The house has been ready for Christmas for weeks, now it's time to prepare the back yard for all the littles who come around. While there are no sheep or cattle or camels in my yard, such as those who appeared on the original Christmas Day, there is plenty of wildlife showing up. Squirrels and birds appear on the deck and go into begging mode. I toss chopped walnuts out for them and watch them dive for the morsels.
I've stocked up on bird seed, sunflower seeds and cracked corn and have filled the feeders, so even when I'm not at the kitchen window there will be plenty of food for all. Some birds prefer suet, so I've hung some hot-pepper suet from the branch of a tree. The squirrels don't like hot pepper, so they leave the suet alone--otherwise they would devour it just for a few sunflower seeds embedded in it! I put the sunflower seeds on the back fence and the rail of the deck, so they have plenty to eat.
The water dish on the back rail is popular. It has been unusually dry here for December, so it is not uncommon to see two or even three birds waiting in line for a drink! Sometimes one will decide the water dish is perfect for his bath, which is fine, but it means I need to refill it, because all the splashing quickly sends the water overboard. The squirrels love the water dish, too.
Sometimes I hear a noise on the deck in the evening, and I will look out and see a raccoon at the water dish. The raccoons can be a bit clumsy, however, and often as not the dish ends up on the ground and I have to retrieve and refill it. Even the occasional opposum comes looking for a drink or a few sunflower seeds.
The deer still prefer whatever plants I have that are blooming (and, amazingly, there are still some flowers in my yard!). Maybe I should leave carrots out for them!
The creatures who come around may not know why there are extra treats for them at this time of year, but I do. It's all part of the joy and celebration.