Environment & Outdoors

Steve James/Flickr

So you have a shrubbery in your yard, perhaps close to the street or your driveway.

Maybe you even have an additional shrubbery, perhaps with a little path between the two.

So what do you do when the only place to plow or shovel snow is ... on your shrubbery?

Pat Matthews, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife [via Flickr]

Larry gives his phenological year-end summary.  Temperatures for the past year have been warmer than normal for every month but one. Icy snow over the last week caused difficulties for human travelers, but also for many animals living in the snow, such as the ruffed grouse and the deer.  

Steve Johnson [via Flickr, modified]

Tom Kasper reminds us in these winter months to be mindful of where we direct our slowblower jetsam. Especially with icy or heavy snow, branches can be easily damaged. 

This week on Backyard Almanac, Larry Weber details the dramatic highs and lows from this past week with a nearly 50 degree swing.  He shares the surprising fact that snow fall so far this year is average and answers a listener question about why the trees didn't drop all their leaves in fall. Listen for details about who is moving about over the snow and of course details about the Annual Christmas bird count.

"Christmas in the Trenches, 1914," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

Larry Weber says, by his reckoning, winter officially started this week.

For one thing, the rivers froze.

For another, it was -17 yesterday morning.

And of course, it was time for his favorite holiday tune.  (You can hear it after Larry's piece below)

You can read more about Christmas in the Trenches here:

You can see a music video about the event, backed with John McCutcheon's song here:

Bill Burris/Flickr

Hartley Nature Center says they're just taking advantage of the snow cover to safely burn a series of debris piles (and a little storm damage) left over from a logging operation this summer.

It's not an official park activity or anything, but the park is still open, and if you're out for a ski or a walk in the 20-below wind chills and you happen upon some folks tending a nice blazing fire ... and you happen to have some marshmallows in your pocket, well - so much the better.

Even after all these years, all the cool gadgets he's talked about on the show, a decades-long quest for an electric wheelbarrow ... master gardener Tom Kasper says there's still nothing better than giving the gift of your time to garden with someone you love.

December started off warmer than normal and a week ago, our snow was all gone.

Fast forward to today, and the snow is back plus we have temperatures below zero in the forecast for the first time this season.

Thanks to the Minnesota DNR and Laura Erickson, we're becoming more and more aware of the dangers lead shot poses to bald eagles.  But at this time of year, there's another hazard to an eagle's life and limb: our national symbol's fondness for road kill and its difficulty, especially after gorging on a meal of venison, to avoid becoming road kill itself.

Britt Rohrbaugh

Duluth is famous for its hiking and skiing trails, but the Duluth Area Horse Trail Alliance is trying to get the word out about its opportunities for horseback riding.

Only two things stand in their way at the moment: the repairs needed to the Ely Peak Loop on the Magney-Snively Trail ... and the gentle tendency of saddle clubs toward disorganization.

More information about their December event can be found here: 

Lisa Johnson

Tom Kasper says you can still get out and do your winter pruning without danger of insects or disease affecting your trees or bushes ... don't forget the tree wrap against rabbits, deer and sun scald ... and spring  bulbs are really, really cheap!

Rachel Breckenridge

UMD's Masters of Tribal Administration and Governance degree program was developed with the University taking a back seat to tribes.

And Howard Mooers laughs when he talks about it; saying that's a hard thing for a university to do.

But the University worked in response to and as a consultant with tribes in developing the program, just as it's doing now with a new masters degree program in Tribal Natural Resource Stewardship, a program which could be coming along at just the right time.

Lisa Johnson

As a heavy, wet snow descends on the Northland, Larry says November snows frequently don't last.

But then, most Novembers don't average 47 degrees for a daytime high, either.

Tom Kasper

Larry Weber likes to talk about the magical time of what he calls aut-win: the time between the leaf drop and the first snowfall.

And Tom Kasper says, while you're in your yard, taking time to smell the roses anyway (that's his shrub rose in bloom last Friday, November 11), you might as well take advantage of the good visibility to finish lopping storm-damaged branches off your trees.

Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Larry Weber says our temperatures so far in this month (the average is usually 32; so far our average is 50) are not normal.

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