Trusting Instinct and Letting Go…

FD and I managed to sleep in late yesterday morning, which is fairly rare for us.  I looked at the clock a couple of times before I decided I really needed to let our three little house dogs outside to do their bathroom business.  It was 9:00.  Bear and Tori had been circling our bed for a while, but Zoe was still snuggled in her little bed.  I finally flopped the covers back, noting the room was chilly and the closed window blinds emitted a strange, dim light.  It was cloudy outside.  Opening the blinds I was not surprised to see the gray skies and swaying trees.  Keeping true to the day’s forecast, a few spits of moisture were clinging to the outside window panes. Only two days ago, Oklahoma enjoyed 70° temperatures, albeit accompanied by some gusty winds. That day, I walked around the yard in short sleeves, enjoying the almost balmy January weather. But yesterday, the bitter cold came back with a brisk slap of reality, as if to insult my dreamy thoughts of warmer days.

Daisy loves her apple snacks! I wonder if she misses them since she's been gone so long?
Daisy loves her apple snacks! I wonder if she misses them since she’s been gone so long?

And speaking of dreamy thoughts, oh, how I longed for my Daisy girl!  Lately, I had been looking back over the past year’s photographs of Daisy deer, and dreaming of the days she and I spent together.  I was used to seeing her nearly every day.  But, since November, Daisy had been disappearing for 3 or 4 days at a time, heading to the woods near the river, just about a mile away.  The last time I saw Daisy, she feasted on a little corn and deer chow in the feeders at the bottom of the slope, sipped for a long time at the water tub, turned to the north to duck under our barbed-wire fence, and then ambled off towards the river to the west.  She seemed to know just where she was going.

Daisy's reflective collar was missing this day. We had a heck of a time getting a new one on her! Could it be she does not like the homespun collar her mother makes for her?
Daisy’s reflective collar was missing this day. We had a heck of a time getting a new one on her! Could it be she does not like the homespun collar her mother makes for her?

Over the last couple of months, I found it difficult to wait several days for her to show up.  I tried to tell myself that her change in behavior was simply a part of the rutting season and that all of the deer had changed their habits. It was somewhat comforting to know Daisy was still running with the two little fawns that we had seen her with during the late summer months and into the fall.  But in late December, Daisy seemed even more aloof with us than ever before.  The last time she visited, she arrived without her reflective collar and FD and I had a very difficult time getting a new one on her.  She actually ran from us, and wanted no part of another collar! FD finally managed it, but Daisy’s ears stayed cocked back after that.  Generally, that is a sign of aggression, and at the very least, a sure sign of agitation.  You know, like, “Jeez mom, I can dress myself, and that thing looks stupid!”

The river is very low after two years of drought conditions.
The river is very low after two years of drought conditions.

Last Sunday marked nine days since we had seen Daisy at the feeding station below our house.  While visiting with our neighbor to the north, FD learned that he had spotted Daisy with about five does just a few days prior.  She and her friends were feeding in a neighboring wheat pasture to the west.

After hearing this, FD and I hiked the mile to the river that next day, in hopes of spotting our Daisy girl.  We saw plenty of deer prints, wild hog prints and wallows, but no Daisy.  There were various other critter tracks along the many animal trails as well.  We noted lots of trails that led down to the river bank below.  The river appeared to be quite shallow in areas, likely suffering from two years of drought, but obviously still providing adequate drinking water for the wildlife.

During our hike, I discovered an old, one-gallon glass bottle half buried in the dirt, and we found a few lost turkey feathers, which I like to use in arrangements around the house.  I snagged my hair in the trees, and managed to poke my right eye on a branch.  I decided I would never make a very good deer.  I spotted some hawks and owls (that’s how I got poked in the eye – watching wildlife and not paying attention to where I was walking) and I marveled at the types of fungus and lichen on the trees.  Though I found the area along the river to be an excellent place where one might sit and photograph wildlife, I also decided it would not be very safe for me to be alone there.  Given the number of wild hog tracks and hog feces we encountered, it was obvious this area of the river woodlands was overrun with these potentially dangerous beasts.

Deer hair remains as a telltale sign, marking a popular spot where deer cross under a fence from pasture land to the river woodlands.
Deer hair remains as a telltale sign, marking a popular spot where deer cross under a fence from pasture land to the river woodlands.

We never did see Daisy deer during our long hike over the weekend, so on Monday evening after FD returned from work, we walked the quarter-mile through the pecan orchard to the wheat pasture where Daisy had been spotted by our neighbor, picking up pecans along the way.  FD reached the hill overlooking the wheat pasture before I did, and managed to catch a glimpse of Daisy and two other does, running into the woods with white-tails flashing!  They had spotted him and took off running into the safety of the woods. I arrived too late, but it was enough to know FD had seen Daisy, and that she was alert and doing well.  I felt comforted knowing she was with a small herd, and living in the mile long area between the river and our home.  She was protected by the woodlands, had safe access to water from the river, and could graze on wheat pasture and winter woodland browse.  But, best of all these things, she had her instinct to guide her.

A pair of Eurasian Collared Doves taking advantage of a sunny, warm day.
A pair of Eurasian Collared Doves taking advantage of a sunny, warm day.

Still yet, being the worrisome mother that I am, I could not help but want to see Daisy in her new habitat, roaming with the other deer.  Likely, the deer were instinctively “yarding up” as deer tend to do this time of year, especially in the northern states.  With the arrival of colder temperatures and snow, deer tend to graze and rest together, traveling in larger, protected groups. I did not really want to bother her or the herd she was with – I simply wanted to spy a bit, assuring myself she was safe and doing well.  So, for three evenings  this past week, when FD came home from work, he and I walked to the wheat pasture or drove the road on the other side of it, but found no sign of Daisy.  Our neighbor inquired about Daisy too, stating he also had not seen her this week.  But I knew in my gut, that Daisy was fine, that she was doing well, and I chided myself for being such a worrywart.

This dead, twisted tree was struck by lightning many years ago. It stands in the middle of a wheat pasture, without bark and bleached by the sun. It appears to be hollowed out at the base and burned black inside from the lightning strike.
This dead, twisted tree was struck by lightning many years ago. It stands in the middle of a wheat pasture, without bark and bleached by the sun. It appears to be hollowed out at the base and burned black inside from the lightning strike.

Today marked day sixteen that Daisy has not come home, and it is day six since FD saw her grazing with the two does in the nearby wheat pasture.  I still have hope that she will return here often, to her birth home, to have a nibble of corn, and perhaps rest beneath the canopy of beautiful trees in our canyon.  I realize my role as Daisy’s deer mother has changed. This is the normal flow of life… we are born into, and need, the care of our mothers but, eventually, we take off on our own.  I know that Daisy will, as we all must do, trust instinct and make her own way in this world.  I too, must trust that instinct will guide her and let go of my worry and fear.  It is a time of change for both of us.

I get the feeling though, that this change is a little bit easier and more welcomed by Daisy than it has been for me!  And I wonder to myself, will the Universe provide me with another orphan of some sort in the coming spring?  Will Daisy become a mother and bring her little fawn to roam the woodlands where she grew up as a fawn herself?  Only time and the Universe will tell.  But one thing is for certain, ultimately, we have to trust that instinct will guide each of us, and lead us to where we belong.  I need to remember and hold fast to this truth.  I know it is time for me to let go of Daisy, and that I must do so with love.  It is time for me to trust instinct and the Universe and allow my girl to be what she was born to be…

Daisy enjoys the cold, winter weather!
Daisy enjoys the cold, winter weather!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


61 thoughts on “Trusting Instinct and Letting Go…

  1. It’s so lovely to share these walks with you. I was wondering whether deer habitually go off to new territory when they grow up or whether they stay in the same area? It would be great if she came back in the Spring with her own fawn. I love the expression worry wart and I can understand why you worry. I think close relationships with animals are such a privilege.

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    1. Oh thank you… it’s so good for my soul to share about Daisy. It is my understanding that most deer stay within a mile or two of their birth place. At least I hope that is the case for Daisy. And, you are right about bonding and relationships with animals… there is something very special and beautiful about what transpires between the two. This is the most amazing experience of my life! I’m so happy to share it with you!

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  2. I think it very likely that another orphan may one day find itself at your door 🙂

    It must be hard to let go, but I guess every parent can sympathise with you, as they watch their children grow up, leave school, leave home and forge their own lives. I have no doubt that you will see Daisy again sometime. She might want to show off her fawns in years to come!

    At least you know that she is being accepted by other does now, and you don’t have to worry so much on that score.

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    1. Thank you Rachel… your words are soothing! I have missed each little orphan as we released them to the wild, but none have been so difficult as letting Daisy go. I am thrilled for her, that she’s managed to find her way into a herd, and enjoying life with her own species. I just hope she always remembers her weird, human mom!!

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  3. The end of your story is moving, because you behave as a mother with her and as most of mothers, you realize it’s time for you to let her make of her own. She is a great girl. Thanks for sharing your marvellous story and experience with us.

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  4. I like reading your thoughts and feelings about Daisy. Your concerns are right where they should be. One can not help by worry after being with her for so long. You will always wonder what happened to her if she stops coming for food. I would be worried and wondering in the same way that you are,

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    1. Thank you for understanding! You know, I believe most of the people who have followed Daisy’s story probably understand my worry and wonder, and feel the same way themselves. I know in time this will be a bit easier, as it has been with all of the orphans we’ve raised. A little piece of our hearts go with all of the animals we connect with in life.

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      1. I would have to respectfully disagree with petspeoplelife. Think of the missed opportunity for loving that dear deer. That would be like me saying “I’ll never get another cat because it hurts too much when they die.” I feel like that for a few days or until I see a cat that needs a home! It’s cat time again!

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  5. I’m sure you’re right that parting ways is easier for Daisy than it is for you. Isn’t it the same with humans? The child is always raring to go out on their own, while the parent is often sad and conflicted. I hope you take comfort in knowing that you provided her all the care and nurturing she needed to grow into this lovely and independent doe. Who knows, maybe she tells the other deer stories about the warm-hearted human mother who raised her with such love. In a way, you’re an interspecies ambassador, aren’t you? I like that.

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    1. Oh my!! Kim, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!! I hope that someday I may be allowed to observe the herd without bothering them, and that they know my intentions are good. I have a friend in Kansas who is able to sit and observe deer, spending time with them. I think that would be an ultimate experience! Bonding with the wild deer!

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  6. Wonderful commentary about your time and relationship with Daisy.
    That would be so fantastic is she did come back with a fawn or two of her own wouldn’t it?!
    I do hope for you that is exactly what she has planned.

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  7. I am sorry that she is “growing up” but it is inevitable. I cannot imagine how you feel but you are a STRONG woman. Perhaps she may continue to visit but “nature calls.” I know you wish she would just stay like a pet but she is a “wild” animal! As Rachel wisely said above “(a)t least you know that she is being accepted by other does now, and you don’t have to worry so much on that score.”

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    1. Aw, thanks Louis! I’m not so much sad about her absence, more than anything I tend to worry. In time it will be easier for me… time always has a way of helping us along! 🙂

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      1. I agree but worry is stressful and stress can take a toll on your health. Take that from someone that knows. Talk to ya later before I start dripping tears. The text you wrote above is sensitive and moving and I’m such a wuss !

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        1. Ah, you are right Louis!! I don’t need to bring any stress into my life. I know how destructive that can be to one’s spirit and physical body. Thank you for the gentle reminder… and you are no wuss by the way! You are a caring soul!

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    1. What a good friend you are, Don! Yes, it’s time, and I know Daisy has made the transition easy on me. It’s a year tomorrow that we released Daisy and Holly deer. She gave me a year to adjust. What a good girl!

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  8. I think I would feel exactly as you do, Lori. You know you’ve done the right thing, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It is comforting to know that she has been spotted here and there, even if not on your property!

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    1. I am happy too, Lynda, that people around us are keeping an eye out for her! It is comforting to know that she’s doing well. I will always have corn, deer chow and fruity pebbles (a deer attractant that Daisy loves) down in the feeders for my girl and her friends… and all of the other critters of the woodlands!

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  9. Its very hard to let something that you have nurtured head out into the world without you, children of all denominations are our hearts. Allowing them to head out into the wider community without us reminds us that we have a duty of care to love them no matter where they are. Perhaps Daisy will return with a fawn and maybe she won’t. You did an amazing job raising her and giving her a chance at life that she otherwise wouldn’t have had and now that she is heading off to perhaps start a life in the wild herself you can temper your loss with the truth that you gave her that freedom, she is out there living her life, because you gave her that precious gift and there isn’t much more you can do for anything that you love with a passion.

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    1. What a beautiful comment you’ve made. I believe you have expressed how we all feel about raising and caring for, “children of all denominations”. Thank you for extending your kind thoughts to me. It means so much!

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  10. It’s good to know that Daisy is adjusting to wild life and fitting in with the herd. Even though I’ve not posted any blogs in some time I still stop by yours to catch up on what’s going on. With daughters of my own I know it’s difficult to let them go their own way when just a few short years ago you can remember how you were once the center of their world. That’s the way of life and hopefully it will get easier in time. We raise our children to be independent but the flip side of that is that they won’t be at your door step needing helping all the time. I hope the winter isn’t too harsh and you guys and Daisy have a safe one. As for me and Paco.. we still hit the trails every chance we get and I just invested in a new mountain bike. Maybe I’ll get inspired and blog about it some day. 🙂 Take care and once again it is always a pleasure to read one of your stories.

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    1. Glad to see you are checking in now and then! I’ve missed your posts… but glad to hear you and Paco are hitting the trails. I’m anxious to see a photo of the new bike, and I hope to hear more about your hiking and biking adventures.

      Thanks for the kind words of reassurance. I appreciate all of the folks out there who wish Daisy well. I’m sure she’ll be around again… she must really be enjoying life with the herd!

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  11. I have just discovered your blog and I know I am going to love reading you stories. Nature is amazing and all wild creatures feel comfortable in Mother Natures world. Letting go is hard, but you can take comfort that she is where she belongs and has chosen to be thanks to your unselfish help.
    Looking forward to your future adventures.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much Gigi!! What a wonderful and encouraging comment! I hope you’ll go back to read some of the past posts… many are filled with funny and interesting stories of nature in our part of the US. It’s good to have you on board!

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    1. I believe that Mark… Daisy has been good to break me in gently. She’s been disappearing off and on for a few months now, and it was only right that she would eventually spend more time in the wild. I’ve been assured by another friend who has raised a deer, that Daisy will be back… that it is the way of all animal life, and ebb and flow if you will. I know Daisy will return. She likes her corn and fruity pebbles too much!!

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  12. It’s hard to watch them leave – but she’s with a group who probably have experience – and the grey weather with mists and fog is protective. So we have to assume she’s fine. She’s free and living a deer’s life.
    (I can just see her fighting the collar as a teenager!)
    It is always fun to see them scoot under a fence…how come no matter how I try, I get pokes and stabbed?
    Watch out for those feral hogs – not a crowd you want to stumble upon.

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    1. I’m confident she’s enjoying being with a herd. I think it’s great that she fits in with a group, finding her place in a herd.

      It’s always fascinating to watch deer scoot under the fence, when they could easily jump over! They do it with such ease… those long legs make it look so simple! Daisy was always coming home with cuts on her back from the barbed wire. She wasn’t the only one to do it… and they have certain spots where they cross under. I guess we’ll never understand!

      FD saw a 500 lb (at least) wild hog yesterday near the cabin. He said it was in a group of about 25 hogs of various sizes. I hope I never run into anything like that! EGAD!

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      1. EGAD indeed! I’ve never seen one of those bad boys in the wild but down near the beach I’ve been seeing Nutria (big, nasty, rodents)! I’m glad they are herbivores.

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  13. What a lovely experience you’ve had with that deer. It is so startling when nature allows us to not simply take a front row seat but invites us in, even if it’s only temporary.

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    1. Hello, and welcome Jenny! We’ve kept a reflective collar on Daisy to protect her from hunters, and to be seen at night. I learned how to make my own collars from a woman in Texas, who also raised a little fawn. Most people in our area know who Daisy is, and everyone keeps an eye out for her. I hope she’ll always be treated well by humans, and that her collar will offer some protection.

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  14. Awww :/ so sad for you that you don’t see her anymore! It’s not as easy as with humans is it, can’t pick up the phone and tell her to come over.
    But maybe you took such good care of here that she thought i’ll go out and find me my family as well! And who knows, like Henriette said, maybe you’ll see her with her own fawn. :’) aww..

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    1. Your words are always so kind! We have seen Daisy at the edge of the woods in the evenings, grazing on wheat pasture with a few other does. She seems to be acclimating to the lifestyle of the local deer herd. I still think she managed to find a place with a herd when she began to spend time with 3 fawns and two does that frequented our feeders this summer. Her “babysitting” of the fawns earned her a spot in their little tribe. I am so thankful for this, even though it means letting go of my girl. I hope that she’ll always return to her “human” home, and bring her fawns with her. I’ll keep everyone posted!

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  15. Your picture of Daisy with her mouth wide open and her apple snacks made me giggle, so thank you! I used to believe that I would only be able to live an exciting and happy life if I lived in a city; the mindset just stuck with me all throughout adolescence. Now, however, my opinion has begun to be immeasurably swayed by stories such as your own. I’m starting to realize, and to an extent, experience the joy and vivacity of life that lies off the beatin’ path. So thank you for adding to my mindset that I could live in a city, but that there are also innumerable treasures to living nearer to nature.

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    1. Oh, my friend, if you read the “About Littlesundog” page, you’ll see I too thought the same thing as a young girl. I was so ready to be a city girl… only to find myself later in life, on this piece of land enjoying myself and tapping into my old farm girl roots. I love it here! I hope that someday you can find yourself closer to nature and the country. It truly is a wonderful life to share with the wildlife and Mother Nature! Thanks for stopping in! I loved your comment!

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      1. And I know, fully, that you knew she would move on, and prove that you allowed her to live her life as it was intended. The sadness I feel, I feel for you, because I have a sense that while you did great, there is a void. Try to fill it with how truly remarkable you are Lori.

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        1. Well, you brought the tears on. It’s true. I spent so much time with my girl, walking and resting with her. For a year and a half she was mine to love. Today, I rested alone on a bed of leaves in an area she used to lay in as a fawn. It’s these cold, winter months that are difficult. Soon spring will come and I’ll have things to do to keep me busy. For now I will wander the woodlands and maybe she’ll surprise me someday and show up for a little corn. I hope so anyway. Thank you, Mike. You have such a kind and tender heart.

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