A few weeks back, my mother-in-law brought news of her delight to learn that a great-granddaughter wanted to spend a few days here this summer. Most of FD and my families live in various states across the US. Only a few have made roots in Oklahoma. So, it was wonderful to know we would have nine-year-old Riley Jo here to spend a few days helping out and have some fun too.
In the mornings, while it was still cool, Riley Jo worked with great-grandma in the garden and in the flower beds. She helped to feed the chickens and gather eggs in the afternoon. In the evenings, I would see them taking walks around the property, or riding bicycles in the nearby neighborhoods. They also came over to our home to deliver eggs, and sometimes to swim in the pool. Whenever I saw them, I could tell my mom-in-law was enjoying every bit of the visit from her great-granddaughter.
While swimming one afternoon, Riley Jo mentioned that someday she hoped to be a veterinarian who traveled the world helping zoos with animals in need. So, when it was time to take our dog Bear to the vet for his annual exam that week, I asked to take Riley Jo along, thinking she might learn something from the expert vets on staff. Actually, Riley Jo entertained the staff with her knowledge of animals, and when we began discussing Bear’s recent seizures, Riley asked some very good and important questions. I was quite proud of my great-niece!
When we returned home from the vet visit, we found Daisy deer alone at the water tub down below the slope. Apparently the fawns were resting elsewhere. Wanting her to have the opportunity of a closer look at Daisy, I cautioned Riley Jo to come down slowly after me, and not to make any sudden moves. I greeted Daisy in my normal manner, but she was still very alert about the stranger behind me. As you know from some of my previous blog posts, mother deer are protective of their territories when they have babies in the area. So, mamma Daisy ignored my attentions and went straight to Riley Jo to investigate.
Thankfully, I had the camera with me to capture what came next. Daisy sniffed Riley Jo and seemed particularly interested in her t-shirt, which had a puff-paint image of a unicorn on it. Investigating further, Daisy licked the shirt and tried to nibble it. She sniffed Riley’s long hair and tugged at it. Riley Jo was not sure what to do about all this, so she laughed and nicely stepped back, but Daisy’s interest was piqued, and back to Riley’s shirt she went, licking and nibbling and being quite assertive about it! Amazingly, Daisy hung around right next to Riley Jo for the next forty-five minutes to an hour, and I was able to manage several nice photos of the two of them.
The next day, Riley’s mother, brother, and little sister came to fetch her home. Upon hearing of Riley’s experience with Daisy the day before, her siblings hoped for a chance to see and pet her as well, but Daisy was nowhere to be found. They did manage to find a little ring-necked snake back in the woodlands though, so we had a quick lesson about where they lived, what they ate, and what kind of predators sought them. Of course, like most kids, they wanted to keep the snake and take it home for a pet! I told them why we needed to return the snake to its home and how we can learn from just observing it, but that we should let all wild creatures be free. I told them that, even though I was “mother” to Daisy since she did not have one as a baby, I still knew that I could not keep her in a cage, because she was a wild animal that needed her freedom. I had to let her roam the woods and live her own life as deer are intended to do.
Pretty soon, the kids discovered a spider and Jaci, the youngest, came to tattle that her brother was going to smash the spider! But I could see he was simply teasing his little sister to get a reaction from her. With Jaci assured the spider would not be smashed, we observed it closely. This was a young, female garden orb, and I told the kids how the orbs were very friendly and beautiful spiders. I explained all that I knew about these handsome creatures, and that I actually loved seeing them in the flower gardens and in the vegetable patches. After learning of the spider’s value, Wager piped up with, “We better leave her alone now, so she can catch some bugs”. The lesson was complete.
I hope this little trio comes to visit again soon. Maybe this fall, when the weeds are down and the snakes go into hiding for the winter, we can hike back into the woods and find all sorts of adventure. We might climb the giant hill to the secret places Daisy and I used to venture to, and sit under the cover of the tall, old cedar tree deep in the woods. Perhaps we will see rabbits and armadillos, or maybe just peer into their burrows. And just maybe, we will stumble upon a few old skeletons of animals that lived their lives in the wild, and found peace at the end.
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…