Looking through the kitchen window while cleaning up the last of the breakfast dishes yesterday morning, I noticed a bit of orange in the neighbor’s backyard. Sure enough, Daisy deer was bedded down in an area where snow had melted. Here, she had found a bit of protection from the north breeze that had picked up since dawn. I did not see Spirit, but I knew she was likely located somewhere near Daisy. They were never more than twenty feet from each other.
I quickly donned my jacket and grabbed the camera, shouting to Daisy as I walked towards the neighbor’s fence. I had planned to climb over the fence, but when I stopped to take a photograph from a distance, I was concerned when I saw Daisy’s face through the zoom lens. The mucous I had noted and wiped from Daisy’s left eye a few days before, had increased, spread to both eyes, and some of it appeared to weep down her face to her nose and mouth. I found Spirit just a few paces away from Daisy, and her left eye still seemed irritated as well, though not weepy like Daisy’s. I decided to leave them be, to rest and chew their cud. I headed back inside and watched them from the kitchen window. At times, Daisy curled up in a ball with her head tucked alongside her body, eyes closed.
When I saw Daisy get up about an hour later, I decided to head down the slope to the feeders to check the corn and refill the deer chow pans. I had managed to drain, clean, and fill the wildlife tub a couple of days prior, so the water was still clear and fresh. I have tried to do this once a week, but this winter’s weather has made it a fairly brutal task. After exposing my bare hands to water and the below-freezing air temperatures, they often became numb and solid red in color.
Daisy and Spirit reached the feeders before I could get my buckets filled with feed and then navigate a safe path to the bottom of the slope. Spirit waited while I shook corn to the ground from the hanging feeder, while Daisy snooped around for fruity kibbles in the bucket I’d brought with me. One look at Daisy’s face and I knew I had to try to help her shed some of that frozen mucous. So back up the slope I went for a warm bucket of water and a soft dishcloth.
After Daisy gave her approval of the wash cloth, by sniffing and licking it, she allowed me to gently scrub her face. At one point she rubbed her face against the cloth herself, seeming to enjoy the feeling of “scratching the itch”. While cleaning Daisy up, I noticed the sclera (white area) of Spirit’s left eye was red and a small bit of white mucous was present at the corner. Her other eye looked fine. There was nothing I could do for Spirit. I had never been able to get close enough to touch her.
After getting Daisy as cleaned up as she would tolerate, I left her and Spirit to feed a bit, and then came back down with the camera a while later. Daisy seemed on high alert, looking off to the north. In no time I saw a raccoon ambling down the animal trail along the fence line to the pecan orchard. Daisy moved forth in protective mode, ducking under the fence and stomping at the intruder. Daisy may not have agreed, but I thought how fortunate I was to see a raccoon during daylight hours! As it disappeared into the distance, Daisy began grazing on leaves and twigs in the area, and Spirit followed suit. I watched them work their way north, into the freezing fog of the pecan orchard.
At the top of the slope I walked to the bird feeders, checking to make sure there was plenty of bird seed to fill tiny bellies, helping to keep energy up and bodies warm. All sorts of winter birds swarmed the feeders. I saw a lone squirrel in the yard, nibbling on a pecan that had likely been stored for winter use. Every critter seemed to be doing the best they could to survive the most bitter winter I can remember in my twenty-four years in Oklahoma.
This morning, the weather woman reports that we have just one more day of this arctic deep freeze and then the temperatures will be more spring-like. I hope a warm-up is just what Daisy and Spirit need to get past their eye troubles. I hope it gives nature a reprieve from the harshness it has endured for several months now. And I hope that the harsh days of winter are over. For in just two weeks, I normally start planting the early vegetables and herbs for my garden. I am ready to have my hands working the soil, and feel the warmth of sun on my shoulders, and to welcome the gentle rains of spring. I am ready to see the woodlands come alive again!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…