Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Winter prep already started

link Sharna Johnson

Local columnist

Maybe it’s hard to imagine snow when it feels like spring outside, but don’t be fooled, wild critters large and small are on the move this time of year and winter preparations are in full swing, despite the illusion that balmy is here to stay.

Responding to an internal clock, some of the birds we enjoyed through summer have already headed south, leaving the High Plains for more inviting prospects — though don’t worry, visitors from the north will be passing through for a while yet.

Other members of our wildlife community are gorging while the gorging’s good and scrambling to find that perfect spot where they will be safe and warm while they hunker down and wait it out.

Most of the time, the hustle and bustle of this mass effort happens quietly outside of the human experience but every now and then, the two worlds intersect, and it’s usually a surprise.

It could happen when paths cross with silent wolf spiders as they set about home shopping, their search naturally leading them under door sweeps, through tiny cracks — and into hallways and living rooms everywhere.

Toads, only weeks ago found underfoot in biblical numbers, seem to have disappeared, that is until a flowerpot is moved and they bounce to life or a huge hole is spotted in the garden, complete with a dark pair of blinking eyes.

Fuzzy black and/or brown caterpillars creep along walls, roadways and sidewalks, on the prowl for a cozy hiding place where they will spend the winter, and if they’re lucky emerge from in spring just in time to build cocoons and move on to the next stage of their lives — more than likely as giant leopard moths.

Of course humans are doing things to get ready too — harvesting, bailing, chopping and stacking firewood — are activities bound to surprise critters, probably more so, even, then us when they come into our world.

For those of them that weren’t on the move already, there’s nothing like a gigantic tractor clearing a field or the sounds of a chainsaw to kick them into high gear and send them full tilt toward the nearest shelter they can find, a dynamic which often brings everything from mice to snakes out of the wild and into yards and, yes, even homes.

Food, shelter and refuge aren’t the only things that have the wild ones in a dither during fall, however.

In the next few weeks, eight-legged Romeos will hit the road in search of their ever-elusive soul mates, so if you’re new to the area, do not be alarmed at the sight of tarantulas. They have way more important things on their minds than tangling with the two-legged. Besides, if the search for a mate doesn’t kill them — it involves miles of grueling search for a female that is burrowed underground — the mating itself will almost always spell the end for them.

Whether searching for sanctuary, the refugees of harvest-time, the love-starved or those just passing through, it’s pretty well a guarantee they don’t want to cross paths with us anymore than we them. With all that’s on their minds and all they’ve yet to do, all we have to do is step aside (or shoo invaders outside) and they’ll go their own way — at least until spring, that is.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: [email protected]