Here on the ten-acre ranch, weekends are normally a fairly laid-back affair. We work, we play, we go to bed later than usual, and get up later than usual. It would probably be easier on us if we kept with our normal, work-week sleep schedule, but there is just something a tad rebellious about changing it up on the weekend. We overindulge in coffee or tea until almost noon and we eat when we like, sometimes having breakfast for lunch or dinner. Occasionally, we even skip lunch altogether. We may begin the day with some kind of project in the plans, and then, for some crazy, unknown reason, choose to be pool slugs for the afternoon instead. Weekends are a free-for-all. We do as we please.
Yet, even with our laid-back approach to the weekends, there still is a general routine. I am the first to rise, since my side of the bed happens to be nearest the location of the dog beds where our three Japanese Chin snooze through the night. I take that back – they snooze through most of the night. I know they sometimes prowl around the house too, because I hear the food bowls rattle after the lights go out or, if I get up in the middle of the night, I might find one sacked out on the cool, tile floors in the kitchen. Anyway, in the morning, I hate to make the dogs wait longer than usual to go outside to do the first bathroom business of the day, so I get up when they begin to stir. I rub my eyes, plod to the front door to let them out, and keep watch just in case there is trouble lurking nearby. It has happened before where wild dogs come up from the woodlands or stray dogs wander in through the gate at the drive. Weekends tend to be when city people let their big dogs roam to do their business on somebody else’s lawn. I have never seen a coyote on the place in the early morning, but it could happen, and our dogs are a small breed so I feel it is my duty to keep watch and protect them.
Once back in the house, I make myself a cup of coffee and start up my computer. While the familiar sound of whirring and beeps signals a good boot-up process, I go back to the kitchen to fetch fresh water and food for the dogs. And, as a bonus, everyone gets a little cheese snack for doing their business outside and coming back in promptly! Well, the dogs get a cheese snack anyway – I do not usually reward FD for doing his business outside, even if he does come back in promptly!
This past Sunday morning, I looked over what I had on hand for whipping up a simple breakfast. I found fresh eggs, cheese, and a partial loaf of almost-too-dry homemade bread. Well, open-faced egg sammies it would be then, I decided! This would make for a simple breakfast, allowing me a no-fuss, but filling meal with easy cleanup. What an excellent way to start a lazy Sunday!
After finishing our simple, but leisurely breakfast and a few cups of coffee, FD and I lingered at our computers a bit longer. I try not to spend too much time at the computer in the mornings because, like all good farm girls, I know that the earlier I get outside, the easier (and cooler) my outdoor tasks will be. The Oklahoma heat had arrived this past week, and generally by noon, it was way too hot to be doing chores. Reminded of this, I quickly cleaned up the breakfast dishes, while FD headed out to run an errand.
With my inside chores compete, I donned my sun visor and stepped out into the bright sun of the front yard. Ugh. It was already very humid and the wind was blowing briskly. I moved on to the water hydrant to connect the first of a series of soaker hose stations. I looked out towards the garden, thinking I had better get that hydrant going too. But, before another thought could enter my head, my eyes were drawn to some movement along the fence near the garden. Then I saw SPOTS! Not just one set of white spots on a reddish-brown background, but TWO! Daisy had her fawns together! And it looked like she might be taking them on a Sunday morning outing!
Wanting to get some photos of this rare time with the twins together, I scrambled back to the house for the camera! Since the birth of Daisy’s fawns, I have made a habit of keeping my camera, with the zooms lens attached and batteries charged, in a handy location. Daisy has been very secretive about her activity with her fawns so, I want to be prepared for the times when I am lucky enough to spot her! These days, I’m more likely to catch Daisy alone, or with only one of her fawns, either nursing or taking one or the other to the woods for the day. And, until this Sunday morning, I had not seen Daisy with both fawns together since the day they were born. This was indeed, a special photography moment!
Upon arriving back outside with my camera and snapping some shots, I observed how cautious Daisy was about her fawns being somewhat out in the open. Always on alert with her body in protective stance, she watched all around, her ears cocked in different directions to listen, while her nose caught every scent that carried in the morning breeze. She was the most beautiful vision of a mother I had ever seen! I thought of how fortunate and proud I was to be witnessing such a site – something many never have the opportunity to see or experience, while others never take the time to really notice the world of nature around them, to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
We live on the outskirts of town. A narrow street borders our eastern property line, while an alley runs along the southern property line. Woodlands run along the west and part of the northern border. This Sunday morning, as the fawns exited Mom’s iris beds, Daisy led them to the shaded pasture very near the street along our eastern border. While she kept watch, the two fawns romped and ran – seeming as oblivious to the activities of the neighborhood folks as they were of the orange-collared, whitetail doe and her two fawns playing nearby. Eventually, Daisy led the twins westward through a thin grove of trees in the center of a larger pasture that borders the alley along the south side of our property. Finally reaching the western end of this pasture, the trio lingered briefly before they disappeared into the woods.
As Daisy and her little family reached the end of the pasture, I thought about how, in all of the time Daisy allowed play near the street, and kept watch, none of the passers-by had noticed them. Even people out for a walk were unaware of the little family. It was at that moment that something dawned on me! It had been a daily event for Daisy to see people and vehicles on the street during her first eight months of life in the confinement and safety of her pen. Even when she was free and on her own, she often chose to bed down in Mom’s iris beds, feeling safe there despite the close proximity to the street along our eastern border.
I thought about how many times back then that I had seen Daisy grazing in the pastures, totally unnoticed by people passing by. She was always cautious and wary, but few humans ever became aware of her presence and none ever stopped to bother her. And, what predator would come from the woods to prowl where humans resided? I thought about how many times I happened upon a wild critter while walking or working in the woods, only to have it turn and run in fright. I realized this is because humans are the greatest predator of all animals – even of those that prey upon other animals. But Daisy had been far more clever and protective than I had given her credit for. She had learned that her enemies in the animal world would not readily venture so close to the world of humans, and that the humans, at least in this area of her home range, were not a threat to her. I quickly realized my superficial thoughts about why Daisy placed her fawns so near Mom’s house and the street, were no match for Daisy’s wisdom and instinct in recognizing where she had an oasis of safety for herself, and now for her fawns as well.
I remembered too, that there was a time when I was oblivious to what was right in front of me. Just like the people of our neighborhood, I was consumed with thoughts and plans, or just plain stressed out from the day… I was simply going through the motions of life. But Daisy taught me to slow down, to spend time observing, and to experience life in each moment. Witnessing her alertness and keen senses taught me to stop, look, listen, smell and touch. And, when faced with times of fight or flight, she had shown me the wisdom of simply following one’s instinct.
With a heart full of thankfulness for the experience of raising Daisy, along with a few tears of understanding as I watched her lead her fawns into the woods, I realized that Daisy had actually raised me. And I understood, by her keeping them at distance from me now, she was creating an intimate environment in which to pass the gifts she so intimately shared with me, on to her own offspring. I also realized that, in some way, I would be on my own now, just as her fawns would be on their own someday.
With the help of their spots as camouflage, the very spots that had actually caught my eye this morning, the twins melted in to the cover of the woods. I saw Daisy turn back to look my way from the opening of the pathway they had taken. But I would not follow her now. Instead, I looked lovingly back at her as I walked to the house, and I hoped she sensed that I understood…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…