I expect to see an occasional mammal partaking of the water in our birdbath, especially during a drought. I’ve seen deer and squirrels drinking, and I’m sure, though have not seen, raccoons have imbibed. But imagine my surprise when I went to the back door and found, not one, but two Gray Fox, perched on the bird bath lapping up the water, one of whom hung around on long enough for me to get this picture. Gray Fox are nocturnal (easily identified by the black stripe down their tail), so seeing them at my bird bath at 9:30 in the morning is doubly surprising. However it does clear up a minor mystery. Three times now, twice in the evening and once in the morning, I’ve heard a gawd-awful scream, sort of a cross between a cat scream and a bark. I’ve only had glimpses of the animal, small size, bushy tail, so I hadn’t drawn any firm conclusions as to the creature making these spine tingling sounds. Today, I’m sure I’ve seen the culprit. As you might have guessed, this is a new record for our Windhaven mammal list, and the first really good look that I’ve ever had of a Gray Fox. (As I was writing this, D’Argo spotted one of them slinking up the driveway and when he charged out into the yard to chase it, it made the sound. Case closed.)
Our county is right in the middle of the darkest red on the drought map. We’ve been in exceptional drought for about a week now, I think, possibly longer. It’s hard to think when it’s so hot. Our home temperature record is 112.3 so far.
According to this same agency, between now and Halloween, the drought conditions will continue or intensify. As of today I will no longer water the annual vegetable gardens, since the drought and the triple-digit heat have left them barren of fruit and struggling to survive, despite my watering deeply twice a week. I will also not bother to plant a fall garden until I see some kind of change in sight. It will get cooler as Autumn approaches, but if I wanted to grow anything but leafy greens, I’d have to start them in mid-August. The soil temperatures are about 100 degrees right now as well, so germination would be poor without taking some serious soil cooling measures and keeping the seedlings alive would be a constant chore. It’s just too hot, and there’s no end in sight unless a nice tropical depression makes it’s way into Central Oklahoma. I will continue to water, my nursery, blueberry plants, and perennial herb garden. Hopefully, after Halloween, I can plant a little bed of lettuce and have some greens through the winter.