little bit of heaven, the apple trees have been full this fall. The wild grapevines as well. The tops of the spruce trees are heavy with cones, the pines similarly bend their boughs. Hawthorns have held onto the cherry red berries and the black choke cherries glisten in early morning sun or late evenings' soft glow. In the near by bush, beechnut husks litter the ground and black walnuts are so thick they roll onto the driveway and crunch under the wheels of my car.

Crows, turkeys, bluejays and other grain eating large birds scavenge the fields following the combine as it takes down the last of the flax, soy and corn. There will still be lots left under the snow for those who dig down like the turkeys do, or where the wind has scoured the fields.

Along the pathways I find partially eaten apples. Was that Bliss - who loves to scrounge under the trees for apples often picking them right off the tree to devour? Or was it a rabbit or a mouse, mole or squirrel?

There will be lots this winter for those who hang about and need to eat throughout our cold and snowy period.  Many of the trees have fruit at the top - which old-timers will tell you means a lot of snow. We'll see.

In the meantime I check along the hedgerow. Once this was an orchard, part of a farm, long ago broken into pieces, a small square hived off for the local church in which I now live, and other pieces as roads and property boundaries changed as we "progressed."

One of the most interesting things I've found is how some of these wild apple trees have grown.
If you look closely at this mass of branches decorated with a few yellow and green leaves and lots of red apples. You'll notice that there are some yellow apples too... and the branches appear to be entwined. Two trees have grown together winding around each other and the sweetest of all the wild apples come from these two trees. I wonder if its their relationship, or simply the kind of apple they are.

And so they fall - and the deer, rabbits, mice, moles and even the odd coyote if there are any left after the hunters have scourged the woods to get rid of them for the sheep farmers - will likely have enough food if the hedgerow along here is any example. And then come spring, there is always the tasty tips of apple branches to be clipped and enjoyed.

Do you see nature's ways on your walks in our great outdoors?


  1. Apples are a wonderful crop for wildlife. It's most impressive because it provides sugar which turns to fat just as winter approaches. Very important to those who have a hard time finding food in the colder months wouldn't you say?

  2. Apples seem to provide food for most wildlife as far as I can tell up here Bill. I see birds at them as well as the others, and bits of undigested apple in the scat of coyotes on occasion. Thanks for stopping by!