Woodchuck family

moon phase Week of 06/14/2009 Good days for planting root crops.

With a wheelbarrow full of weeds from the garden, I headed out back to the compost pile. As I passed the row of stacked firewood, I was startled by a very loud whistle. Mama woodchuck keeping watch Mama woodchuck keeping watch I had startled a female woodchuck, and she sounded the warning call to her four kids, who were chasing each other around the board pile. They all ducked under the pile of old boards as I passed by.

It should be a good time to take some pictures, so I went to the house and got the camera. Then I stopped to snap a few stems and leaves of some nearby Cow parsnip. I slid a lawn chair over to about 10 feet from the woodpile, and placed the parsnip leaves at both ends of the pile. I barely got comfortable in the chair before a little woodchuck nose peered through the logs, then another and another, and a fourth one was already eating the leaves I left at the other end. I'm sure they could smell the carrot-like scent of the Cow parsnip and came looking.

Baby woodchucks playing with cow parsnip Baby woodchucks playing with cow parsnip Just this morning I was telling a friend that Cow parsnips are Woody's favorite food. They will even go into a live trap for it. Well, here's proof of how much they like it. They even fought for the last bite, as I sat and watched only ten feet away. I could sense that the little woodchucks knew I wasn't going to harm them. Wildlife is so much more fun to watch when there is no fear.

A friend gave me a little wren house that they had built, and I put it up just outside the back door at the corner of the screen porch. Within an hour, a pair of House wrens was busy carrying sticks and stuffing them in to the quarter-sized hole. In no time they had a nest built inside and were calling it home.

Female Bluebird Female Bluebird A female bluebird has decided she likes the old fiberglass birdhouse on the corner of the shed. Another friend gave that one to me twelve years ago, and it had never been used—even by wrens—until now.

That old machine shed has become a home to many. There are two robins' nests inside, and a nest of Phoebes, and now a bluebird. A chipmunk also uses the shed and gets along with the woodchucks and deer mice. The shed is like a hotel for wildlife.

A white-tailed doe and her fawn have been hanging around the meadow this week. I've seen them four times and today she left the fawn in the tall grass only a few yards from the house. Fawn Fawn There's nothing more sweet and innocent than a little spotted fawn. There is nothing that pulls on your "heart strings" like getting a glimpse of one of these tiny harbingers of spring. I feel blessed to have the deer so close to my life. It's not the first time a doe has felt it was safe to leave her fawn so close to the house.

The needed rain came over the weekend, and the flowers seemed to "pop" overnight. I'm always amazed at what beauty lies under the ground waiting for a spring rain to send it blooming upward. The small space they share with the land becomes huge with their beautiful scents and colors. Some of the prettiest flowers of the year are now in bloom, and invite us all to come in for a closer look. They include the white Dames rocket, the white Canada anemone, the magnificent yellow Lady's slipper, the beautiful white wands of the chokecherry blossoms, the lovely soft blue flowers of the spiderwort, and the striking Golden Alexanders. Yellow Lady's Slipper Yellow Lady's Slipper These and many others are now in bloom, and attract the flying insects to pollinate their inviting blossoms. More flowers mean there will be more insects, which is good for birds like the Kingbird, a large flycatcher who makes his living catching insects.

In the garden, the poppies are showing off their bright red flowers as the Irises make a grand appearance in several colors of blue, lavender and yellow. The runner bean and morning glory vines are up and starting their long climb up the wires on the house. There's something new and exciting going on every day, so there's something to look forward to each time I go outside.

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Judy from from Freehold, New Jersey on June 22, 2009 at 10:08:05 AM
What great descriptions of your wildlife observations! I almost feel like I'm there. I, too, enjoy watching the groundhogs with their young. I admire the deer and their fawns also, except for their voracious appetite in my gardens. I look forward to your next note.
Joyce from from Fort Carson,CO on June 18, 2009 at 05:22:15 PM
Thanks for the always beautiful writing! I shared it with my daughter who is home from Johnson and Wales U. in Denver, She is studying to be a Chef, but one who is nutritionally balanced and cooks as much as possible with all natural ingredients. She also loves photography and art and found your story and pictures just great! Sincerely, Joyce Roberts, Fort Carson CO
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