Thirsty young woodchuck. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

IT IS THAT TIME OF YEAR when the sun beats down and the temperature soars, when we are admonished to drink, drink, drink! The bottle of my good, cold well water is always at my side and my brow is dripping while sitting or working outside. I kept a birdbath on a pedestal in the yard and finding it demolished several times designed a less fragile and more budget-friendly solution. My nephew helped me collect a variety of our abundant Austerlitz stones from around my place. We made a low circular structure of stone without mortar, like an old well, and placed a new birdbath in the center on more stones to elevate and level it.

Success! No more breakage, looked more natural in my woodsy setting, and it was accessible to more wildlife. It was also easier to clean and fill from my porch using the high-pressure setting on the garden hose wand. I love that hose to water flowers, wash the porch, cool off, and make mud puddles in the drive for the butterflies. I become a kid again, or maybe at this age, it is my second childhood. I have fun.

Early breakfast on the sheltered porch starts the daily filling of the birdbath, which was often emptied during the night, possibly by raccoons or maybe a bear. It would be interesting to put up a game camera. It also means feeding time for the wildlife by tossing a few handfuls of cracked corn on the lawn. Usually, the first to arrive are chipmunks followed by a wild hen turkey, the one-eyed red squirrel, gray squirrels, birds, and others. Rarely a deer stops or brings a fawn. The fawns are not into their independent stage yet, a time which makes fawns curious and the does nervous. A weasel ran through last week, and later in the day, the young woodchuck with the white nose comes to eat lawn clover and get a drink.

This year there are no rabbits, which is unusual. There may be a cycle of disease this year, or there may be more predators like owls, hawks and coyotes. Weasels love rabbits so they may be getting the small rabbits. White-nose the woodchuck is cute but I wish something would take a few woodchucks and leave me a few rabbits. All welcome a drink on these sweltering days and I am very happy to provide it and enjoy the pleasure of their company.

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