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.
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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…