One thing I love about the snow is how it reveals the lives of our animal neighbors. Here is a squirrel highway, a path between two mounds. Now, I had actually helped to create that path the day before, before the snow. The day before that, Margy got a call from a local arborist that he had some wood chips we could have. For permaculture gardeners, wood chips are a boon, especially hardwood chips, especially lamial hardwood chips, which are from the small branches and leaves of the tree. They provide nutrients to help create the kind of soil that is best for fruit trees.
It seems ironic, because I don’t want trees to be cut down. But there is a circle of giving and receiving we humans have with trees, and when they are cut down, it feels so respectful to use their remains to feed other young trees and plants. It had been a difficult year to get any wood chips. The arborists we knew were mostly cutting diseased trees, which wouldn’t be good to introduce to the garden. So when Margy got the call, she said yes right away.
So the wood chips were delivered. The next day I noticed that where the big pile landed had kind of blocked off the pathway on the edge of the food forest. Last winter, I had strung a small string across the edges of the food forest as a gentle deterrent to deer who might possibly wander through. We had seen deer tracks before, though we didn’t actually see any last winter. But the idea was to leave one area free for them to traverse, hoping they’d choose that path on the way between the street and the back of the yard.
So what to do? I went out with a shovel and cleared an area between the wood chip pile and the finished compost pile (covered with a blue tarp), shoveling compost back a little, and wood chips back a little. That made the path. I don’t know if any deer will use it, but it was fun to see that the squirrels got the message.