Early last week, the Oklahoma weather warmed up to temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s, which is almost unheard of for January. Having such nice weather, I enjoyed time outdoors, working in the woods, burning fallen limbs and doing some tree trimming and general cleanup along the pathways in our woods. The weekend before, FD had run the chainsaw to cut up much of the larger timber that had fallen last spring in the canyon below our house. As the ongoing drought had kept us from doing much burning last summer, I plugged away gathering wood from the summer stockpiles we had created, and burning it on the warmer, calm days we had early last week. Then the wind arrived on Thursday, and ended my fun. It is not safe to burn on windy days, and depending on the wind gusts, sometimes it is not even safe to be in the woods should a “widow-maker” limb be blown down from above.
With the wind howling furiously outside, I found myself rather restless on Thursday. I had hoped by working outdoors those previous days, that surely Daisy and Spirit would catch my scent in the light breeze and come to visit. That often happened when I took walks through the woods, and on longer treks to the river a mile away – I would just be walking along and, poof!, Daisy would show up. So, when it became overcast after lunch, I decided to walk to the river and see if I could find my two girls. It had been since early January that FD and I had last seen them, bedded down one night in the pasture just south of the house. I missed them terribly and, what with all of the fawns disappearing this past autumn, I just could not shake the thought I had in the back of my mind that their extended absence might mean something grim.
There was much to observe along the way… there always is. The animal trails – and there are many – are always ever-changing, and something new or discarded can be found along the way. Depending on the time of year, the scenery is ever-changing too, but to me, it is always beautiful, and I never know what I might find along the way. I certainly understand the inclination of deer and other wildlife to roam this alluring expanse between our home and the river. And today, I really hoped I would see Daisy and Spirit.
Starting out, I chose an animal path along a southern fence line. With the wind blowing out of the south, my scent would carry to the north, so if Daisy was anywhere near the old river channel or along the running river, she would be able to detect my presence. But as I plodded along, I saw not one deer. In fact, I saw only a few deer pellets (scat) and hoof prints. No armadillos, no skunks, no coyotes, and only a few birds. Finally, as I neared a wheat field not far from the river, a flock of blackbirds rose from the field and put on quite a show. A black mass, like a cloud, moved rapidly from ground to tree. The whoosh of wings could be heard as they neared me. I stood for a bit, watching them land to feed on the winter wheat again. And as I took one step forward, the black cloud lifted, and in perfect synchronicity, all the birds within the cloud flew to the north and east, landing in a long-dead tree, bleached white by the sun. I thanked them for such a splendid show, and moved on to my river destination.
As I reached the high ridge overlooking the river and looked about, I did not notice very many hoof prints in the dirt of the paths down to the water. “Where were all of the animals?”, I wondered. Usually, I saw so many. Somewhat bewildered, I took a few photos of the river and turned to head back home. I was disappointed, and had to remind myself that it was normal for Daisy to disappear for lengths of time from late December through March. Though she has been on her own for three years now, I still never seem to be able to check my worry when I have not seen her for two or three weeks at a time. Oh well, I suppose a mother will always worry… So, as I crossed the fence back to our own property, I put a message out to Daisy on the wind, telling her that I loved her and I hoped she and Spirit were doing well.
The next morning, as I stepped out on the back porch to feed our orphaned squirrels, Punkin and Mr. Gambini, I spotted the color orange, at the deer feeder below. There was Daisy! I scrambled around to get her favorite fruity kibble snacks and some deer feed, and quickly headed down the slope. Soon Spirit arrived and they both headed to the water tub, taking big, deep pulls of the fresh water. Daisy stopped for a little corn as well, but they seemed anxious to move on. I walked with them as they grazed on woodland grasses and browse. For forty minutes, I weaved through the trees and saplings, vines and briers, following their slow, leisurely pace and enjoying some time with “my girls”.
As we reached the west end of our property, the strong smell of skunk interfered with my delightful moment. Daisy froze, as did Spirit. I froze too, closely observing the girls as they watched some movement just a few feet away. Thankfully, Pepe Le Pew sauntered on, passing just a few feet from us. Even with the skunk moving on, Daisy and Spirit quickly jumped the fence into the neighbor’s bottom land! Apparently deer are not fond of skunks either! I also made quick tracks to head back to the house, moving in the opposite direction of Daisy and Spirit, when suddenly I was catapulted to the ground. Something had me by my yoga pants and, as I felt myself flying forward, all I could think of was, SAVE THE CAMERA!!
And save the camera I did. Not a blemish nor bit of dirt or debris touched it. I can not, however, say the same for my yoga pants which now have a nice rip where an old, rusty line of barbed-wire fence snagged them up. And, I should probably be thinking about getting a tetanus shot since the barbed wire gave me a nasty gash in the calf as well. This is another one of those times when I think it would be very nice to have long, slender legs like Daisy has, and little dainty hooves. But all in all, I guess I should just be thankful the skunk decided to move on – or I might not only be bloody, but stinky too!
It is always a good day when I get to walk with Daisy and Spirit in the woods – even when it makes for a little more early morning adventure than what I have planned!
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…