In the Dark of Night

It is a nightly ritual of mine to venture out onto the back porch, scanning the woodlands below the slope for diners at the deer feeder. Using my high-beam flashlight to light up the woods, I always hope I will discover some “green” eyes reflecting back at me. Specifically, I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of orange-collared Daisy deer.

When we first moved on this little ranch, I did not really enjoy the nighttime.  Coyotes howled in the distance and sometimes ventured near the house.  With no outdoor lighting on the property except a couple of motion lights on the front and back porches, it was completely dark… blackness surrounded us.  Only the twinkling stars and a sometimes full moon lit the sky at night.

When Daisy deer came into our lives, I learned to appreciate her world.  At night, deer and most other wildlife are very active.  In time, I no longer feared the night sounds and found that I actually enjoyed the rhythm of the night creatures.  Even the baying and howling of the coyotes was intriguing and exciting!

It had been since late December that we had seen Daisy deer on our property.  We had spotted her a half-mile from here, in an area near the old river channel.  I had also discovered her a couple of times further down the river – about a mile away, always with a couple of wild does.  It was comforting to know she had managed to find a place in the local herd, and she seemed to be flourishing on her own.

FD and I had both noticed a change in our girl after the rutting season in November 2012. It was apparent that our little orphaned fawn had grown up.  She was a young lady now and we wondered if she would become a mother this coming spring, having been spotted over a period of three days during this past autumn’s rutting season, in the company of, and trying desperately to avoid, a young buck.

This photograph was taken at dusk, a time we might spot Daisy and her friends grazing on wheat in the field beyond.
This photograph was taken at dusk, a time we might spot Daisy and her friends grazing on wheat in the field beyond.

All through January and February, I scanned the feeding area in the darkness in hopes of seeing Daisy, but she did not come back.  Becoming discouraged, I quit going outside after dark to look for her.  I still prayed to God/Universe each night to protect her and keep her safe. Part of me still worried, but I could not dwell on thoughts of where she might be.  I had to trust she was fine.  After all, she had managed for more than a year on her own and proven she was capable of surviving in the wild.

Ever hopeful, FD continued the nightly vigil, watching the canyon and hoping to see some sign of Daisy’s return.  Though we knew from hoof prints found some mornings that one or two deer occasionally stopped to nibble a little feed in the night, we were not seeing any deer at the feeder.  Most mornings, I found only evidence of raccoons, squirrels and birds having visited the feeders.  In March, I found wild hog prints in the sand, and torn up patches from their rooting and wallowing near the feeders.  Those beasts had actually moved both of the feeding trays far from their normal spots and gobbled up every bit of the deer feed!  Since we were not seeing much sign of deer activity anyway, we decided not to put deer feed down for a time. Obviously, we were attracting some undesirables to the feeding area!

Finally, in late March, FD found Daisy at the feeders a few times.  However, she was usually with other does and FD was mindful to leave Daisy alone when he saw other deer accompanying her in the woods. Instead, he would observe her and her friends through binoculars, looking out the back door. During one visit, FD noted Daisy seemed to be the dominant one of the group. She fed at the corn feeder and sometimes hoofed the others off if they attempted to feed at the same time.  A few times, he found Daisy alone and managed to brush her and visit with her for a short time before she took off into the woods. FD wondered if her companions were nearby, as she always seemed to be in a hurry.

Last weekend, FD and I worked very hard moving dirt and repairing fences on the ten-acre ranch.  After Saturday’s work, I opted to go to bed early to rest my weary muscles, as I knew Sunday would be another hard day since the weather looked to be favorable again. I am not sure how long I had dozed, but FD gently awoke me around 11:30 saying that Daisy deer was at the corn feeder – alone.  He did not need to ask if I wanted to get up… I shot out of the bed and dressed quickly, hoping to get down there before she took off. Daisy was like that – we would spot her and just seconds later she would disappear into the woods.

Shining the flashlight down to the base of the slope, I caught her beautiful dark eyes, shaded by long lashes, looking up at us.  She was a little wary until we offered our hands for her to sniff.  Assured it was us, Daisy relaxed and went back to her nibbling.  We petted her and spoke softly to her.  We did manage to pick a few ticks off of her ears, but she was distracted by two gray foxes trotting past as they made their way into the pecan orchard. Being the night hunters that they are, we frequently see the fox pair just before dark and again at dusk each morning.  Whenever she spots them, Daisy has always run off the foxes and feral cats in the area.  That night was no different!  She stomped off after the foxes and disappeared into the woods.

This past Monday night, I grabbed the flashlight at 9:30 to let our three little Japanese Chin out front to do their final business of the day.  As usual, Zoe and Bear took off to the north while Tori went south.  Why they could never go as a group was unknown to me! I was always watchful this time of night… scanning with my flashlight to look for predators by land and air. Zoe is small enough for an owl to snatch up, and Tori and Bear would certainly be coyote or bobcat dinner if I was not looking out for them!

This particular night, I spotted a big, brown shape in the pasture.  It was a deer, and it seemed to be alone.  Letting the dogs back inside, I announced to FD there was a deer in the pasture, and he came out to investigate. Noticing the wind was blowing our human scent right at the deer, and it did not seem to be alarmed, FD declared that it had to be Daisy and began moving closer. Soon, he could pick out the blaze orange collar, sliding up and down her neck as Daisy raised and lowered her head to feed.

It was a beautiful and quiet, starlit night, with warm temperatures. And there was Daisy, nibbling on vetch in the pasture just south of our house!  As we approached and lowered the flashlight, Daisy relaxed and, after a sniff of hands and arms, once again allowed us to pet her and pick ticks off of her. At one point, she stopped to lick FD’s forehead, something she had always done as a fawn.  She grazed a bit longer, and then headed down to the canyon to meet two other does who were at the feeders, waiting for her.

Daisy's hoof print in the soft, red soil of the canyon.
Daisy’s hoof print in the soft, red soil of the canyon.

On Wednesday, spring storms moved in by late afternoon.  Our area seemed to be just north of the line of heavy storms. This evening, southwestern Oklahoma was being blasted by strong winds, heavy rains, large hail and even tornadoes.  As I always do during threatening weather, I sent out a prayer for Daisy’s safety and comfort.  The combination of rain, wind and cold is tough on wildlife, and the temperatures dropped forty degrees in a short time as the storms moved through.  Daisy was showing signs of the spring shed, and was beginning to look very unkempt, but I knew she still had a lot of her winter coat left and would weather this storm too, as she had done many times since her release. Still I worried…

By 10:30 p.m.,  most of the volatile storm activity had diminished and FD took his flashlight out one last time to check the feeders below the house.  There was Daisy munching corn in the soft rain! Both relieved and elated, we padded down to greet her and give her some “fruity kibbles”, a name we gave the deer attractant that Daisy loved to snack on!  With more than 4 inches of rain falling over the last few hours, the ground was soft and sloppy and Daisy’s hooves and legs were mud-covered.  We too, sunk into the muck where she stood.

After a time, Daisy trotted up the slope to the yard and FD went to fetch my yellow rain jacket so that I could continue to walk with her.  She grazed around the yard and into the pasture south of the house while I spoke gently to her.  I listened to the tapping of rain on my jacket. I could smell the cedar trees, and the scent of earth as I walked alongside her.  I heard the squeak and “rip” of green vegetation as she nibbled vetch and other tasty weeds in the pasture. This was a magical world she lived in, and all was right for me in this strange darkness.  Enveloped in the warmth of my coat and rain jacket, and reveling in Daisy’s company, I felt comfort in the blackness of night. I did not feel fear or worry. Peace and tranquility were mine for that moment! For even in the darkness, nature speaks to us.

Suddenly the skies let loose with a torrent of rain.  I bid my girl a hurried goodbye wish as she ran off to the woods. I trudged back to the house in the opposite direction with a heavy heart, thunder rolling in the distance.  It is never easy to part ways and watch her run off all alone.  For often, I long to be with her, running wild and free in the night!

By the way, FD and I are fairly certain our very robust girl is expecting!  Looking back at photos of her with her young beau in November, we can only estimate an approximate “due date” of early to mid-June.  The next month will tell us more, I’m sure, and I will continue to look for Daisy in the nighttime hours – the hours when she is free to roam as deer do… and the hours when I find unexpected comfort in the darkness.

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


67 thoughts on “In the Dark of Night

  1. I am so glad you were able to visit her. I have often wondered how she was doing and so glad to hear the news. Congrats Grlandma!

    Like

    1. Thanks Charla!! It’s always funny to watch people’s reactions when we tell them we’re expecting a Granddeer! Daisy looks good. I wish I had photographs, but with her arriving at night now, it’s difficult to pull off.

      Like

  2. I am so happy to read that Daisy Dear is alive and appears to be thriving; and maybe a fawn in a few months. I think about her often and have been worried because you have not posted about her in so long. I love reading your articles. Can’t wait until the day I read one where you talk about seeing Daisy with a fawn. I know you will be a very happy grandma!

    Cindy, Kool Mo, Oliver,and (Lola and Twinkie too from the Rainbow Bridge)!

    ________________________________

    Like

    1. Oh, Cindy, I’m so happy to be writing again. I’m glad you enjoy the blog posts! I’ve been busy with spring planting, and I spent a lot of time this winter gathering and burning downed limbs and trees in the woodlands. It seems I am always formulating stories for blog posts in my head, but I get sidetracked and don’t make time to do the writing! I am hopeful that Daisy will have her fawn here on the property, where I might be able to photograph the birth. I know that’s being very hopeful, but it would sure be amazing. Right now I’m just happy to see her more often. I’ve missed my girl.

      Like

    1. Hello Margaret! I am always so happy to see my special girl! She looks very healthy… being a wild deer agrees with her! I have to admit I’m glad she hasn’t forgotten her weird, human parents. We have missed her the past few months. Thank you for your well wishes… I hope to write about Daisy’s new adventure being a mother!

      Like

        1. It will be a happy day to update everyone, and I’ll be sure to get photos. I think does wait about 3 or 4 weeks for their fawns to accompany them in their territory.

          Like

  3. Lori, I always enjoy reading your work, but today’s post is particularly lovely. It must be so hard to let go. At least she still comes home for a visit, and I believe she will bring the baby home to see you too. I feel safe in saying that we all look forward to that! Oh yes, and your photograph of the robin is amazing!

    Like

    1. Thank you Lynda! That photo was taken one evening when FD and I had gone for a walk in search of Daisy. There are three wheat fields in that area and we had spotted her near there a few days before. I thought the bird (I believe it was a robin) was an interesting shot… though I’d brought the camera along in case I saw Daisy. I see photographs wherever I go… it’s always been like that!

      Like

      1. ” I see photographs wherever I go… it’s always been like that!”

        Me too, but about 80% of mine are trash. 😉 Oh, I think you are correct that the bird is a robin.

        Like

        1. I might take 30 photos and end up with one good one!! That’s what is great about digital. There are a lot of blue birds in that area, and I thought that particular evening there was a large group of robins feeding. This bird looked a little stout to be a robin, but it was also a very cool evening so perhaps it was fluffed out! Have an awesome day Lynda! I wish you were here… we’d walk to the river with our muck boots on! We got 4 inches of rain night before last!

          Like

          1. I wish I were too! I am making my plans, though they are distant ones… Thanks, Lori!
            (PS: I am adding a few of your photos and some finishing touches into my next post… it is overdue! 😉 )

            Like

          2. I know!!! I want to write about the trip too! If I don’t get to it I may just reblog yours (with your permission of course!). I had to do that with my friend Sandy Sue. We met last year and her blog post about our meeting was so wonderful and I just kept lagging behind so I reblogged. I really enjoyed the trip to see you and Bob, and I ended up with some fabulous photographs!!

            Like

          1. Most certainly… I’ll just make the time next week! I’ll just embed the link to your blog post. I need to write about my meeting with Sandy Sue last fall as well.

            Like

  4. It’s great that Daisy is doing well – you never know, maybe she will come back to your place to give birth, as she is familiar with it and you and knows she will be looked after? Glad you’re back writing again 🙂

    Like

    1. Oh Rachel, that means so much. I’ve been both busy with gardening and outdoor work with the spring temperatures warming up, and I had taken a few trips recently. I’m really feeling the desire to write again! Thank you for your kinds words!

      Like

  5. It’s like a soap opera, “The deers of our lives”. Ha! My great aunt in upper Wisconsin had a group of woodland animals she watched over. I wish I lived in a bit more rural of an area so I could enjoy the wildlife a bit more.

    Like

    1. Daisy’s story has been ongoing, and I’m always surprised at how many people around the world have taken interest in her story. It is truly a gift to live near the woods where we see so much wildlife. I hope too, that someday you can interact with nature more. It’s a wonderful life!

      Like

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoy Daisy’s story. I was just looking back the other day, at all of the posts I’d written since she came to us. She has become the main point of interest in my blog, and I am amazed about her worldwide attention. It will be another facet of her story… being a mother.

      Like

  6. What a touching story. I thought that once Daisy had tasted the freedom of being in the wild that seeing her would only be by happenstance; however, it’s obvious that she still remembers and is grateful to you and FD for the care you gave her. PLEASE, keep us posted on any further adventures of Daisy deer and know that I am happy for you. Just think, due to your blog, Daisy is a worldwide sensation . Perhaps you have the start of a NYT bestseller!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Louis! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know Daisy still feels “at home” here and has returned to visit. It’s an amazing thing, this relationship between humans and animals. Again, Daisy has taught me more than I’ve learned from any human. It’s been an amazing story to share with others. If you’ll note, most people who follow Daisy via this blog are people who understand her message to mankind. Superficially, it’s a cute story about a deer… but there is much deeper meaning and purpose to the whole experience. It’s such a wonderful and respectful thing for people from all over the world to connect with her story. It just bowls me over with emotion sometimes.

      Like

  7. I’m so pleased that she’s been back – and not just once or by accident. I have no doubt she’ll bring her fawn, when the time is right. Despite the turmoil of the human world, the cycles of nature continue on.

    Like

    1. I couldn’t agree more with your comment on the cycles of nature! It is exciting that Daisy returns, and it amazes me that she managed to make her way into a small herd. I believe these two deer that we see her with, may be two of the fawns from last year that we saw her sitting with (babysitting) during the hot summer days.

      Like

  8. I’m so happy to hear that Daisy has been back several times and seems to be maintaining her bond with you and FD. And a grandbaby deer, OMG, I can’t wait. I feel sure she’ll bring her baby to meet you, (And yes, that bird is a robin.)

    Like

    1. Thank you oh great birding queen!! You are my “go to” friend for bird identification and information! Yes, we’re excited… but I try not to think about it too much. I’m sure I’ll be the typical Grandma, worrying about every little aspect of the birthing and worrying about the little one until it’s old enough to fend for itself. Nature isn’t always kind to the babies. More than anything, I hope it all goes well for Daisy. I really hope I’ll be able to photograph the delivery. That would be amazing.

      Like

  9. Another beautiful share :). I love reading about daisy and that very thin line between our own world and the wild world. Reminds me of Cat Stevens song “Wild World” and how we can tentitively step over by observing and shareing with nature. So glad that Daisy came back! It will be wonderful to read about Daisies baby (if she is, indeed, pregnant) and your obvious joy :). Kudos on another wonderful post 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you Fran, for such a lovely comment! This journey with Daisy is simply amazing. I’m not sure I ever adequately express how I feel about her, but it’s a BIG love. I haven’t written about it but while I was visiting a blogger friend in Alabama recently, I had the most amazing dream. I was a deer!! I had deer legs and hooves and I could run and leap! I could see all around and everything was crystal clear. I could hear the tiniest noises and my sense of smell was monumental!! I felt safe in our same woods (this property) and I came to visit often. I can’t tell you how great it felt to have 4 legs and the ability to leap and run! I don’t think even Earl could keep up with me! There’s more to the dream but it was such an amazing feeling to be a deer. I understand Daisy’s wild instinct and to be with her own kind. I also understand the bond with her “human” parents.

      Like

      1. Maybe that dream was a gift? Maybe it was part of you, that part that keeps Daisy coming back being allowed to travel in your sleep with the herd? Who really knows, but if it was that vivid and you can still feel it and are able to describe it, it must have been a really amazing dream :).

        Like

        1. Oh, it was an amazing dream! There is more to the dream, and I understood what it was about. The past couple of months have presented some personal challenges where I was able to overcome some difficulties of the past. In part, the dream helped me realize Daisy’s need to be free and be wild. In part, I was tapping into the part of myself that longs to be free… to run without the confines of society. I have always taken interest in interpreting dreams and finding meaning in them. This is the first deer dream I have had. I have had several dreams where the red fox comes to me. I knew the purpose of those dreams as well. These night visions serve a purpose… they are a gift. I’ve learned to appreciate the message and to respect the bearer of the message.

          Like

          1. I hope I don’t ever work out the meaning of my recent dreams! Mine involve intricate U.F.0.’s that all join together to form a massive great U.F.O. that terrified the living daylights out of me…I think we might just say that was the result of eating tea too close to bed time and be done with it! ;). I do believe that sleep is where we are able to cross into other places. I also believe that we get messages and make sense of what is going on inside out heads when we sleep. As I said, I have NO idea what my recent dreams are about and I think I am going to allow them to carry on into the ether by themselves without analysis 😉

            Like

          2. I’m in agreement with you on dreaming and sleep state. Sometimes, though, like your UFO dreams, it may not be apparent until a later time. I have had a couple of dreams like that, and weeks later the meaning was apparent. Most of mine deal with “head” issues – situations and feelings I’m struggling with or excited about. Fran, there is much commonality in the way we think about life and the world… your expression of life hits the nail on the head for me many times. Thank you for your thoughtful and “deep” comments!

            Like

  10. Good morning, I am cecilia and have popped over from Lynda’s to visit. And I am so glad I did. What a stunning piece of writing, how lovely to live so close to wild animals as you do. I hope you are going to have a magnificent summer… celi

    Like

    1. Thank you Celi! I see you on Lynda’s blog a lot! I had such a wonderful time visiting Lynda and Bob. I’m glad you stopped by to read about Daisy. She’s been an amazing little deer. I’ve written about her since the day we found her. This journey with Daisy has been amazing. I hope her story continues for many years! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

    1. Yes Nathan, it would be great if Daisy became a mother! You can bet I’ll be keeping everyone updated on her progress the next couple of months. It could be a very exciting summer!

      Like

  11. Always love reading your updates! I felt like I was right there with you the whole time. Look forward to hearing about the next adventure and curious to hear if she will still be as friendly with a baby of her own!

    Like

    1. I’ve wondered how Daisy will behave as a mother! I’m sure her offspring will be wild and run from humans, which is fine. Whatever Daisy chooses where we are concerned will be fine. We’ve always respected her ways. Thank you for your kind comment!

      Like

      1. 🙂 hopefully she will be cautious enough to protect her baby but still willing to trust you. Can’t wait to hear more and am sure you both are excited as well!

        Like

        1. I couldn’t agree more! So much of nature is instinct-driven. We will be respectful of Daisy and her wild ways, yet be open to what she feels comfortable allowing us to take part in. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted in the next couple of months. Regardless, it is an exciting time in the woodlands for all creatures. Spring presents all sorts of new life!

          Like

  12. Coyotes are becoming a big problem in Niagara these days.
    They’ve been scooping up small dogs, but that’s what happens when Man infringes on an animal’s territory…
    Great post, my lovely friend!

    Like

    1. Thanks, Hook! Yes, coyotes are a problem here too… as are those horrible wild hogs. I do worry about fawns in the spring with the high coyote population. That was one of the worries I had when we first freed Daisy, but she managed just fine. It’ll be up to her to protect her little fawn someday too.

      Like

    1. Thank you Charlie! Daisy is an amazing girl. All winter, only seeing her from a distance and about a mile out, I didn’t hold hope that she would have much to do with us if we did happen to see her here on our property. Yet, after all of this time away she still gives us licks on the face, neck and arms, just like she did as a little fawn. I am thankful for every moment we are allowed to spend with her!

      Like

    1. You are such a Sweetie! Yes, I’m back after a couple of months of winter travel. I’ll be blogging about that shortly! I’m so happy that Daisy has returned to her old “stomping” grounds and that she brings her friends. I hope I can get some photos if she frequents the feeder during the daytime hours. I noticed the expectant does fed 2 or 3 times a day the last couple of months of pregnancy. I’ll be sure to share photos and keep everyone updated!

      Like

  13. NICE!! I have often wondered if you have seen Daisy again and I am so happy she is ok. Soon you will be a grandparent, of sorts. Can’t wait to read about that and maybe see a few pictures. Great stuff, as always Lori and it might surprise you how happy I am reading this wonderful post.

    Like

    1. It does not surprise me at all! I know what a softie you are about Pumpkin… and I’ve always known you adored Daisy. I sure hope to get some pictures of her in the daylight hours soon so everyone can see how robust she is! Right now we’re seeing her around 10:30 at night at the feeder and water tub, and usually she has a friend or two with her. Two nights ago she was bedded down just beyond the feeder in the tall grasses with another doe. It makes me so happy that she has come home. I really missed her the last 3 months! Thank you Mike, for your always kind comments!

      Like

    1. Oh, I wish you a lovely week too! It’s beautiful here this morning… a little windy maybe, but the temperatures are warm and balmy. I love the springtime! I saw Daisy again last night, grazing in the pasture just south of the house. She had a friend with her so I didn’t bother. She’s shedding her winter coat, and I can see just a bit of summer coat coming in. She looks a bit ragged, but those beautiful doe eyes and long lashes are always the same! I hope to have some photographs of her if I can catch her during the daytime hours.

      Like

    2. She is an excellent writer, mizouila71. Her posts always grab me and paint pictures in my mind. I think Sundog should write a book (hint, hint).

      Like

  14. Lori, It is a delight to read your story about the latest exploits with Daisy. I haven’t been able to visit recently because I am currently offline at home. Now that I am living in a country town I can appreciate how dark it is at night without the light pollution of a large city.

    The Southern Cross looks so large and bright in the night sky of Castlemaine.

    Like

    1. Oh, isn’t it lovely to be removed from the chaos and noise of city life? I am so happy for you Margaret! As for Daisy, I will update a good bit in the next month or two! The deer activity is picking up in our woods, especially the feeding! We witnessed this last year as the does got closer to birthing fawns. I take it as a good sign that Daisy has returned to her home this month!

      Like

  15. It’s very special that deer dear Daisy has returned to you more often as she is approaching birthing time. It makes me think her trust and love for you as people who have cared for her is coming to the forefront more as she anticipates caring for her own. This relationship seems a most marvelous gift for you and for her as well. I love reading your blog.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. This journey with Daisy is amazing in so many ways. I’m not sure I ever thought much about how it would be with her, I just rolled with whatever happened. I get emotional sometimes, thinking about how she’s changed our lives, and those of the neighboring area. Her messages have been many, and yet I wonder what we have given her. All I know is, there is understanding of something deep… I cannot explain it in words.

      Like

  16. Have I mentioned how much I love your stories about Daisy? This will be an exciting spring and summer for you, no doubt. I hope all is well on those ten acres, and that she will continue to frequent her old sanctuary and home away from home. You are for sure blessed to have been able to know her as well as you do – just as she’s been blessed to have you and FD. It’s a marvelous connection you have, one that I can easily understand.

    And then, there’s…

    Finding comfort in the darkness. As you say, her messages are many and that’s one I need to pay attention to. I feel pretty fortunate to be “in on” those messages from you and her. They’re valuable beyond even our (yours and mine) understanding.

    Like

    1. Wow, Sid. Thank you so much. You have that right (your words make me a bit emotional). I really need to make more time to write about those messages too, because there are many more. I have always had vivid dreams at night, and the last year or two some of the frequent animals here come to me in dreams. No speaking takes place, simply telepathic-like understanding. There is always and understanding or message. In the past I wondered that folks might think I had banged my head and was a bit of a nut… but now I realize that the Universe/God speaks to us in many ways in order for us to understand. The planet and it’s living plants/animals – life – is crying out with messages about how we are living and treating one another. It is a time to listen, and a time to choose change and create something better. We are living in an important age…

      Aw, Daisy has touched many. and I suppose, we touched her too with our love and protection of her. Lately, she has come often to spend time with us in the evening hours. I can’t help but think she remembers being a little fawn and how she came to be here on this little patch of land… wanting the same for her own fawn in the near future.

      Like

Comments are closed.