A Case Of Mistaken Identity…

Lately, FD and I have spotted Daisy’s rival doe “friend”, Scarlet, feeding at the base of the slope. Just yesterday, we found her and her doe fawn from last year nibbling on corn and eating deer chow from the feeders below. Scarlet is still very pregnant and I would not be surprised if she has triplets this time, she’s that big! Since having her baby two weeks ago, Daisy generally runs off any critters, including deer, that venture into the immediate area, so I was a little surprised to see Scarlet spending time at the feeder. But then, I was not sure where Daisy was at the time.

A very pregnant Scarlet!
A very pregnant Scarlet!
Big as a barrel, Scarlet heads back into the woods while her yearling doe snacks on a little deer chow.
Big as a barrel, Scarlet heads back into the woods while her yearling doe snacks on a little deer chow.

Because we typically spotted Scarlet alone, we suspected that she had hoofed off her twins from last year. After all, even Daisy had hoofed off Spirit just before giving birth to her fawn, and surely Scarlet would deliver hers any day now. Often, we would see the siblings together at the corn feeder in the early morning hours. We have also spotted Spirit bedded down alone in the pasture at night, and sometimes found her by herself, nibbling clover in one of the deer plots down below the slope. I felt bad for her, as I knew she had become so used to being at Daisy’s side for a year, only to be suddenly pushed away. This had to be a confusing time for Spirit.

But then one morning, Scarlet showed up with her doe fawn by her side. Apparently the doe had not been hoofed off yet! A couple of hours later, a pair of yearlings showed up for feed, so FD and I took a closer look through the binoculars. We quickly determined it was Spirit who was having a snack at the feeders with Scarlet’s buck, as the eyes were definitely Spirit’s more almond-shaped eyes. Our thoughts were confirmed when FD approached the deer and Spirit remained at the feeder, not bothered at all by his presence. The little buck snorted and moved back into the woods a distance, but keeping an eye on the situation with his new-found friend. Spirit was not rattled at all by the presence of this human, as this was her grampa after all!

Early morning finds Spirit eating clover down below the slope.
Early morning finds Spirit eating clover down below the slope.
Scarlet's Buck in velvet getting a little corn for breakfast. He and Spirit visit early in the mornings and sometimes bed down at night just beyond the feeding area.
Scarlet’s Buck in velvet getting a little corn for breakfast. He and Spirit visit early in the mornings and sometimes bed down at night just beyond the feeding area.
Spirit getting a good sip of water at the wildlife tub. Notice the mosquitoes on her face and she shakes her right rear leg to ward off irritating flies.
Spirit getting a good sip of water at the wildlife tub. Notice the mosquitoes on her face and she shakes her right rear leg to ward off irritating flies.

I marveled at the friendship the little buck and Spirit developed over the next few days. The buck was quite playful at times, and we watched him gambol and leap in the pasture, while Spirit stayed at the blackberry bushes, nibbling leaves and generally ignoring this silly friend of hers. Other times, we found them bedded down below the slope, lying within a few feet of each other, but also far enough back by the pecan orchard fence to keep Daisy from running them off. The two had become frequent visitors to the feeders, and I wondered if Spirit simply longed to be somewhere near her mother. After all, this had been the only home-base she had known as a fawn.

Having mistaken Spirit for Scarlet’s doe fawn in the beginning, I admit that I was disappointed in myself in a way. I thought I knew the deer around here so well, and just assumed the pair of yearlings I had been seeing were Scarlet’s twins. Here Spirit had been visiting quite often, and I had not even noticed it was her with the little buck. Oh well, I thought, from here on out I will just have to slow down and be more observant. As it was, I was missing out on all sorts of activity in the woodlands and its critters by keeping with my busy schedule. Mostly, I had been distracted by Daisy and her new baby, and trying to get photographs of her new little charge any chance I could. That feat alone proved very difficult, as Daisy was being super secretive this year and photographs of her and Heidi were hard to come by.

Two days ago, I was doing some hodge-podge mowing down in the canyon in the immediate area just below the slope. Hodge-podge is my term for disorderly, patchy mowing. With Daisy and Heidi bedded down somewhere nearby, and not wanting to disturb them, I do not feel I can mow everything like I normally do. Because of this, we let a good part of the “nursery” area go unmowed for a month or more, until the fawn is more mobile and Daisy begins to show it a wider range of her territory. We also do not burn brush at the burn pile all summer either. No sense in scaring off the grandkid you know!

I had just finished my mowing when I spotted Daisy on a knoll just up from the burn pile. This is the area where she often kept Rowdy last year, and where we had already seen Daisy bedding Heidi this year. Quickly, I ran inside the house for the camera, and then headed back to the knoll hoping for some pictures of Daisy and Heidi together. But Daisy has been famous for giving me the “slip” this year, disappearing in the blink of an eye and, sure enough, she was gone when I returned. Instead of heading back to the house though, I decided to take the buggy path down into the woods and see if perhaps Daisy had taken a lower path down through the vegetation on the side of the knoll.

Recent rains had left the buggy path slippery and treacherous for me and my big feet. I stayed to the sides of the path, being careful not to let poison ivy brush up against me. Already the darned mosquitoes were attacking me. About to go crazy with the sound of a tiny mosquito buzzing in my ear, I randomly swatted at my head and wondered how on earth any critter could dwell in these conditions? Suddenly, I saw movement coming from atop the knoll. Coming through the thick vegetation and down the side of the knoll just 25 feet from me, was Daisy and Heidi and… (gulp) my heart beat wildly!!

Daisy's Surprise_5330 Daisy's Surprise_5342

Just days ago, FD I had finally discounted our gut feelings about Daisy having twins. Despite her large belly and her huge udder, and after a couple of weeks of seeing only one fawn, I gave up on my inner voice. I had even commented to FD that the girl fawn he held in my first photograph of Daisy’s baby this year, sure looked different from the fawn I photographed in the iris beds in his mom’s backyard. I thought the markings and coloring sure seemed different, but eventually decided the fawn was just growing and changing as it became another week old. As it turns out, Daisy had fooled us all of this time.

I have not seen the fawns together since I stumbled on to them coming down the side of the knoll with Daisy that day, and the photographs I shot of them from the buggy path were in very dark conditions, so they are poor quality. But I was still able to glean some things about their personalities as I observed and photographed them. One fawn is mindful of Daisy – generally keeping near her and following. The other likes to be in the lead, and is a spunky and free-spirited little dancer. It takes off on a wild run, “mewing” delightedly like a kitten as it scampers around. Watching the two of them with Daisy was like watching a scene from a year ago with Rowdy and Spirit.  Spirit was a good girl, and Rowdy was always snooping around or running amuck!

Twins 2014_5347 Twins 2014_5348 Twins 2014_5349

So, the photo of FD holding Heidi in “While We Were Away…”, is the real Heidi. FD was able to physically determine she was a female. But the photos of the fawn in “Natural Beauty That Will Never Be Miss America Or Miss USA” are of the newly discovered twin that we do not yet know the sex of. After looking at last year’s photos of Rowdy and Spirit and observing closely the head structure and coloring, it could be that this mystery, blue-eyed beauty in my second post is a male. But, we will not know for sure for several more months because, until a buck fawn develops “buttons” – little bumps where his antlers will someday be – it is often difficult to determine sex.

Daisy and Twins_5354 Daisy and Twins_5355

Safely atop the knoll, Daisy bonds with her babies, attempting to get them settled for the afternoon.
Safely atop the knoll, Daisy bonds with her babies, attempting to get them settled for the afternoon.

It is clear that, with raising Spirit and Rowdy, and now Heidi and Dancer, Daisy has grown to be one clever mama. But it is also apparent that her job raising me up is not yet finished. Obviously, I have a lot more to learn about being a clever girl and tapping into instinct. Oh well, I am sure Daisy understands that her mamma is a little “different” and sometimes slow to learn. But I think she loves me anyway…

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


43 thoughts on “A Case Of Mistaken Identity…

  1. That is awesome! I had been wondering this whole time if you had been right because you two seem to have a very good instinct with these things. Glad your gut proved true!

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    1. Thank you… it was a feeling I just couldn’t shake and when I resigned to the thought that there was probably only one, it just didn’t fit well. I won’t be such a doubter next time!

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  2. Love it! That sneaky Daisy, fooling you two like that. Soon you will be having dozens over for thanksgiving celebrations. Be sure to make some corn. And apples.

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    1. Ha ha! I think we need to plan our retirement around how we will feed this growing family! Meanwhile, I will keep planting fruit trees and oaks so we’ll have plenty of acorns!

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    1. Yes, Nathan, she has a full plate! Although this year she seems more calm and her secretive nature is really apparent. I am proud of her. She’s such a good mama.

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  3. Now you not only have a deer-daughter and grandkids, but you seem to have picked up a “friend of the family” (Scarlett), who will probably be bringing her kids around, too. Not to mention you may have a son-in-law by next year!!

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    1. Oh, Sue… I hadn’t thought that far ahead! This is Scarlet’s third year here too, and we’ve often wondered if she might have been Daisy’s mother or aunt. This herd could be big in just a few years.So far Daisy raises her kids to accept the chin, so all is good. We’re kind of a blended family – humans, canine, and deer!

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  4. Sooo … that means Daisy voluntarily brought the buck (?) to show you 🙂 How wonderful to be loved and trusted that much by wildlife. Enjoy your twin grand-deer babies. Laura

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    1. Thanks Laura. I don’t know if Daisy meant for me to see them or not, since I came around one side of the knoll while she was coming down the knoll from the opposite direction, but she continued her journey despite my presence. I think she understands I respect her need for distance, and she doesn’t mind me poking around nearby. In a month or so she will bring them out more and her little ones will understand their mother accepts us, and they won’t be terribly afraid of us. Spirit actually allows us within 5 or 10 feet. Just being able to be around them is a wonderful thing.

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  5. Very, very clever Daisy for fooling us all for so long! It seems Daisy is going to have a knack for twins. How wonderful for you to see both fawns playing together like that 🙂

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    1. Daisy is a seasoned mother now, and perhaps it’s just as well she’s secretive and keeping us out of the loop. I tend to worry less about her this year. She seems confident and less worrisome than last year. I do notice she’s an eating machine! I’m so glad we put in those four deer plots to help feed the masses. She is really enjoying the one here by the house… most of the other woodland deer won’t come this close to humans!

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  6. Twin fawns – how cool. A friend of mine has some land in Northern Minnesota with deer that consistently and constantly produce twins. We’ve seen them for years now.

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  7. I like how you see Daisy as your teacher — the animals really can teach us many things if we just pay attention (and watch out for those assumptions!). I’m curious though: you say that FD determined that Heidi is a female but that it won’t be possible to tell if the other one is a male unless you see his antler buttons? I, ahem, “assumed” that you were checking their gender by poking around in their hindquarters area, no? I’d think a male is easier to distinguish that way. But then again, maybe you meant it’ll be hard to know because you haven’t been able to get your hands on the other one yet…yes? I hope I don’t drive you nuts with my questions — I tend to ask lots of them!
    And I have an update about the fawn in our yard: I made contact with a local rehabber who will be on standby in case we need help. But the fawn stood up a couple times to change positions this morning and it looks in very good health at this point. So I’ll just keep watching….and enjoying this special peek I’m getting into its life.

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    1. I’m glad things are looking good with the little fawn. It is such a special time for you to observe and get a peek into the life of a fawn… even if just for a day! As for Daisy’s twins, Heidi was determined a female by looking at her girl parts. We won’t be able to get a “hands-on” look at this other fawn because it’s two weeks old and already they jump and run at this point. Catching it would be impossible. And, just noticing the hanging down area of the male isn’t very easy with deer. Even when a grown buck has shed its antlers after the rut, it is hard to tell a buck from a doe except maybe by size and muscularity. All we can do now is wait about 6 months to see if we notice the little antler buds that protrude if this fawn is a male.

      Oh, you can never bug me with too many questions. I do the same thing because I want to learn and how else can a person learn? 😀

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    1. I know Sandy. I’ve thought about that and the recent coyote sighting this spring. Believe me, I don’t just make trips down in the insect infested canyon just to see Daisy and the twins. I hope to put my human scent around down there so all animals know a human frequents those areas. I’m no dummy… Daisy taught me well! Er, uh, well, I don’t urinate to mark my spot though like she does! 😀

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  8. Daisy lost one fawn last year and there is no WAY she is going to lose another one! What a very clever mamma she is! I thought that my chooks were clever leading me a merry dance in order to find where they were hunkered down on our 4 acre property sitting on eggs (slinking from tree to tree when you are wider than the trees and “slinking” doesn’t come naturally and you also have big feet makes it somewhat difficult…) but Daisy takes the cake! I am most impressed especially as you guys were SO focused on her and intent on finding that fawn that it would have been virtually impossible to hide another one…Kudos Daisy, you have earned the right to keep both of them this year 🙂

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    1. Daisy is doing a great job and she is so much more relaxed this year. I know though, the older they get, the harder it is to keep them hidden. They’re so rambunctious and lively that she’ll have a hard time keeping up. It would be a wonderful thing for her to keep both this year. I saw Spirit tonight. She was with that little buck friend of hers again. 😀

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        1. I might lose track of the numbers and I won’t always be able to hike around and follow like I do now… but I know I will always love the presence of the deer!

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          1. Imagine how many deer will be hanging around in a few years time, you will just be able to sit on the porch with your camera and wait for them to come 🙂

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  9. I just love your photos and your writing. So much interest and well, the discovey that Daisy had twins after all has got to be exciting for you and FD. The deer are precious in my book.

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    1. Thank you so much Yvonne! Discoveries like this are always so delightful and fill our hearts with joy. FD and I are very excited. Not much gets done around here this time of year – we get sidetracked a lot!

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    1. Hi Lynda! The rain has kept me from doing much yard work so I’m lucky to be able to play around with Daisy and I try to keep the camera handy. Now, if I was just a little bit better at being sneaky! I just don’t think it’s possible to fool Daisy! 🙂

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  10. Haha me and my big feet, that made me smile! I often feel like such a doofus when hiking, compared to animals that is. We humans are so massive in comparison! Seems like we’re unfit to tip-toe over things, we just sort of waddle and tumble along.

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    1. Isn’t that the truth? Ha ha! FD is like a seasoned old goat when we go on hikes. He leaps and carries on way ahead of me… me, who twists my ankles, curses a little at my ineptness in climbing, getting winded and hot lagging far behind. I watch the deer with amazement – so agile, nimble and quick. Now then, what would you do with a set of hooves? Shoes… polish? Ha ha!

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  11. Felicitaciones, me encantó todo lo por Ud. publicado….”verdaderamente es maravilloso”…Cordiales saludos de Serenisimo

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