When I drove to town today, I saw four deer standing on the road. I stopped back a ways to let them decide what they wanted to do. Finally they turned around and jumped back through the snow, the way they’d come. They were struggling in snow up to their shoulders. I’ve heard some areas have starving deer because of that, and the cold weather we experienced earlier. So I’m glad to come home and see “our” deer standing by the storage barn, waiting for their lunch of corn. They also munch hay in our hay yard. We don’t begrudge them a mouthful. I’m hoping the warmer weather we’re experiencing now (mid 20’s) will last awhile — I know we sure appreciate it.

When I got home from town, the deer were waiting for their lunch.
On my way out to feed “our” deer.

This afternoon, Will is going to be loading our last Angus steer into the trailer to go to the processing plant. He’s a beautiful animal and will make wonderful meat for those who have purchased halves and quarters. (If you’d like to learn more about meat for the homestead, check out my article of the same name in Issue #137 of Backwoods Home Magazine or the Twenty-Third Year Anthology, as well as my more recent article “Raising your own beef” in Backwoods Home Magazine, Issue #175) We won’t be having any more steers to butcher until next winter. I always feel sad when we load one of our steers, just like I do after shooting a deer during hunting season. But we sure appreciate having the meat! — Jackie


  1. I know how you feel when it comes time to butcher. We have a half angus-white face that my husband will be butchering in a few weeks. We do all our own butchering, so when it’s time I usually find somewhere to go for a bit. This steer thinks he’s a dog and will follow me anywhere, but like you said you have to be grateful for the meat.

    • So true. I even hate butchering chickens. Will does the “deed”, then I’m fine with the rest. Weird, huh? But then I have a hard time thinning carrots too.

  2. I probably shouldn’t say this but we are not being hammered here in west central Maine. We do have snow but I still have a large-ish patch of leaf covered ground under a pine tree. I feel sorry for the folks in Newfoundland!

    • Sheryl, my daughter and SIL live in west central ME. I hope the good weather holds as we are driving out in Feb for a new grandson!

  3. I know what you mean about the snow. My husband and I went for a walk yesterday and saw three deer trying to jump the pasture fence. The first one bounced off the top wire and landed on it’s rear. Second time it got over, but did loose a chunk of fur. We are running out of room to put snow by the house. If we have to take it off the roof again it might be hard to see out some of the windows! Oh well this to shall melt(someday).

  4. We believe it’s important to feed the wildlife as well. We’ve added extra fruit and nut trees and leave our vegetable and flower garden in place through winter. Every little bit helps! I keep my bird feeders filled with sunflower seeds and hand dried corn cobs for the squirrels. Deer visit our ponds and occasionally the salt blocks out in our pastures.

  5. I too put food out for the wildlife. Unless the snow gets really deep, most deer prefer to dine in the fields. But I do occasionally see them near our feeders (have a mineral block in one of them) and the water bowls I heat all winter. We keep some of our trails plowed, making it a bit easier for the wildlife. It is important to maintain the proper balance of wildlife. However I will admit I don’t get upset when a raccoon becomes a meal for the coyotes.

    • I agree it is important to maintain a balance in wildlife. But I don’t feel guilty helping some of them out from time to time. We’ve noticed the deer in our area come out of the woods, just to walk on our plowed driveway. Think what a relief it must be.

      • I don’t feel guilty either. Come spring/summer/fall, the wildlife consume bugs (and ticks!), mosquitoes, and weed seeds. And no way we could ever harvest/consume all the nuts that fall. Those who have nut trees, especially hickory/walnut know that it can be like walking on marbles (not to mention getting bonked on the head as they fall!).

  6. Always love seeing your smile, Jackie! We are wet, wet, wet here in the PNW, plenty of mud to deal with. Our dog won’t let deer (or coyotes) near to our home, but with hundreds of acres of woods next door, I don’t much worry about them finding food and shelter. We do like feeding the birds over winter, though!

  7. It can be hard on a LOT of wildlife. After the three bad winters we had here in the late 70’s, most of the squirrels died off. The greys came back in a few years, but it took the fox squirrels 20 years to get back to their old levels.

    • Wow, twenty years is a long time. But then in the old homestead days, elk roamed throughout much of the country, from Michigan, Wisconsin south and up into Minnesota. Hungry people shot them all and they’ve never rebounded. Sometimes done is done.

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