This Was Not Supposed To Happen…

For the last couple of weeks, I have had so many topics for blog posts running through my head that I wanted to write after the New York City series, that I have been itching to get on the computer and let my fingers fly. My mind has been so full of new ideas, recent happenings, and other updates, that I have not been able to get through a simple, little task or chore around here without thinking about the next post. Would I write about all of that roasted tomato sauce I had been mass producing for weeks now? Or should my first post be an update on Daisy and her twins?  Plus, I have all of these photographs from weeks past that I want to share. But then yesterday evening, a new topic came to the forefront.

It seemed to be a hard summer for Spirit, being driven from her mother in May, then heat and pestilence in the woodlands. Spirit looks a bit rough around the edges.
Spirit looks a bit rough around the edges. It seemed to be a hard summer for her, having been driven from her mother in May, then dealing with heat and pestilence on her own in the woodlands.

While I was preparing dinner, FD came in the kitchen announcing that Spirit, Daisy deer’s fawn from last year, was at the feeder and he was going to take some cherry tomatoes down to toss to her. I replied that was great and it would be at least thirty minutes until dinner anyway. We had been seeing Spirit a good bit lately, as she had been trying to get back in Daisy’s fold by hanging around hoping her mother would allow her to stay. At first, when her twins were still small, Daisy did not want Spirit anywhere around at all. She would run Spirit off every time she came near, sending her deep into the woods.  But over the last three weeks, Daisy has been allowing Spirit to tag along with them. Once able to get close to them, Spirit was very curious about the new babies, and it did not take long for her to accept them. And the twins seemed to enjoy having a big sister, often following Spirit around in the evenings. Spirit seemed content to be back with her mother and, one day, I even noticed Spirit babysitting her siblings. Seeing this brought back memories of when Daisy was a yearling and I would observe her down in the bottom, near the old water tub, watching a fawn or two that belonged to Scarlet, a doe from the local herd. Now, seeing Spirit doing the babysitting, I was convinced it must be a common practice for does to allow yearlings to babysit their older fawns.

Laying in the deer plot FD planted for the deer this spring, Spirit looks after her siblings while Daisy is off in the nearby pecan orchard.
Lying in the food plot FD planted for the deer this spring, Spirit looks after her siblings while Daisy is off in the nearby pecan orchard.
Spirit is alone with her siblings after a morning outing in the pecan orchard.
Spirit is alone with her siblings after a morning outing in the pecan orchard.

With Spirit back in the fold, FD and I had the opportunity to observe her from close distance, and I had a growing concern about Spirit. She had not looked well to me. She was generally bedraggled, her mid section was very large and odd looking, and she seemed tired. My first thought – always one of worry – was that she might have a tumor or something else wrong with her. But, she was likely getting plenty to eat, as it had been a very good year for vegetation with so many welcome rains. And of course, we also keep high-protein deer chow, corn, and fresh water down at the bottom of the slope. Still, she did not look well to me at all. I mentioned something to FD about my concern, and he agreed that she looked unusually large in the belly, even compared to Daisy. He suggested the possibility that she could have come into estrus late, which would make for an unusually late pregnancy for a deer, but we discounted this idea after we looked at her rear end. There was no sign that her udder was filling with milk.

Daisy loves to go to her old deer pen most evenings. We still have a nice stand of clover, lambsquarter, spurge, chickory and a few other "weeds" that the deer love to munch on!
Daisy loves to go to her old deer pen most evenings. We still have a nice stand of clover, lambsquarter, spurge, chicory and a few other “weeds” that the deer love to munch on!

So, back to last night. When FD returned to the kitchen shortly after he had gone off to toss some cherry tomatoes to Spirit, I was a bit surprised at his demeanor. He looked very serious, only saying, “Come outside with me. I want you to look at something”. I looked back at him quizzically, let him know I was in the middle of cooking, and asked if it could wait. But again, this time with a bit more urgency, he stated, “I really need you to look at this”. So, now fraught with worry, I quickly turned off the stove burners and wiped my hands. All I could think of, was that something bad had happened to Spirit.

The last photograph of Daisy looking unwell - FD was throwing her cherry tomatoes which she loved to gobble up!
The last photograph of Spirit looking unwell – FD was tossing her cherry tomatoes which she loved to gobble up – but now was only interested in two or three.
Slim Spirit_7017
The slim and, though still a bit rough around the edges, glossy-coated Spirit with a voracious appetite!

I did not even make it off the porch before I saw what FD wanted me to see. I stared in disbelief and, though I knew exactly what had happened, I did not want to believe it. FD looked at me and said that he had not even been sure, when he first saw her, that it was Spirit. But, with no sign of alarm after talking to her and beginning to walk towards her as she drank from the water tub, it was obvious that this was, indeed, Spirit. So, while I scrambled to put shoes on, I asked FD to fetch the camera and we walked down the slope together, still in disbelief at what we saw… or rather what we did not see! Our big-bellied, yearling granddeer, that had looked so tired and unwell, was suddenly slender and sporting a voracious appetite! As I moved around with the camera, I only managed to get a couple of shots of Spirit’s newly expanded udder and extended nipples that had obviously been suckled. Spirit was a mother!

It is quite apparent someone is nursing these days... that udder wasn't there just a few days ago!
It is quite apparent someone is nursing these days… that udder wasn’t there just a few days ago!

FD and I talked about how this must have happened. Spirit would have conceived in late January or sometime in early February, long after the normal rut of November, and even after the “second rut” which occurs in December when the un-bred does of the first rut come into estrus once again. For Spirit’s pregnancy to have happened, which it obviously did, a buck would still have to have hard antlers and enough testosterone to be interested in a doe in estrus. FD thought back to an evening this winter when he had seen a buck chasing Spirit down the slope near our pool. Daisy, who we felt had been bred back in November, was alongside Spirit that night, but the buck’s interests were clearly focused on Spirit. Apparently, Spirit was healthy enough to have started estrus, even though it was very late in the season for a buck to be interested.

Just as we had witnessed with Daisy the year she birthed Spirit and Rowdy, Spirit now displayed an urgency to eat quickly and get back to wherever it was her baby was hidden. But, before she could finish eating, Daisy and the twins showed up. Though Spirit still cowered from Daisy, she had no desire to deal with her siblings and quickly hoofed poor Heidi away from the feed pan. This must have been confusing to Heidi, as her sister, who had been so fun to hang around with, was now on the warpath! This behavior too, was something we had witnessed with Daisy as a new mother, and now Spirit had that “Mama attitude”. There was a new confidence about her and she was ready and willing to defend her “nursery” territory.

Spirit is still a yearling herself (just 14 months old) and this being her first birthing she tore a bit. Normally a doe has a singlet the first time, but as you all know, her mother Daisy had twins the first time!
Spirit is still a yearling herself (just 14 months old) and, being her first birthing, she tore a bit. Normally, a new mother has a singlet but, as you all know, her mother Daisy had twins the first time!

Back in the house, I finished preparing dinner but could not take my mind off of Spirit and her newborn fawn. At least in Oklahoma, I thought, this baby  stands a chance of surviving the winter if we do not endure unusually harsh temperatures and weather conditions. I wondered if Spirit would come into season again during the November rut, if she had finished nursing this fawn by then. Ultimately, I knew that nature would take care of things, and there was nothing my worrying would help or solve. Moreover, it was clear that Spirit was nursing and was in “protective mama” mode. She looked healthy. And she had trotted back west into the woods with urgency. It was her first time for motherhood, but what did I really know of nature and its ways? Perhaps it would all be just fine.

Of course, there I was this morning, out in the woods enduring the sweltering heat and mosquitoes, hoping to capture a photo of my first great-granddeer! But I know it may be a while before I get that photograph. The woods are still too lush with poison ivy, brambles, and slithering snakes for me to venture very deeply into them but, by golly, I will keep watch! And, as Daisy did with Spirit and Rowdy, and Heidi and Dancer, Spirit will bring her fawn around when the time is right… or could there be two… hmm…

We see Spirit at the feed bucket and corn feeder throughout the day. A nursing mother needs good nutrition!
We see Spirit at the feed bucket and corn feeder throughout the day. A nursing mother needs good nutrition!

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


66 thoughts on “This Was Not Supposed To Happen…

    1. Thank you, Paulette! I am truly realizing the gift of nature. It is difficult to believe this started with a little orphaned deer named Daisy. Being able to share what I am learning here and observing, is such a heart-felt journey. I am happy you are a part of that, Paulette. 🙂

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  1. Wow! Just wow! As always, I love reading your stories of Daisy, and her offspring! So exciting to read about Spirit now being a Mama! Guess that makes you a Great Grandma! Congratulations!

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    1. Hi Cindy! Yes, it’s pretty amazing and I’m so happy. These unexpected happenings are little miracles in life. Spirit surprised us! I will be positive about a gentle winter season here in the south, and I hope Spirit and her new little charge do well! You know even the great grandma’s tend to worry!

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    1. Thank you Yvonne. I think we’ll need some prayers for an easy winter. This new baby doesn’t have the 2 months start that Daisy’s fawns have, and I have to think it must be a little toughie to come into the world so late. What an experience this will be!

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  2. Congrats on your GREAT Granddear, what incredible news! I don’t think you will ever lack for topics to write about, especially with all the things that go on at your place. I love that Spirit has stayed nearby, even though she wasn’t raised by you like her mama. I LOVE surprises like this! Enjoy!!

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    1. Oh Jules, I am truly enjoying this summer surprise. Perhaps Spirit is helping me with my problem with “worry”. If she is a new teacher, then I am a willing student! 🙂

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  3. Holy MOLY! Now THAT was unexpected! Congratulations Great grandma! Are you ready for that moniker yet?! ;). She was working on delivering that present for your birthday ;). Can’t wait to see a photo (when you find it/them) of your great grandbabies 🙂

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    1. Ha ha! Thank you Fran! I was just telling Jules, that I suspect the Universe has more for me to learn about this issue I have with “worry”. As humans we plan everything and have expectation. Spirit did as nature intended, and there are no mistakes… therefore, I must observe and learn! Gee, I’m so happy to be with so many great blogger people on this journey. You are all the best encouragers! And yes, you can bet you will all see the photos as soon as I can secure them – though I feel they’ll be hard won this time. Spirit is even more sneaky than Daisy!

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      1. Lol! I reckon she has been learning from my chooks. I can’t believe the lengths those sneaky minxes go to to stop me from finding their eggs! Every day I have to wade through blackberries, mud, goodness only knows what (and there be LEECHES!) just to get their pearly orbs and I don’t even eat them! 😉

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        1. Ha ha! Just like the days on the prairie here in the Midwest US. Back in the day the children were sent to look for eggs, and to guard the livestock – before the days of fences and pens. Leeches? EW!!! I’m not too fond of those! 😀

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    1. Hi Cherity! Thanks for commenting. I wanted everyone to feel what I felt – I guess it worked, at least for you! Isn’t it a lovely thing to have surprises when you least expect them?

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  4. Good story. I like how you kept us in suspense. I hope your little grand-fawn will thrive! We’ve seen an odd thing here two seasons in a row: a cow moose with a little doe that follows her around. We wonder if they adopted each other during a harsh winter.

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    1. Thanks Monica! I believe there are a lot of surprising happenings in nature and that anything is possible. How sweet is the moose and doe pairing up! Have you ever gotten photos?

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  5. That is exciting news. Looking forward to future updates. You know the saying, ‘Life is what happens while we are busy making plans’ (or worrying, as the case may be!) Don’t worry, be happy.

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  6. How absolutely brilliant! You and your deer are such a wonder to me.. beautiful shots too.. fantastic news that she is happy healthy and your herd? flock? mob? is growing.. c

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    1. Ha ha! Yes, Cecilia, the herd is growing! We made a trip to the farm store get more high-protein deer chow and corn this weekend. I hate to think what we spend on our deer, but I chalk it up to entertainment and spiritual therapy. My life has changed since the arrival of Daisy deer… and the blessings just keep coming for FD and me. I am grateful for what nature has brought (and taught) me!

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          1. I know I think too much… the only quiet my mind gets is when I sleep – and even that’s iffy at times if I’m busy dreaming! I do like knowing and understanding the lesson. It is easier to move on when we “get it” finally. 🙂

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  7. Loved the pictures. Can’t wait for the pictures of the baby/babies. Hope it is twins. This is great.

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    1. Thank you, Ruthie! All I got today were mosquito bites and no photographs. I walked in the woods where I saw Spirit last night but no luck seeing her or a fawn. Spirit showed up at the water tub about 8:30 and then moseyed over for chow and corn… right on schedule. FD tried tossing cherry tomatoes but that must not be on a nursing diet. She flat refused them!!

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    1. As far as we can tell Spirit looks good and appears to be nursing. Either I’ll stumble upon the baby or she’ll bring it out in about a month. You can bet I’ll be toting the camera around a lot more now!

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  8. Great to learn about the Spirit Surprise! I too was worried until you revealed the good news. Good news to read to start a new week! Look forward to more, as nature reveals its secrets to you!

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  9. Don’t you love it when a post just walks into your life? No need to think, just write!
    So exciting ‘Grand ma’! 😃 I’m sure you’ll be spotting the little one soon, you’re good like that.
    Congratulations! !

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    1. Thank you! Gosh, I didn’t think about it but I do rather love it when a post just “walks into my life”! I’ll keep the camera handy and maybe spend more time walking the woods. That’s how I’ve managed to get shots of Daisy’s kids. Deer are so secretive with their babies!

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    1. I think everyone is fine as far as I can tell, Henrietta. Spirit comes regularly for water and feed, and grazes on the clover and deer plot a good bit – appears to be nursing. It may be a month or so before she comes out with her little one. We will probably wait until we see the baby to name it. It’ll have to be a unisex name again (like Dancer) since we don’t know if it’s a male or female.

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  10. Great read, but that’s not unusual!
    I read the first few lines and then started reading it from the end, knowing there was a ‘twist’ in the ‘tail’!
    Strange, and awesome, are the ways of nature.

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    1. Ha ha! I could not fool you! It isn’t unusual in nature to see late births, but it makes for more of a challenge for the young to make it through the winter months. I think here in the southern US deer have an easier time of it during winter, but that brings about its own problems. Deer often deal with pestilence year-around here where up north where the temperatures drop more, they get a few months reprieve. I hope this late arrival will do well. Already it appears Spirit is a fine mama, doing her job to provide protection and nourishment!

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  11. Oh, was worried – then thrilled. So glad Spirit came back to safety and family. She needs special treats tossed to her! Life can be such a joy – especially when you find yourself in the right place at the right time – a contribution to make to the natural order of things. Trusted Deer mom and dad.
    (Experts say the wildlife/birds are doing exceptionally well here this year. Rains came at the right time, mild winter and We’re having cooler summer than usual…with showers. Wondering if there may be an early fall – we don’t normally have cool-ish fronts so early – and we’ve had 3 – few days of 100…not complaining, but watching “farmer signs” about coming winter.)

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    1. Oh, same here – we are having an unusually cool summer with ample rain. I am seeing signs of fall in the air… just a slight change. Daisy and her twins are frisky, like they tend to get in the fall cool weather. It’s still green around here which is unusual for August and I am not complaining. I hope it stays lush for a while longer so this baby can put on some good weight before winter returns.

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  12. Perhaps it is just the Women’s Health NP in me, but as soon as I saw that first photo, I thought “pregnancy!”. So glad all seems to be well 🙂

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  13. Fabulous! An ever expanding family all made possible by your nurture and love for Daisy. This is sweet and tender and wonderful stuff Lori. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Mike! Daisy has brought us so much joy… and now Spirit is a mama. Sometimes I just can’t believe how tremendous this story is… who knew a little deer could change my life so much? 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I have had three years to be with the deer and each is beautiful in its own right. The bucks too are magnificent, but I don’t get to spend much time up close with them. Thank you for commenting! ~ Lori

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