Wondering and Wandering

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.

Crossing our property fence, I walk into the neighbor's pecan orchard. This area is gorgeous in the spring and summer months.
Crossing our property fence, I walk into the neighbor’s pecan orchard. This area is gorgeous in the spring and summer months.

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.

Blackbird Flock_9575 Blackbird Flock_9577

A flock of blackbirds entertains me with swift movement ... I can hear the whoosh of wings!
A flock of blackbirds entertains me with swift movement … I can hear the whoosh of wings!

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.

Only the wind seems to tunnel along the river bank this day... no sign of animal life.
Only the wind seems to tunnel along the river bank this day… no sign of animal life.
A hunter has discarded the head of a young buck. The antlers have been sawed from the top of the skull. The coyotes or vultures have stripped the hide and meat from the bone. The lower jaw bones were laying nearby.
A hunter has discarded the head of a young buck. The antlers have been sawed from the top of the skull. The coyotes or vultures have stripped the hide and meat from the bone. The lower jaw bones were laying nearby.

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”.

Daisy already eating her fruity kibble snack, while Spirit has some corn.
Daisy already eating her fruity kibble snack, while Spirit has some corn.
Spirit picks up scent... perhaps the fox has marked this area.
Spirit picks up scent… perhaps the fox has marked this area.
Daisy catching up to Spirit.
Daisy catching up to Spirit.
Nibbling a few greens and browse.
Nibbling a few greens and browse.
Daisy still grooms Spirit.
Daisy still grooms Spirit.

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!!

Daisy is on high alert!
Daisy is on high alert!
Spirit and Daisy both freeze as the skunk comes nearer!
Spirit and Daisy both freeze as the skunk comes nearer!
Both Daisy and Spirit leap the fence to distance themselves from the skunk!
Both Daisy and Spirit leap the fence to distance themselves from the skunk!

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!

Daisy and Spirit_9609

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…


48 thoughts on “Wondering and Wandering

  1. Great shots and a wonderful story! 🙂
    Many of my relatives are avid hunters… who hunt deer a lot. I’ve got one brother-in-law who has a whole taxidermy family of deer mounted on a wall in his family room; that is both sad (and ironic). At family parties I’m often shown pictures of what was recently “bagged”… which always irks me; I’m a vegetarian.
    Your shots are much more full of love than theirs!

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    1. Hello Thomas… and thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I have never understood the need to brag or discuss what was “bagged” for the season. Taking on Daisy deer did change things quite a bit for us. I think having any kind of relationship with animals should prompt us to have respect and appreciation for the species. I can tell you I love nothing better than a quiet walk in the woods with Daisy and Spirit. I sort of “become” a deer… taking care to be quiet (with big feet that is tough!), observant, and in the moment.

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    2. I’ve got hunters in my family too. While I understand how hunting can help feed the family, I do not understand the need to hang “trophies” on the wall to prove your hunting prowess. I’ll never forget the time my young nephew (maybe 10 years old) proudly handed me a wall plaque on which was mounted a turkey beard and feathers. It was his first kill, I think. I was sick to my stomach the rest of the day.

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      1. Yes, and in a way, some of that “trophy” would just be discarded. The Native American’s used feathers in decoration, so I’m not against using it in some decorative manner. I hate the thought that many hides are no longer used and that sinew and bone also goes to waste (we live in such a disposable world). But to go around showing it to folks being proud of a kill, I just don’t see the point. And, not everyone is interested in seeing that… as you stated.

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  2. You are an entertainer, as much as you are a writer, and photographer, Lori! You’ve described the ‘reunion’ with the ‘girls’ so well, the narrative seems ‘live’. As I’ve said earlier, it must be a heavenly experience to be where you are, as opposed to the maddening, congested cities where most of us humans think we live – and thrive.
    That said, the so-called winter in Bahrain has all but ended – with the day temperature now touching 25C. Just a few weeks before we start experiencing what we call the Desert Days!

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    1. Oh my! Sounds like the perfect time to enjoy the weather before the inferno comes sweeping in! I am grateful to live where I do. I cannot imagine life where you live, Mandeep. You present it very well in your blog, from all perspectives… so I get a glimpse of your environment. It helps me appreciate deeply, what is beyond my back porch.

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  3. As always, thank you for sharing your nature events with us. I am so glad that you were able to spend time with Daisy and Spirit. I’m still sad about their little ones. Your photos are gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Sue. My heart still aches for all of the little ones too. Often, as I walk to the river, I look for little bones… and though I’m not likely to ever find anything or know what happened, I know I will always remember their wild and beautiful spirits… I think of them whispering along on the prairie grasses.

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  4. Lovely post, Big Sister! So glad Daisy and Spirit returned home safely! The pictures are beautiful, I especially love the one of the birds up close in flight, and the last one of Daisy and Spirit. Hope that gash heals well; you really should go get that tetanus shot!

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    1. Thanks, nurse Jules. I know… I really need to get that shot!! Kind of like someone I know needs to keep an “emergency kit” in their SUV in case they get stuck in a winter snow storm!! Why is it we procrastinate things that could be very important?? I promise… I’ll get the tetanus shot this week! I love you Baby Sister! 🙂

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  5. Yay! I am so glad you got to spend some time with Daisy and Spirit again! I can imagine how concerned you probably were. I’ve never smelt a skunk and don’t ever want to. I’ve heard of all sorts of ways people try to get rid of the stink from clothing. What have you done in the past? Oh dear, please do get a tetanus shot for that gash. I actually did something similar recently. The camera was saved but I bruised and cut my elbow badly. But I was happy the camera was safe, of course! 😉 Lovely narration again. You had me worried about Daisy and Spirit but then joyful when they were at the feeder. Thanks for the lovely pics and story! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Jane. I have never been sprayed by a skunk, nor have any of my little house dogs. I guess we’ve been lucky on that note. We see a lot of skunks around here, and most of the time I do not worry about them. I think people panic most of the time. Skunks are like any other little critter – they do not want confrontation with us either, and they don’t just go around spraying everything that scares them. I wasn’t in a position to photograph the skunk that day, but I would have loved to! I have seen Daisy investigate a skunk before, but she is very cautious and keeps a distance. Of course I think all animals and birds should be respectfully observed. We all like our space, after all! 🙂

      Funny how we protect our cameras! Ha ha! I do hope your elbow heals well. You have a knack for wonderful storytelling and your photographs are simply outstanding!

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  6. So glad you got to spend some time with your girls! Bummer about the barbed wire getting you though. I liked the pics of the river and the pecan orchard. I don’t remember seeing any pictures of those places on your blog before…very nice.
    Your flock of blackbirds appear to be starlings, and I just learned something cool about them a few minutes ago, so I’ll share it with you too. Starling bills turn yellow in early spring and remain yellow through the breeding season, Then they turn black for fall and winter. So your photo is proof that spring really IS coming!

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    1. Wow Kim! I am always learning something new about birds from you! I happen to like starlings, though most people around here call them a “junky” bird. A few years back I did a post (https://littlesundog.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/tough-little-birds-of-winter/) on winter birds, and I captured a lovely starling group on the pool cover, taking sips from the just about frozen water. I think they’re pretty with all of their little speckles.

      I would love to canoe the river someday. I have driven west of town, stopping at focal points to photograph it. It’s a twisting and winding river, often cutting a new path, since the soil in these parts is mostly sand and sand rock. It isn’t a clear river – it has a red cast to it, and is often murky and swift flowing. Definitely not a river to be canoeing or rafting during the rainy season. I will try to remember to get a few pecan orchard photos this spring… it’s a very lovely place under the canopy of pecan tree tops… with those big, sturdy trunks and magnificent limbs reaching out!

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      1. Haha, I clicked back to see that post and noticed that I had commented on it back in 2012! I think starlings are beautiful too. One of my birder friends has a pet starling, which I never knew you could do. But this bird is apparently very talkative and smart and a fun pet. I guess since starlings are an invasive, non-native species, they aren’t protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and you can keep them as pets (and kill them) without penalty.

        I can tell by the deep river banks that the river gets much bigger in spring. How far is it from your house? Does it ever flood?

        I’ll look forward to pictures of the pecan orchard this spring. I’ll bet they have lovely flowers!

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        1. My understanding (here in Oklahoma) is that no wild animal, bird, reptile, can be held as a pet. But I’m pretty sure you could keep one as a pet as long as it wasn’t caged or fenced in. We have been reported here with Daisy (by neighbors), but the warden assured me that as long as she is free to roam she is considered wild and not a pet. I have heard that crows cannot be raised by humans as they need parents of their kind to teach them how to survive. I was told if I ever got a crow, that I’d better count on having it for its life as a companion! Good gosh…

          The river is 3/4 of a mile from our house. Yes, it does flood sometimes in the spring. And it has backed up as close as a 1/4 mile from our property. Our house sits above the slope so I would never worry about our house being in danger, but certainly, the pecan orchard could flood. It has been shallow with water in the past. That would curtail my lovely walks for sure!

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    1. Ha ha! Now you know me, if there was a chance to photograph the skunk I would have! It was on the other side of the neighbor’s fence and all I could see at the last minute was the tip of a tail. I was more fascinated with the looks on Daisy and Spirit’s faces than anything. In part, I guess I was a chicken… I was sort of frozen in the moment wondering how the heck I would deal with the stink if I did get sprayed!!

      Someday I will get you the perfect skunk totem photograph… I promise!! 🙂

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  7. Lori you live in a marvelous place where you can take nature walks. I envy you. And I’m very glad that your dear deer were at the feeder by the time you got back. The river bank photo showed that famous Oklahoma red dirt. This was an enjoyble read. I love reading your hikes in the woods.

    I will send you some plants lists and links to native plant nurseries. I just have not put it down to “paper.”

    ~yvonne

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    1. Oh goody!! I will look forward to your list!! When we moved here I had all sorts of lovely “not” native plants that I moved from in town. Slowly, they all bit the dust. Then I began noticing how birds fed on the plants I called “weeds” and how some of the native plants I’d acquired, actually flourished in the heat and drought conditions when my other pretties folded up and died – despite ample watering. I have noticed more butterflies and hummingbirds thanks to dispersing seeds of native wildflowers, and planting some of the native shrubs of this area. I’m looking forward to your list… I would love to attract more of the butterflies like you photographed in your last post. 🙂

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  8. I could stop holding my breath about halfway through this post. Oh bollocks! You ripped both your pants and yourself…I guess the lengths we go to to catch up with our animal friends are justified in the end (even if you just ripped a hole in your own “end” 😉 ). Glad to see Daisy is back and Spirit is in tow. Always a cause for rejoicing 🙂

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    1. Yes, Fran! I was just telling a friend the day before that I’d grown worried not having seen the girls for several weeks. I was so happy to see them the next morning! And I am quite sure I wouldn’t have gotten caught up in barbed-wire fencing had I not been in a hurry to get away from the skunk! Haste makes waste! 🙂 I can tell you I’ll be going back to retrieve the fencing. We find a lot of rusty, old fence in the woods, and other metal discards. FD’s Granddad allowed the city to dump asphalt and other discards along the canyon walls, to keep erosion down. Now much of that has washed down. That’s part of my cleanup process, which is exercise and keeps my “end” in shape!! Ha ha! 🙂

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      1. Lol on the “end”…Farmers used to dump all of their rubbish into creeks to slow the flow over here…numpties! I wonder if they realised or even cared that someone was going to have to clean it all up at some stage or if they thought “not in my lifetime”…sigh…SO glad we don’t have skunks over here! The closest thing we have are stink bugs. My friend bit into a raspberry the other day and didn’t realise that there was a stinkbug inside it… almost as bad as skunk on your pants 😉

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        1. Oh, we have stink bugs here too. I’m always careful to rinse vegetables and fruits… I find them constantly. Bear, my dog who loves to eat insects, ate a stink bug once. I wish I’d had the camera handy that day… the look on his face was priceless! 🙂

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  9. You scared me! I thought you’d been snagged by a wild beast, Lori!
    Such a wonderful post and I am glad to read that your girls showed up to visit with you. 🙂

    The big oaks here scare me real bad! When we first moved here I heard about a man who had been retired for only 3 weeks, when a huge limb fell on him and killed him. I hate to be under the huge oaks for any reason now, because I find limbs on the ground after storms, and have witnessed limbs falling from them in the pasture behind us. They are indeed widow makers!

    Question: On my property we have just cleared the trail of fallen, sapling pines. We then went through and detangled them from the hardwoods letting them fall into place. My thinking was that they are already rotten (hence they fell in the first place) so why not let them return to the soil. Is this bad practice? If so, then why? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Lynda, and great question! Here, we leave the big stuff that is years old, to morph back into the soil. It has a beauty all it’s own. Most of the smaller twigs are also left to decompose. When we lose a live tree (due to ice, high winds or tornadoes) we generally saw what we can use for fire wood in the winter. This year we have a reason for cleaning up the woodlands, at least the immediate area below the slope and along the buggy pathways. I will be writing a post on that soon! I don’t want to give it away here just yet!!

      You are wise to have respect for the oaks… and all trees. The only times I have been injured badly in the woods (remember the time I was on bed rest for three weeks??) was when something big fell on me from above while I was working in the woods. I rarely go down there on windy days, and I’ve learned to look up when I’m in an area. We have many “widow-makers” in our woods. I bet every wooded area has more of them than people realize! And, if not a widow-maker, it’s sure to be a back-breaker! 🙂

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  10. Save the camera! Well done, Lori. Sorry about the calf gash, though. Lovely story, and beautiful shots as always. I have a question though, one I should have asked you two years ago or whenever I first came across your blog. How many seasons do fawns normally stay close to their mother?

    I’m a little jealous of your 70s, as we’re in the throes of deep winter weather here. I didn’t enjoy my trip to the grocery this morning what with all the blustery snow, but at least the roads were mostly empty of other drivers. All gearing up for the super bowl, I suppose. Hope you’re well, and the same for FD and all the creatures.

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    1. Hey Sid! I think of you often in your cold, northern climate! Gad’s… I remember those days all too well in Nebraska! I believe Daisy’s herd (when the fawns live) will always be around her. I think her fawns will tend to be part of her herd. And I think that can vary… they may find their own area, but the family tends to be not far from one another. I have a friend in Kansas who follows the wild deer and from what I understand, she has documented families of deer (aunts, uncles, cousins.. generations) who all stay in the same general area. So in that case, Daisy and Spirit may always be in close proximity. And of course both male and female deer mutual groom one another, so I think in families that is seen a good bit as well.

      I hate to dangle it in front of you but this coming week the 60’s will be back! I’m so excited… I LOVE the warm weather! 😀

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      1. Hahahaha. Thanks for the dangling weather carrot, Lori! I’m guessing there will be a snow day at school tomorrow assuming this keeps up.

        I’m actually really happy to hear that deer families keep together. Happy for them all in general, but for Daisy in particular. All the best to you all!

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  11. even though i would have been thinking the same thing, I had to chuckle at SAVE THE CAMERA! 🙂 So glad you did!
    Also very glad you evaded the skunk and saw your girls! BUT!!! You do indeed need to get a tetanus shot! Go! Do it!
    Love the birds shots. It’s always a pleasure to see flocks of birds rising from the trees.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. I don’t think I’ve ever walked to the river and not seen something of interest – the bird show saved the day! It was quite a show! I think any of us who tote our cameras around would have done the same “save” maneuver!! At least the ground was soft and I had a coat on for padding!

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    1. Good question, Cherity. I wish Spirit could wear a collar – mostly for safety during hunting season. It’s hard enough getting one on Daisy as she never really has liked it. But with her being curious and not so afraid of people it’s for her safety we put one on her. Even though FD and I, and my mother-in-law and her husband were really the only folks she was raised around, she’s still curious about humans. Daisy’s babies are born wild. Even though they see us interact with Daisy, instinctually they fear humans. We’ve never been able to get very close to any of Daisy’s fawns. Spirit and Dancer maybe trusted us the most, but they scampered off any time we got closer than five feet or so. It’s best this way. Wild is how they’re supposed to be!

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  12. These shots of Spirit and Daisy are so loving. So glad to find out you finally got to see them…I was worried initially. Your appreciation for your surroundings is commendable. I am impressed with the beauty of my surroundings here in Miami, as the sun encourages the greenery to flourish. The sky is very blue, most of the time, but the traffic and over-population is hard to ignore, among the beauty of nature and palms. I guess who ever is responsible for such diversity
    felt there is a place for all. (Even skunks???) 😦

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    1. Ha ha! Yes, Judy, even the skunks have a place. They’re actually a lot of fun to watch! We are on the edge… town across the street on two sides and woodlands/country off to the north and west. Our house is situated about a football field distance from the street so we are far enough away that city noise and traffic isn’t too much of a bother. Oddly, Daisy and Spirit are not bothered at all by it. In fact, she raises her fawns with the town traffic not very far off. It’s as if she instinctively knows it’s “safer” to hide them there as predators aren’t likely to come so close to human existence. Or perhaps it is because she was raised here as a fawn and it is her territory… I’m just happy she still calls this home base. 🙂

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  13. Oh, so glad you saw the girls…really shouldn’t try to dance like them, though (giggles) Can just imagine your ballet moves while saving the camera. Do get that booster shot, you just never know – and they’re good for several years.
    It is nice to go out in the winter and see how the woods are redecorating. Have to admit, I’ve never faced down a skunk – often smelled them at night, but not in daytime around here – but our weather is milder than yours so maybe there they have to go out and eat when they can.
    Startling a bird flock is always stunning – even more when it’s winter quiet.
    Take care! ( and get that shot!)

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    1. It’s always a good day when we see Daisy and Spirit and even better when they let me tag along. I saw a skunk this morning… it avoided me! It hid behind a shrub and waited for me to pass. How funny. I wonder if I should look up skunk totem information. Maybe there is a message in these appearances! 🙂

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  14. Save the camera…oh, yes, we’ve all been there. Glad you were able to save it. I hope you’re OK.

    I long for the spring like scenes you showcase here. In a few months Minnesota will look like this.

    Glad you were able to see your precious ones.

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    1. Thanks Audrey. It is always interesting to note the vast difference in landscape from Oklahoma to Nebraska when we travel spring or autumn. You wouldn’t think 450 miles would make much of a difference in foliage and temperature but it does. Soon the wild animals will begin to shed their winter hair and the robins will make known their presence. I’m sure you folks who live way up north look forward to spring during these winter storms and bitter cold temperatures!

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  15. Gosh, Lori, you really had me in suspense over ‘something had me by my yoga pants’! Glad you are mostly okay, and that you got to see ‘your girls’. It really is so special to have a bond with wild animals the way you do. I hope the rest of winter is kind to you.

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    1. Thank you, Ardys! I hope warmer weather is just around the corner. Following Daisy has generally shown me that there is a reason they have little hooves and springy legs! I am happy that Daisy and Spirit tolerate me joining them from time to time.

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  16. Sorry I’m a bit late in reading your post. How wonderful to see Daisy and Spirit and your portrait of her is fantastic. “Save the camera” indeed. the same thing happened to me when I slipped on my way down a grassy bank, after photographing cows! I held my camera up and scrapped the skin off my forearms and got some nasty bruises, but my camera was safe. I have a UV filter on mine to protect the lens from UVs, but mainly scratches and breaking. The filter doesn’t change your photos. It’s transparent. Are you still writing your book?

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    1. Hi Henrietta! I have a UV filter on mine too! I just started on the book again. I’ve had some road blocks in writing, but finally, letting go of some personal stuff has really cleared the way for me to be creative. I have found that writing the book has brought back some of the emotion of raising Daisy. Difficult, but it feels GREAT to be writing the book!! 🙂 Thank you for asking!

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