Throughout the early spring months, we noticed a few of the wild deer frequenting the corn feeder and water tub down in the canyon. A couple of does appeared to be pregnant. We had also observed a yearling buck visiting the area. By mid-May, one doe seemed to be chasing all of the deer out of the area, including Daisy. It is normal for a doe to become territorial a few weeks before she gives birth. Somehow though, it just didn’t seem fair for this bully to be chasing my sweet Daisy away from the only home she had ever known!
During this time of turmoil, Daisy was cautious whenever down in the canyon. Most afternoons and evenings, we would find Daisy lying around up top near our house. Sometimes she found a cool spot over at FD’s mother’s house, where she rested in the English ivy and iris beds. Other times, we might find her laying in the shade of my flowerbeds, under the Forsythia bush or in the shade of the old Elm tree. At night she found comfort in the pastures, laying in the soft grass around the blackberry bushes. And, as a bonus, the blackberries offered ripe, fruity treats to nibble on for a midnight snack! Daisy seemed to know the territorial doe would not bother her as long as she stayed above the canyon rim.
By June, it was evident the doe was lactating, but she had not yet brought her fawn or fawns along with her. It is common for fawns to stay behind, hiding and resting, while the doe goes off to feed. She does, however, remain near enough that she can keep an eye on her little charges. When taking these short respites from her nursing fawn, this particular mama doe frequented the corn and deer feed two or three times a day. As a lactating mama, she needed the extra protein in her diet.
Apparently motherhood was good for the doe’s mood as well, for she appeared (at times) a bit more friendly when Daisy approached her. Daisy seemed to understand that keeping a little distance was still a smart thing to do most of the time! Other times, the doe ran Daisy off. Difficult as this was to watch, I knew it was a part of establishing herd hierarchy and dominance. I knew that Daisy would probably always be hoofed off by other does. After all, she was different. She did not understand the ways of deer and deer herds. Because she was not born into a herd and raised in one, it was likely she would always be an outcast. But, not understanding this of herself, she was always willing to share and tried to socialize whenever deer came to the feed and water area.
Over the hot summer months, Daisy spent more time in the deep shade of the woods. I often saw her getting water in the early mornings, around noon, and then again just before dark. At dusk, she would usually venture into the nearby pecan orchard. But her travel habits soon became sporadic as she tried to avoid the territorial does. We had heard from neighbors that she had been seen crossing the busy road between the pecan orchard and the park, just four blocks away. We had seen her on the outskirts of the northwest part of town, when we took the back streets around the west side. I worried about her a lot, as mothers do with their children. I always hoped her reflective, orange collar would help make her visible, and make people more aware that she was a deer raised by humans. We had raised her to be returned to the woodland, living as a wild deer. But oh, was it ever a worry to set her free with no one to show her the ropes of being deer savvy!
Finally, in July, Daisy seemed to have a routine established. We might see her very early in the morning in the company of the dominant doe. Most of the time she came up top in the evenings to get her apple snacks, or a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden. We would walk around with her and often she would wait until FD got the brush out and gave her a nice, soothing massage before going off for one last bite at the feeding station and on to the night’s activities. When it was especially hot, she often took a frolic in the sprinkler to cool off. But by dark, she would scamper down to the woods and into the pecan orchard. Sometimes before turning in to bed, FD and I would shine the flashlight down below in the canyon and spot Daisy and the doe feeding together. Occasionally, there were several does. Daisy usually kept her distance, but she was finding a place for herself, and following a small herd around.
I often look back at photos I took of Daisy over these summer months, noting the bruising and scars from the hoofings she endured. There were a couple of times I actually heard the loud thump of hoof on hide as the doe hit Daisy while she munched at the feed tray. I watched the doe chase Daisy off numerous times, but each time Daisy came right back. She learned to keep a little distance. She learned to be alert and to watch the doe’s body language. She continued to try to get close to the doe, and at times the doe allowed it. Other times, however, the doe wanted no part of Daisy. These times were difficult to watch. But I was also very proud of my girl. She never gave up. She always kept trying.
I thought about my own difficult experiences in life. How many times I wanted to achieve something, only to give up when the road got too rough. Daisy’s persistence in pursuing a herd, reminded me that it’s never too late to achieve something desired. Daisy was an oddball, an outcast – but that never stopped her from forging forth. She did not think about the hurdles, the “what if’s” and all of the reasons why things might not work out for her. She simply proceeded with persistence.
There is an old saying that goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” It is a simple verse that most have heard at one time or another. But we often forget the deeper meaning of this little jingle and get caught up in the “what-ifs” and overwhelmed by the road blocks and bumps we might encounter should we pursue our goal. We give up, or worse yet, fail to take that first step. I believe we would all do well to take a lesson here from Daisy deer, whose persistence is evidence that it really is as simple as “Try, try again!”
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…