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On the Farm: Tracking Winter Wildlife - January 23, 2024

Situated between the hills of the Appalachian Trail and the Ten Mile River, the farm is home not only to the animals we raise, but also to abundant wildlife.  We have intentionally designed our future plans to preserve and limit disruption to the natural pathways and habitat for our wild neighbors. We built additional gates to our perimeter fencing to leave open when our cow herd is not grazing an adjacent pasture, maintaining wildlife thoroughfares for deer, coyote and black bears to pass through. While we often have the joy of seeing a flock of turkeys waddling across a pasture and eagles circling overhead, so much happens beyond our human gaze.

We often see early morning tracks left in the snow and mud, and our team wanted to learn more about how to read the signs animals leave behind. What can we interpret from the prints circling the chicken coop? What are the telltale signs between feline and canine prints? Who made this imprint? And what stories do these prints tell? 

On Tuesday morning, before the icy rain set in while there was still a dusting of fresh snow on the ground, our team set out to the northern pastures and trails to learn more about animal tracking.

Josh led the team through a few exercises, discussing animal behavior, seasonality and climate. We got into the mindset of being prey vs. predators, interpreted gait, cadence and patterns. Collectively we pieced together stories of the lived experiences of the animals that had crossed the same land just before we did, in some cases mere hours prior. We saw signs of deer, coyote, fox, field mice, bobcats, squirrels, falcons, and even otters. The imprint of a hawk wing in the snow next to a pile of feathers, where it ate a song bird. A close encounter between a coyote and a crow. We returned to our tasks for the day enlivened by our findings. Getting into the mindset of other beings helps broaden perspective, and increases our intimacy with this place we are lucky to steward. 

We are looking forward to hosting more animal tracking programs this spring and fall; make sure you are signed up for our newsletter to stay in the loop!

Want to join our team? Check out our current open positions.


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