I spoke with an elderly gentleman the other day. He's 87.
"Ralph, have you ever seen a winter like this in your entire life?," I asked.
"No," he replied, "but my dad told about one back in the 30s."
According to the calendar, spring officially started March 20. We all know it really started Dec. 21, though. That's usually the first day of winter, but fall pretty much blended into spring and left winter sitting on the sidelines.
So what are the effects of the lack of snow and freezing-cold weather?
Normally, the extreme cold and deep snow here in the Northeast have a detrimental effect on the wildlife. Last fall, we saw several groups of very small turkeys in September and October from late-season hatches. They don't usually survive the winter, but they did this year.
You've had to notice the huge flocks of turkeys as you drive around the countryside. They're everywhere. As far as turkey hunting this spring, it's going to be tough. The long-bearded toms have been strutting and mating for weeks already. Come May, the breeding season will have been long forgotten, making it extremely difficult to call in that big, old gobbler.
It's the same with deer. Because food is harder to find in heavy snow and every drop of energy is used to keep warm, some deer don't survive the winter. Other than those killed by automobiles or coyotes, most made it through this past winter in great shape. We easily could see a near doubling in the deer population this fall. Consequently, you'll see far more car/deer accidents, more damage to crops, gardens and shrubs, and far more deer when it comes to hunting season. We should see record deer harvests come October and November.
Non-hunters won't be spared, either. Just try sitting out in your yards this summer. If you thought the hurricanes led to an increase in the mosquito population last year, wait until you see how many of those pesky, biting insects will be around after an extremely mild winter. It should be worse than a couple of summers ago, when it rained at least four out of every seven days? Sitting outside back then was a little like going to the Red Cross to donate a pint of blood.
It's likely your pets will be plagued by more fleas and ticks as well, so get started early with the Frontline, Advantix or whatever you may use. More insects means more crop damage for farmers, too.
I know a lot of folks really liked the extremely mild winter we just had. Heating bills were down and traveling was much safer. But winter is good for the economy. Just ask the folks who live in small Adirondack towns or near ski areas. It's their livelihood.
Snow and cold are good for the ground, too. My grandfather used to say that snow is poor man's fertilizer. The nitrogen in the snow leaches into the soil and helps make everything green. He was right.
After this summer, you may be praying for a few blizzards this winter. Just sit around a campfire on the Fourth of July. You'll see.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I spoke with an elderly gentleman the other day. He's 87.
- Rick Brockway
Good old days revolved around a good old swimming hole
As I've told you many times, I grew up on the family farm outside of Laurens. During the summer, we spent many hours each day putting hay in the barn for the cows. It was hot and sweaty work, stacking the bales in the mow when temperatures were in the 90s and the humidity was about as high. But at the end of the day, we headed up the creek to a favorite spot â€" the old swimming hole.
Sometimes hungry animals just come with the territory
There's plenty to do at the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves
Have you ever been asked, "What do you want to do today?" Well, here's a great answer. Take a drive down to Cragsmoor and visit the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves and Verkeergerkill Falls.
Fireflies never cease to amaze as nature's night-lights
The other night, we were sitting around a campfire up on the hill with a group of friends. Out across the meadow, the flashing of fireflies or lightning bugs could be seen. They were everywhere. It seemed like there were millions of them. It looked like a mini-version of the Fourth of July fireworks.
Waterfalls are worth the trip
People have always been fascinated by waterfalls. They flock by the millions to see the power and beauty of Niagara Falls, but few have ever seen the highest waterfalls in the Adirondacks and maybe even in the entire state.
- Friday, June 13, 2014
Beautiful, elegant wood ducks unlike any other
I spend a lot of time on my hill overlooking the pond, my meadows and an old pasture hillside. There's always something to watch.
- Saturday, June 7, 2014
Oneonta mountain bikers finish season near the top
Last weekend, the Oneonta Composite Mountain Biking Team finished second in the New York State High School Championships.
- Friday, May 30, 2014
New app may help you, but it's not for me
I don't know how people got along years ago without a cell phone. No matter where I go, it seems everyone is on the phone. They drive with them, eat with them, talk to who knows who while shopping and, I'm sure, even use them while sitting on the toilet. What ever happened to a little privacy?
- Friday, May 23, 2014
Slide Mountain touches the sky and the soul
On Wednesday, a friend of mine and I decided to head to the Catskills and hike up Slide Mountain. The weather for a hike was perfect, with temperatures in the mid-60s and no bugs.
- Friday, May 16, 2014
You may be lost, but you'll never go hungry with these tips
As you may know by the stories I have written, I like to spend a lot of time in the woods. I almost got lost once, but I soon learned to use a map and compass, vowing that would never happen again.
- Good old days revolved around a good old swimming hole