Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Moss on Boundary Trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Moonlit main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Elegant spreadwing damselfly, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Racoon on trail camera near Wild Goose Blind, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Northern water snake in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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House wren near Headquarters, photo by Leor Veleanu
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Luna moth male on porch at Headquarters, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Bleeding heart flowering near Headquarters, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Northern cricket frog in Miller Pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Fungi on fallen tree on Boundary Trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is a protected natural habitat comprising 767 acres of pristine pine lands, forest, fields, bogs, streams and lakes. It provides a refuge to animals and plants indigenous to southern New Jersey; a place where wildlife can live freely and naturally without fear of being harmed at the hands of human beings. We began as the home of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci and Cavit Buyukmihci, who dedicated their land to habitat preservation so that native wildlife and habitat could thrive. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) entity, federal ID 23-7025010.
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Timothy the Impatient Beaver

by Nermin Buyukmihci, undated

It was almost sunset and Timothy was awake and fidgeting inside his home, the beaver lodge. His five brothers and sisters were fast asleep. Timothy rolled on his back, then on his left side, and then on his right side. Finally, he got up.

"Why should I wait for everybody else to wake up before I go for breakfast?" thought Timothy. "I'm three months old. I've been outside the lodge, swimming in the big pond, ever since I was two weeks old. I'm hungry now!"

Beavers in lodge drawing by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci
Beavers and lodge drawing

So Timothy dived into the pool from the sleeping shelf where he and his siblings were born. He swam down, down, down – then with a swish! He went up, up, up the underwater passage and out onto the surface of the water.

"It's neat to be out in the big pond," rejoiced Timothy. "Our indoor swimming pool is okay, but I like the big pond better." He continued swimming away from the lodge. He was going to look for some breakfast. Sunset is breakfast time for beavers.

Timothy's hind feet were webbed like a duck's so that he could swim well. He was born with his eyes open, and he had transparent goggles ready to see under water.

With a flinch, Timothy remembered jumping right into the pool inside the lodge – before he knew how to swim. His mother had to pull him out by his paddle tail. She said "SSSSST!" That was her way of scolding him.

Timothy knew where some poplar trees were growing upstream. Their leaves were delicious and green-and heart-shaped. When he surfaced, he looked all around to make sure no danger threatened. His greatest fear was man, for he had heard many stories of relatives who had been shot or trapped. His Uncle Bart was missing one hind leg now because of a trap that a man had set. Others of his relatives were dead and their furs mad into trinkets.

He swam upstream, using his broad flat tail. Soon he saw the poplar leaves. He smelled them too, and they smelled as fragrant as freshly cut oranges would smell to you and me.

He climbed onto the bank and reached up his delicate black hands and grabbed the poplar leaves. He stuffed them into his mouth and chewed them with a snip-snip-snip that sounded like a sewing machine stitching fast.

Timothy loved to eat crunchy poplar leaves and bark - with his sharp teeth it was a snap.

But Timothy wasn't content to just eat poplar for breakfast – he wanted some tender grass and water plants too. They were even farther away. As usual, he was in a hurry, so he left a poplar leaf half eaten and rushed upstream.

Beaver with water lily on head drawing by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci
Beaver and lily drawing

Timothy liked the taste of tender water lilies – their leaves, flower buds, stems – even the roots.

After he ate, he felt like playing. If he had waited for his brothers and sisters to wake up and come with him, they could have all played hide-and-seek among the lilies, diving deep and slapping their tails on the water's surface before diving again.

As it was, Timothy had to play by himself. The first time he surfaced, a lily leaf stayed on his head like a beret. He pretended he was a French beaver and mewed in accents and put on airs. The second time up, the lily leaf stayed plastered across one eye, so he became a pirate with a patch for awhile. The third time up, Herbert, the wiggly water snake, stayed draped on his back.

"Hi Timothy!" said Herbert. "I'm going to the large dam upstream that your parents made."

"I'll give you a ride," offered Timothy. He was getting lonely by now and glad for the company. He was beginning to be sorry that he had been so impatient.

"Have you seen the Roodges, the otter family?" asked Timothy.

"Yes," replied Herbert. "But they were heading downstream a half hour ago."

"Oh," said Timothy, disappointed. He had thought to play with the young otters.

After dropping the friendly snake off at the beaver dam, Timothy had something he had to do.

He had to groom himself. If he waited until he got home his mother would give him a lecture. He had been yelled at countless times before. He could hear his mother's lecture in his mind:

"My dear Timothy, just look at your fur – it's a fright! It's getting dry and unhealthy looking. First dive in the water and get the outside of your fur all wet."

Wet beaver drawing by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci
Wet beaver drawing

Timothy obediently dived in, but he didn't want to return to the lecture. However, his mother would go SSSSSST! to him if he didn't...

His mother took a big breath and looking poor Timothy right in the eye, continued, "Okay, now sit on your tail and start combing. Don't tell me you lost your comb – because we beavers have our combs with us at all times – the second inside claw of our hind feet."

He combed until he thought he'd die of boredom. Then his mother said, "Now you've got to oil your fur and make it waterproof. You know, honey, if you don't, you're going to swim out to the big pond some day and sink like a bag of potatoes. You can't say you're out of oil, either. We beavers don't have to buy fur cream at the store – we've got a natural tube of oil, castoreum, right at the base of our tails. Rub the oil into your fur with your delicate fingers. Your brothers and sisters are always so glossy and waterproof, why do I constantly have to remind you to groom yourself?"

After all that combing and brushing and oiling of fur, Timothy was tired. He couldn't help but yawn – he opened his mouth wide, showing his round pink tongue. It was time to take a nap.

First he had to find a suitable place for his nap. He dived into the water and headed for an island out in the middle of the pond. Soft moss and green grass grew there and they'd provide a cozy mattress for him. Loosestrife branches leaned over the island, giving him shelter.

By this time the sun had set. The moon shone on the water.

Sleeping beaver drawing by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci
Sleeping beaver drawing

Timothy climbed up on the island and looked around. The island was a good place to take a nap because he could leap into the water with a big splash of his tail, Ker-wham! if he heard or smelled any danger. That would throw water in the enemy's face while Timothy scooted – underwater – to safety. He finally closed his eyes, but his ears and nose stayed alert. He felt lonesome, though. He was really sorry now that he had been in such a hurry to leave the lodge. If only he had waited for the others to wake up, they could all be snuggling together for the nap, talk or mewing back and forth before falling asleep. He eventually dropped off to sleep, dreaming of poplar leaves. One of his last waking thought was, "Tomorrow I won't be so impatient – I'll wait for everybody else. Then we can all have fun together!"