If a person looks around them and observes nature, one can predict the weather at least as accurately as the professional weather reporters. Yesterday, I could predict a storm would be hitting us in the next few days by looking at the wildlife activity in the area.

At this time of year, a person will usually see deer in groups of two, three or four during the day, bedded down. They do most of their running around and eating near dawn and dusk.

Yesterday, pulling into the driveway in the middle of the day, 11 deer in one group were grazing like a bunch of sheep in the field. As we neared the house, another group of seven were down in the horse pasture.

Every deer had their head down eating as though they would not have another chance to eat for days. It caused me to wonder how bad a storm was approaching.

My wife and I jumped in the Ranger to go change the memory cards on the trail cameras. Driving by big oak trees, we could see the leaves had all been freshly raked away from their bases where the turkeys had recently been searching for acorns. Usually, a person sees a spot here and there where the turkeys have been feeding but this looked like they had been clearing under every oak tree in the area.

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Our lake has frozen over in the last few days, so all the Canada geese and trumpeter swans have left. We took a ride over to Lake Wapello to see if it still had open water and if our swans had moved over there.

There were a few acres of water that remained ice free. A dozen or so swans and a few hundred geese sat on the edge of the ice or swam around in the ice-free area.

I knew this could not be all the swans. They had either continued on their migration south or were out feeding in local cornfields.

Leaving the lake, we decided to take the back way home. Cresting the first hill overlooking the picked cornfields that cover the valley along the river, we saw hundreds of trumpeter swans.

They were gathered eating corn as fast as they could. They were filling up, giving themselves the option to head south if the weather got too bad or to go back to the lake and ride out the storm.

This morning, listening to the weather report, they started predicting a severe winter storm. I was not shocked. Wildlife had been telling me the same thing for two days.

As I look out of my office window, the clouds are building, and a group of deer are gathering out of the wind with protection from the cedar trees. They are ready for what is coming.

Next time you are wondering what the weather is going to be, stop and look around. Animals in nature can forecast the weather at least as accurately as the local meteorologists and usually more so.