Thursday, January 24, 2008


High: 12° F
Low: -7° F
Conditions: partly cloudy with occasional light

This time of year, caninaturalism requires a lot of excavation. That’s good news for a husky mix like Ari, since the husky part of her heritage is (in)famous for their digging prowess. But lately, someone or something has beaten Ari to the punch:

Across the fields and meadows around our house, we’ve been noticing what archeologists call test pit sites: small sample cores taken to see what lies below. In this case, what lies is overwintered grass: not quite as nutritious as hay, a little bit better than straw.

And judging by the tracks around these sites, they are becoming increasingly interesting for our neighborhood deer. Given a choice, whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) prefer to subsist on Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) this time of year.

It has a higher nutritional content and better calorie ratio for the winter months. Plus, no digging is required. So why are the deer suddenly so interested in our terrestrial frozen food section?

Ari and I set out this afternoon to visit the cedar bog in the woods behind our house, hoping we could discover what’s up. The caninaturalist found the main deer path right away.

And then reveled in her discovery.

By the time we made it to the cedar bog, the reason for our deer’s shift in dining habits was clear: there are no more cedar boughs within reach.

I’m 5’8” on a good day. As this amateurish self-portrait shows, the cedar boughs are stripped clean to a spot somewhere just over my head: too tall for most deer to reach. So instead of the characteristic, scaly green boughs, what exists at deer-eye level is this:
Even less nutritional value than the grass. This isn’t good, either for the hungry deer or the damaged trees.

Late winter is a lean time for most animals, especially in the boreal forest. I’ll close today, then, with a recipe for Ari’s favorite dog biscuit recipe. Not much consolation for foraging wildlife, but a great way to tell your dogs you love them.

Ari’s Oat Biscuits
1 cup flour (I use whole grain spelt or brown rice flour)
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
Dash of honey

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add molasses, butter, 2 tablespoons oil, and ¾ cup water. Stir well, then turn out on a well-floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes, then roll into a thick round. Cut biscuits and layer on baking stone. Mix remaining 1 tablespoon oil with dash of honey. Brush on biscuits. Cook at 350° F for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool and harden before storing.


Khyra The Siberian Husky said...


I might just have to khlaw my human to make something fur ME this weekend - thanks for the recipe!!

I WUV the Ari-Roll shot!!!

Stay warm!!!!

Wags and Wuv,

powder-puff said...

Hey Ari!!

Once again all those pictures are amazing, especially the rolling Ari picture!!

OOOOOO and a new recipe for me to try out, sounds delicous!!

lots of love!

peace out

Ferndoggle said...

Ari looks happy as a clam rolling around in the snow! I make all of my own dog treats & those look exceptionally yummy. Penny would go nuts for them...she's a PB-aholic.


JB's Big World said...

Hi Kathryn and Ari,
Thanks for visiting me! I like your blog. It looks like Ari found a wonderful home, and enjoys life. I don't know if I would like the snow so toes feel better when they are warm!
I will come by again and hope to see you again too!

The Army of Four said...

Wowzers, does it look bee-roo-tiful there! I've only seen deers a couple of times; I froze and stared at them!
I hope my mom will make those cookies for me! They sound GREAT! Thanks for the recipe!
Play bows,

Flourgirl said...

Ari is really beautiful and I enjoyed your site. I'll visit again soon.

Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrr Ari
I have taged you go to my blog to find out Harrrr.
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

Marigold said...

I must say, I am very disappointed that the cookie recipe does not contain Peanuts in any way, shape or form. Still, I guess it is okay for a dog. Interestingly enough, in WA we have Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) many things they call 'cedar'...Oy...Anyway, the deer like them, but Goats LOVE them - especially in the winter! I feel somewhat odd, since I am the only goat reading your blog amongst a bevy of canines. Who knew?

Marigold said...

Oy! What have I said?! My bad. Somehow my acute goatly eyesight missed the Peanut Butter! I actually believe goats might like these cookies as well as dogs! I'm sending the goatmother to the store RIGHT NOW!

Katherine and Pippa, said...

Snow and archaeology. I am totally confused. In three years of studying at university the two words were never combined!


Britt-Arnhild said...

Beautiful photos.

Gus and Louie said...

You have a beautiful backyard to play in with lots of interesting wildlife. We never see deer here in Texas if we did I am told they are no bigger than dogs.. Enjoy...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

amkuhl said...

Couldn't you pull some of those boughs DOWN for the deer? You know, enable them a little? I don't understand you nature types;)
Ari is totally grinning in the rolling picture!

The cookies sound delicious...
Hope to see you and Ari again soon!

Lorenza said...

Hi, Ari!
I love that picture of you rolling on the snow!
Thanks for sharing the recipe. My mom is going to copy it and try to make them when my vet says its ok for me to have treats!
Have a great weekend

diane said...

Hello! Love the picture of the nose in the snow! Ari always looks like she's having fun.

Rusty said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog! It looks like you're having fun in the snow. I wish we could have some snow here. Oh well. Mom says you are a pretty dog. Don't get any ideas, she still likes me best.

Cody, THE Fussy Pot Pants said...

Snow... What's it like? I don't think I ever get to see it ever.

I also doubt i will ever get to see a cedar, or a deer or anything else that lives in the temperate.


Cody, THE Fussypot Pants

Blue said...

Wonderful shots & such a contrast to my world & the photo's I posted today.
Particularly loved Ari excavating!


Bonnie said...

I'm with Cody: snow? qu'est-ce que c'est que ca? Today in southern CA it's all about weeding the weeds, which are growing like themselves, and hanging the laundry out in the sun. But I'm happy to hear that there are other ways to enjoy the outdoors!

The Daily Echo said...

Oh you look so gloriously happy rolling in that snow - that wonderful, glistening, white snow. Can you send some to us here in snow-less PA? We want PILES!

Turbo the Sibe said...

I will be posting of my visit with Mr. P. Bunyan later this week. Thanks!

Kapp pack said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe! We will have to claw mom into trying it!

Woo woo, Kelsey Ann

Amici said...

You and Ari look so content in the woods. That isn't very good news about the trees. Geesh.

That recipe looks good. I'll have to get my human to bake it. Thank-you for posting it.

And, as others have posted, the pic of Ari rolling in the snow is priceless. :)

Holly said...

What fun!! Digging, and rolling in the snow!

The poor deer! It sure is a hard time for them.


Dmitri said...

Ari looks like a hard worker and good excavator, until she takes those rolling breaks. Or is that part of the archaeological technique? Great self-portrait, too. Your expression is as lovely and happy as Ari herself. What an expedition team you two make.

Sam I Am said...

Nice blog you have here. Brilliant layout.thank you for stopping by and sharing..

Lot's of Lick's