Quiet and Crackle in the Woodlands

All snug in the bed this morning at 7:30, I debated in my mind whether to get up or stay put. It was a little too early to be outside with the camera, capturing the frozen state of the landscape before the morning breeze got up. It would be too dark to capture decent ice images with the camera. On the other hand, it was late for me to be lounging around. I decided to catch the news in bed, and laze for just a few minutes longer. I grabbed the iPad and checked the morning email and weather updates.

This adventurous squirrel had no trouble scampering around on the icy trees!
This adventurous squirrel had no trouble scampering around on the icy trees!

There are some aspects of technology I enjoy. I am often teased about my old cell phone. It is not a smart phone and half the time it no longer rings or emits a sound to inform me of a call or a text message. I check it periodically to call or text someone back, but I maintain that I do not like to be at everyone’s beck and call anyway, and I truly do not desire to be so connected with the outside world. The iPad, however, has been a wonderful gift from FD. It is reliable when I need it for information, and it alerts me of incoming messages. There is nothing demanding about it. So this morning I looked through the email, perused the WordPress app for comments and notifications, and finally decided to migrate to the coffee maker.

Frozen Oak Leaves
Frozen Oak Leaves
Even the pool cover has its own cool ice appeal!
Even the pool cover has its own cool ice appeal!
This woodland tree provides a splash of vivid red on a cold, gray morning.
This woodland tree provides a splash of vivid red on a cold, gray morning.

The first call of duty though, was to let our three Japanese Chin out to do their morning business. Zoe and Bear stepped on to the frozen grass (now dormant) not venturing out very far. I am sure I would not enjoy stepping out onto ice in bare feet either, first thing in the morning! Mr. T did not want to go down the icy stairs. He is our big fella, and a tumble on slick ice is a lot harder on him than Bear or Zoe. He looked at me with an indignant attitude as if to say he was not proceeding. I assisted him where he eventually wandered to the driveway to do his business on the rocks. Apparently smooth rocks are more appealing than crunchy, cold grass.  Of course, Mr. T required assistance to get up the stairs too. I guess at the very least, as a critter mama, it is nice to know my eight year-old still needs me.

Young cedar encrusted in ice.
Young cedar encrusted in ice.
Frozen Seed Pods
Frozen Seed Pods
Currant Leaves Laden in Ice
Currant Leaves Laden in Ice

Once back inside the house, I headed to the back porch for a gander down the slope. There I spotted Daisy deer bedded down near the dry creek, chewing her cud. Spirit was nibbling some frozen ivy near a hackberry tree. I checked the feed trays with the binoculars and they appeared to be empty. Coffee would have to wait. Daisy and Spirit usually did not stay in one place for very long, and I wanted to spend a little time with my girls. I donned my insulated camo jacket and matching pants. This outfit was a gift from FD during the holidays last year. It was the only reason I ventured a mile out to the river during the winter last year, and what I generally wore if I spent hours in the cold temperatures, waiting for wildlife shots with the camera. I would surely need the warmth this morning. The breeze had not gotten up yet, but I could hear the crackling of ice in the trees. It would not be long before the woodlands would be a treacherous place to be walking around!

Daisy and Spirit stop to nibble shoots from the base of the old apple tree.
Daisy and Spirit stop to nibble shoots from the base of the old apple tree.

I scooped feed into two buckets and made my way down the slope… very carefully. I was thankful we had let the grass on the slope grow longer this autumn. Had we cut it short, I would have slid all the way down the steep grade this morning. Daisy rose from the weed patch she had bedded down in. She knows fruity deer snacks will be mixed in the feed. It is a treat she has enjoyed from the time she was a wee fawn.  I busted the layer of ice that covered both pans. Something had already managed to chop some of the ice, likely a critter that was hungry in the night. Once I got Daisy and Spirit fixed up with feed, and I scattered a bit of corn on the ground for Spirit, I made my way up the slope to fetch the camera and zoom lens. I would capture some ice shots before the breeze got up.

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Daisy and Spirit nibble on oak leaves from an ice-laden branch that would normally be too high up for them to reach.

IMG_2460 IMG_2454

By the time I got inside for the camera, I saw Daisy and Spirit had come up top to nibble around on whatever they could find up here. We laugh about our yard deer, but it has become a bit of a novelty to have them around the house. It must be a safe place since Daisy birthed her twins here this past spring, and made her nursery in the iris beds across the pasture. This morning I snapped shots of Daisy and Spirit, nibbling frozen leaves from trees, heavily drenched in ice. I watched Spirit root around for frozen dandelion leaves, while Daisy kept an eye on the neighbor’s dog. The neighborhood was still quiet at this time. Not a car was traveling down the icy streets. It appeared to be a sleepy morning on the outskirts of town.

As I crossed the pasture in search of interesting frozen matter, I marveled at the crunch and crackle of the grass. Above, a light breeze gently rocked the glassy, ice-weighted trees creating a snappy tinkle, then splash of ice. Suddenly, Daisy and Spirit took off running, high-tailing it to the woods. A small, yapping dog running loose down the street had spooked them, and they wasted no time making an exit to the cover of the trees. I followed them, eventually finding them at the feeding area, where I had started my morning chores.

Daisy sniffs scent that another deer left on this low-hanging branch.
Daisy sniffs scent that another deer left on this low-hanging branch.
Daisy proceeds to rub her own scent on the branch, from glands near her eyes.
Daisy proceeds to rub her own scent on the branch, from glands near her eyes.
Daisy spends several minutes sniffing and applying her own scent in one small area of the slender tree branch.
Daisy spends several minutes sniffing and applying her own scent in one small area of the slender tree branch.

Eventually, the girls made their way down the path to the food plot. Daisy rubbed scent from the glands near her eyes, on a slender tree branch. I wondered about this continued ritual since I was just sure she was already bred last week. I mistakenly thought her rutting habits would be over by now. A local seven-point buck had been busy setting up his territory in the area for several weeks.  By rubbing his antlers on slender trees to leave his scent, he had destroyed many young trees in the area , including my new pear tree. Daisy had been avoiding him and gave him the slip last week when she disappeared for several days. She had come into season, and evidently had other ideas about courting another buck! So this poor fellow had continued to make his daily rounds, not finding a doe…  at least that I know of! Still, here was Daisy rubbing her scent on a tree branch. I make plenty of observations about the deer, and especially my Daisy girl, but there are many habits and rituals I have questions about and will never get the answers to!

Spirit waits and watches her mama rub scent on a nearby tree. Spirit will experience her first rutting season next November when she is a yearling.
Spirit waits and watches her mama rub scent on a nearby tree. Spirit will experience her first rutting season next November when she is a yearling.

Finally, I gently petted Daisy and scratched her woolly face hair. I picked a tick from her jaw, and told her to be safe since it was the opening day of rifle season. I saw her wander back to the west, where I had noticed deer Scarlet and her twins, and the seven-point buck yesterday. Perhaps Daisy and Spirit and their friends would spend the day safely in our neck of the woods. And I prayed that Mother Nature would bring the ice down gently, protecting all woodland creatures from being hurt.

And wouldn’t you know it – I left myself out of the request to be kept safe from harm. I promptly fell forward on my way up the slope! No worries though… I managed to keep the camera safe from injury!  And me?  Just a little wounded pride. Nothing a hot cup of coffee wouldn’t fix!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


55 thoughts on “Quiet and Crackle in the Woodlands

    1. Oh, thank you! That means so much to me to hear that… makes me want to do a better job of taking time to write down all of these thoughts in my head! I’m good to get out with the camera but terrible about writing the story.

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    1. Mike, you are right about that! I’m getting another dose of heaven this morning with snow falling, and the woodlands are gorgeous! I haven’t seen my girls yet, but I’m sure Daisy and Spirit are nearby! It is Spirit’s first snow.

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  1. I’m very glad you ventured out on an icy morning because you shared such wonderful photographs. Each one is enchanting. And it’s always makes me happy to see Daisy and Spirit. Just curious as to whether you expect to give Spirit a collar sometime. Daisy’s suits her well. Thank you for such a lovely start to the morning.

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    1. Thank you Barbara! The word “enchanting” is a real compliment and I appreciate that! We have tried various homemade collar designs since Daisy was little, and she seems to do well with these two types that she currently wears. One is reflective and tears away easily. The other is a bit heavier duty, and designed to unsnap should Daisy get hung up on something. Unfortunately, we will probably never be able to get one on Spirit. She will venture within about 5 feet of us, but no closer. She’s more wild than her mother, and even though she has always known her mother to allow human touch, I do not think Spirit will ever allow us that. Hopefully, hanging with Daisy will deter folks from harming her. Mostly we worry about the busy road just 1/4 mile away. Deer often cross and get hit, especially during the rut. Our neighbors to not lease the pecan orchard to hunters so unless a poacher trespasses, hunting season is a minimal worry.

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  2. I must now go and pray about my covetousness and envy of you…I want to live where you live, see what you see every day, and write as well as you write! My word, I was captivated from the start. Oh, as if your story weren’t enough, you had to throw in the wonderful photographs too? They not only made me want to take better pics, but made me homesick for New England for a moment or two also. Great Post!! Thank you.

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    1. Gosh, thank you Kim! That just made my morning! The start of winter has been a bit magical here… this morning we have been showered with snow, a little sleet and now gentle rain. Mother Nature is the real artist here… I am fortunate enough to capture it in photograph and try to reveal the story, but somehow words seem so inadequate. I’m glad you could feel the experience. That makes me smile!

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  3. Pure crackly winter gorgeousness Lori :). I love every single bit of this post…I am sitting here at 4.49am and Bezial kicked me out of bed at 2am so I am just starting to wake up properly. A good (bucket) of hot tea helps and that rooster crowing under the deck below my feet certainly helps the old brainbox to twitch a bit faster. I adore how you capture the essence of wildlife and your frozen seedpods and leaves are incredible. I reckon Daisy is telling everyone that “this is MY patch!” and to remember that. Marking the area around where the food is delivered would be a smart thing for a protective mother to do. Its a bit like Earl whenever he spots roadkill now… I might not let him dive in or roll in his prize but he finds the very next sprout of grass and pees on it just to let everyone know that “this is MINE…stay away!” ;). Maybe Daisy is just reminding all of the more timid deer that she IS the boss around here and that never ending food supply is hers to share or not share as she sees fit…Queen Daisy and Princess Spirit :).

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    1. Thank you Fran! You always make me feel so good. I saw something amazing about a month back that I didn’t manage to photograph with the camera. It was unexpected and happened so quickly. I saw Daisy go hoof to hoof in battle with Scarlet. Daisy didn’t win because she’s smaller in size, but she didn’t lose either. She never backed off. It was AMAZING! They rose up on hind legs at the same time and hooves began clacking! I was up on the porch and I saw it happen in the trees just behind the feeding area. Daisy was ferocious! I know that was the kind of ferocity she must have delivered the day she defended her buck fawn, little Rowdy. She may be small, and she may have been raised by human parents, but she is every bit a wild deer, with tremendous instinct and to be what she was born to live! She has made this her home territory. She has made that apparent.

      I’d love to have a bucket of tea with you some day, my lovely and free-spirited friend. Maybe even a cup of glog… surely not a bucket!! LOL

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      1. A bucket of glog, I fear, might be our undoing ;). I think that Daisy is so tenacious is precisely because she was raised by humans. She knows that she is different but she also knows that her place is your place…she defends her turf and in the process she is defending her upbringing. It would have been amazing to see her take on a bigger doe and kudos on her for not backing down…I bet her human mum was proud 🙂

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        1. Oh I was proud indeed! I have also heard from others that witnessing something like that is not common. I do wish I’d had the camera… even blurry shots would have been amazing.

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  4. Wow, two posts in three days…you’re on a roll! I love the descriptive language you use here:
    “As I crossed the pasture in search of interesting frozen matter, I marveled at the crunch and crackle of the grass. Above, a light breeze gently rocked the glassy, ice-weighted trees creating a snappy tinkle, then splash of ice.” — Very nice!
    And about your fall — you sound a lot like me when I was attacked by the rooster, more concerned for your camera than yourself, lol. Glad you and the camera came out unscathed!

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    1. Oh, Kim, that rooster episode has me laughing again! Now I’m going to have to go back and read that post again! Ah, sometimes our silly and awkward moments are the most memorable! I love my camera. It allows me to share so much of nature and compliments the story of life here. Thanks for your always beautiful comments. You make me feel good!

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  5. Wonderful pictures! it was worth to go out by this frosty morning. Nature is dressed with a siver coat for the pleasure.of our eyes. But please, be careful and take care! you might have broken one of your legs or something else. I personally am afraid of walking on the ice. 🙂 Have a nice evening my dear!

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    1. Nature puts on quite a show in all seasons. Today we had snow and I just finished an hour walk with Daisy and Spirit. I observed the berries and plants that they ate. They eat a lot of fallen leaves, and even bark and twigs! They were a beautiful sight with the white snow as a background. They have dark, woolly coats the color of the trees. Nature provides amazing camouflage! It is late night for you now… I wish you wonderful sleep and beautiful dreams, dear one!

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    1. You know I love keeping everyone informed about Daisy! I just messed up my wrist a bit, trying to break the fall. I have an old injury to that wrist anyway, so it’s ongoing. Falling up is a lot easier than falling down!

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  6. I just found your blog, and am very much enjoying your writing. I love hearing about your deer, and the photos you take are just lovely. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Gee, thank you so much FarmGirl! I am glad you enjoy my writing and photographs. It makes me feel good to know my words and images touch people. Daisy is a special gift who has changed my life. I’m happy to have you on board, my friend! It’s always wonderful to meet new friends! Enjoy your week too… whatever neck of the woods you live in!!

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  7. Wow! Stunning photographs! Especially the “young Cedar” and that gorgeous Daisy.
    I relate to this because I don’t even have a cell phone. It’s dangerous at times I suppose, but I truly think it’s best for me and keeps me from being too “plugged in”. I know that lifestyle doesn’t work for everybody and I am a computer right now but I have to draw the line someplace.

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    1. Wow Susan! A rare find to meet a person who doesn’t feel the need for a cell phone! I am such an introvert that I do not appreciate the interruption in my day. I have never felt the need to be so connected with people and social activities. I love my quiet life here. I like being close to nature, getting back to basics and growing and harvesting my own food (as much as I can). FD and I are lucky on that note. We have fashioned this life. He has to be more social and technical with his work, but at home, it is a relaxing and rewarding way of life.

      Thank you for such a nice comment about the post. Daisy is such an inspiration to all of us… to enjoy what nature provides and to graciously accept.

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  8. Beautiful post, Big Sister! It “almost” makes me look forward to snow, but then I’m pulled back to the reality we live in Nebraska, and I remember it’s always better to visit your winter down south, LOL. The photos are absolutely stunning! And your story made me feel as if I was right there with you, crunching the ice as I stepped, and watching Daisy and Spirit in their natural habitat. I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt too bad when you fell “up” the slope; whatever would you have done with only that clunky old “dumb phone”? Ha ha!

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    1. Ha! I didn’t even have that phone with me since I left it on the charger! It’s so old that the batteries won’t keep a charge anymore. Alas, I will have to bite the bullet one of these days and get a smart phone – one with GPS so I can be located, wandering the woodlands! Thank you for the lovely compliment on the post. I think you would love our winter weather here. Maybe someday when you and Mr. C retire you can spend winters down here!

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  9. Absolutely gorgeous. Worth more than just this blog. You should put photos like these into a book about the beauty of nature. Makes Autumn and Thanksgiving come alive and so enjoyable. The timing with the upcoming Holiday of Thanksgiving was wonderful. Thank you so very much. I will share this with others, also.

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    1. Aw, thank you so much! So many of you inspire me to get out even more with the camera. I appreciate your lovely comment. I am working on a book about my experience with Daisy deer. It’s proving to be quite a project (I feel unorganized and all over the place – not knowing what I’m doing), but one I hope will be a reflection of the gifts of nature. Comments like yours are inspiring to me. Thank you for that.

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  10. Awww that cedar in ice and those seed pods, too! They look frozen in time and just right out of a fairytale. You really have an eye for capturing these things. Great choice in background as well ^_^ your blog is wearing a gorgeous seasonal drape now. The iPad really is a great thing! Especially now that Plants vs Zombies 2 came out for mobiles. Hrrrr I want it.

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    1. Ok, I admit, I had to Google Plants vs Zombies and I watched a video. How hilarious… ya gotta love it! Thanks for the nice comment about the photographs. The last 3 days being outside with the camera has been amazing. Daisy and Spirit seemed to be enjoying themselves too!

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    1. Thanks Yvonne! Thank goodness for warm clothing especially designed for long periods outdoors. Although nothing beats the beauty of Daisy and Spirit’s coats… they’re just beautiful!

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  11. Your photos remind me of how much fun I had shooting winter, snow, and ice last year. I am such a fun of winter and the opportunities for photography are endless!). Lovely post!!

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  12. This was really an excellent post I enjoyed it tremendously. I loved your ice photos and always am thrilled to keep up with the adventures of Daisy and Spirit. What a wonderful area you have to explore! Lucky you. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Phil! I do a lot of roaming around with Daisy and Spirit this time of year, although I wish the temperatures were about 20 degrees warmer! Daisy and Spirit seem to enjoy the cold – it makes them a lot more frisky!

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  13. Gosh, Spirit is getting so big! I love this time of year, because of all the beautiful moments created by the ice and frost 🙂 Although I will be mighty glad when the warmer weather comes around again!

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    1. You and me both Rachel! I am always glad for the warmer temperatures to make their appearance and stay! Spirit is growing and just about as big as her mama. Scarlet’s twins have been around a good bit too and Spirit is just as developed as they are, which makes me wonder if she will outgrow Daisy. I think Daisy is genetically a smaller deer.

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  14. A beautiful post, and your last comments made me laugh, Lori! How many times I have fallen and lay there taking a physical inventory… and then announce:

    “It’s OK, the camera didn’t get broken!” 😉

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    1. I know, Lynda! I guess I feel like my camera is one of my most prized and important connections with nature. It allows me so share so eloquently, my perspective of life on this little piece of land… and beyond. It’s like having another set of eyes… so yes, I’ll protect it at all costs!

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  15. Stunning photos and wonderful articulation of a road less travelled. Great to read and imagine something different for a change.Helps us think about the environment and why we must preserve it.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am so very thankful that at this point in my life, I am able to bond so much with nature and wildlife. It has shown me much in the way of caring for our planet and the wonderful living creatures and plants that abound here.

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