Looking out the window this morning I saw Daisy and Holly pacing the fence, puffs of steam billowing from their noses. It was mighty cold last night with temps dipping below the freezing point. The deer seem to flourish in the cooler temps. Thick coats protect them from the elements. Winter hair is hollow, filled with air to provide insulation and offering a bit of waterproofing from rain.
Long gone are the lazy days of summer where I was often found keeping company with Daisy. Back then it was just Daisy and me. She was lonesome and often after a day of outdoor work I was tired and in need of rest. I found myself pulling out an old lawn chair cushion and laying down with Daisy in the shade. She chewed her cud while looking out over the yard and pastures. I promptly dozed for thirty minutes or longer. Usually, the bites of small ants awakened me. I found this aspect of her life rather unpleasant. The Oklahoma drought had kept most insects at bay all summer. Mosquitoes and no-see-ums were non-existent. The flies were still around, but for the most part they did not bother. Still, it was a pleasure laying with my girl.
I have to wonder if Daisy came to me at this particular time in life for a reason. I am a highly work-oriented person. My drive to achieve and accomplish is sometimes crazy-insane. I push to complete projects. A day of productive work is a successful day for me. Anything less has me frustrated and chomping at the bit to hit it hard the next opportunity, making up for lost time. Daisy changed all of that.
When Daisy came along my routine changed. It was not such a burden to feed her. Feedings were every 4 hours. It was the environment she needed that was more of a shift in lifestyle. I could not go hurrying around, making racket in the house. Daisy found secret places to hide; behind the couch, in the back of a closet, between items of furniture, tucked away in places we wondered how she managed to find, let alone fit into. The lure of a bottle of goats milk had those long legs unfolding, standing and gently sauntering to the “feeding station” where she got her nourishment, did her bathroom business, and got a little grooming with a baby brush. She would lick my neck and chest while I brushed her, making a little “mewing” noise. It calmed me, and humbled me. Soon she sauntered back to her hiding spot and settled in. Nothing was ever a hurry for her. She lived peacefully, looking for a quiet place to nestle down.
I found myself protective of her need for privacy and quiet. Our way of life became very deer-like. No blaring TV in the evening. FD got the evil eye if I thought he had the volume up too high. We avoided sudden moves. The house was quiet. Even the dogs seemed to understand our spotted guest needed her space.
When we moved her outside it was apparent she missed her “herd”. I often put all 4 Japanese Chin in the pen with her for company. As the scorching Oklahoma sun made more of an appearance, Daisy lost most of her baby hair. Her coat had a scrubby, bristly look to it. She spent a lot of time in the cool of the barn. I sat with her many times under the shade of the mimosa tree, reading a book while she laid nearby. I had not felt well most of the summer. I blamed it on my age and time of my life. Clearly, I knew I had to slow down. Daisy needed her mother, and I needed rest. So it was under the old mimosa tree that we laid together, bonding as a strange mother and child combination.
As Daisy got older and more independent, it was apparent our lazy days were no more. One windy day, I decided to keep Daisy company in the shelter of the barn. I had brought a book to read. She was curious about my book, nibbling at it and licking the cover until I put it away. Soon she discovered the zipper on my jacket, then the toggle pulls around the hood. Everything was interesting to her now, and nothing seemed off-limits. She nibbled on seams on my jeans, pulled my ponytail, tugged on my sleeves, and had a special interest in jewelry. After she nearly ate a necklace, I finally quit wearing jewelry altogether. Before long, the hoofing game started. At first I thought it was just play. She would throw her head around crazy-like, then raise up on hind legs and hoof at me with forelegs. Later, I understood it was about dominance. Just like a human teenager, my little fawn looked quite innocent, but under those spots was a very independent and curious young lady who did not always have lady-like manners.
These days Daisy and Holly keep each other company. They lay back to back chewing their cud, soaking up the winter sun. I still go out to feed Daisy her morning and evening snacks of carrots and apples, but I do not laze around talking to her and petting her. I scurry around to fill her feeding bucket with pellets and fill her water bucket before she has a chance to try the hoofing game. I have learned to divert her attention to a branch of tree leaves or a stem of rose-bush greens to nibble while I clean up deer poop in her pen. I keep a watchful eye. Those little hooves are mighty sharp!
Still, there are moments I am drawn back to thoughts of my baby doe. After the attack of the stray dogs last week, my girl has stood still while I rub aloe vera under her scarred eyes, nose and forelegs. She seems to understand I am helping her. I often think of my own Mom. All of us kids fled the nest a long time ago, venturing out into life, showing off our independence, being young and silly, and even mean-spirited at times. I still find myself grabbing the phone to call Mom when something’s gone awry, I’m lonely, or I hurt myself. There is something soothing and comforting about a mother’s love.
I needed the shift in lifestyle this summer… the slowing down and taking care of self. Daisy showed me that could be achieved simply. She ruminated (chewed cud) and I read books. She rested, looking out over the land, and I slept. We ate apples together. I planted a garden, she ate it. We were mother and daughter for a season, and it was a special time I will never forget.
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…