Born In A Storm

Wednesday evening found me in a rush to clean up dinner dishes so that I could run over to our neighbor’s backyard to check on Daisy. When I observed her earlier that morning, her udder appeared to be slightly larger than it had been over the past several days. I also noticed her resting a good bit the day prior, so I had a sneaking hunch her time to give birth was near, and was curious as to what area she had selected for the event.

With my dishes now stacked (OK, maybe “thrown”) in the drying rack,  I crossed into the neighbor’s property through a small opening in the fence near the slope, and meandered through the wild growth of his backyard. Years ago, I could not have imagined anyone letting backyard property become so overgrown, but after raising Daisy and watching her browse about our property eating various plants and tree leaves, I have learned to have a great appreciation for the existence of natural grasses, weeds, and thickets of trees. In fact, over the years since Daisy came along, FD and I have become very wildlife conscious, and now take measures to ensure a wildlife-friendly landscape and not worry so much about it being pleasing to the eyes of the members of the “Yard of the Month Club”.

Snapping my thoughts back to the natural habitat of our neighbor’s backyard, I walked along calling Daisy’s name and speaking softly so that I would not alarm or surprise her. As it turned out, I did not have to venture far to find her. Daisy was lying on her side with her belly exposed, in an open, grassy area. I sat down beside her and we began our normal, mutual-grooming ritual for a couple of minutes. Daisy licked my arm while I picked a tick or two off of her and softly smashed mosquitoes on her face. Then I scratched her neck and head awhile, which she seemed to enjoy immensely.

I found Daisy resting in an open area between thickets.
I found Daisy resting in an open area between thickets.
Daisy's belly has dropped, but she still has several hours ahead of her before giving birth.
Daisy’s belly has dropped, but she still has several hours ahead of her before giving birth.
Daisy would lay down for a few minutes, then relocate. She was walking more open-legged now and could not seem to get comfortable.
Daisy would lay down for a few minutes, then get up and relocate. She was walking more open-legged now and could not seem to get comfortable.

When Daisy finally stood up, I noticed her belly had “dropped” – now hanging lower, rather than being as round and wide as before. Also, her vaginal area was swollen and her udder had more than doubled in size. She took a few steps and relieved herself, her tail stretched up and vaginal area puckering as she did so. Taking a few more waddling steps forward, she left even more scat, which were normal pea-sized pellets. Each time she stopped, she raised her tail as if stretching it straight up, while the puckering action of the vaginal area continued. FD arrived about that time, and indicated he thought she might be having mild contractions, but was probably still several hours from delivery. I was a bit disappointed at that news as, once again, I was hoping to photograph the event and be with Daisy during the delivery.

It was dusk now, and the onslaught of mosquitoes was relentless. I knew that even if I could have stayed out with a flashlight and camera, the mosquitoes would have made me insane. Besides, Daisy was still up and then down. She could not seem to get comfortable. Ultimately, I knew  she must do this on her own as she had done the past two years. So I bid her good night, praying that her delivery would be easy and safe.

Of course, being the worry wort that I am when my Daisy girl is involved, I did not sleep very well at all. The hours slowly rolled by, and I only dozed a few minutes at a time. Then at 3:00 a.m., the thunder cracked and rain poured down. As I laid there in our warm bed thinking of my Daisy deer, I heard the howling of the increasing wind and steady hammering of a torrential rain on the roof. I thought of fawns coming into the world at such a time. I had seen Daisy brave the elements, even hail stones, over the years, but I could not imagine emerging from the warmth and security of a womb, only to be pelted by cold rain and sharp, biting winds. Finally, I found comfort in realizing the storm was Mother Nature’s way of cleansing Daisy and the fawns, and washing away any traces of the birthing event. This would lessen chances of predators detecting evidence of the babies.

This is the view of the birthing area in our neighbor's yard. Daisy used the low-hanging branches of the oak tree on the right, as cover and possible shelter from the storm that moved through in the wee hours of the morning.
This is the view of this year’s birthing area in our neighbor’s yard. No wonder Daisy chooses this area for her nursery – wild and plenty of cover to hide babies! Daisy used the low-hanging branches of the oak tree on the right, as cover and possible shelter from the storm that moved through in the wee hours of the morning.

Needless to say, when morning finally arrived, I hurriedly went through my tasks of getting the dogs medications doled out and then getting both the dogs and the juvenile squirrels fed. With that complete, I whipped up a quick breakfast, inhaling my own and shouting to FD that he would be serving himself and might possibly have to heat his up again. FD was still busy getting ready for work as I donned my boots, grabbed my camera, and quietly, but quickly, made my way to the neighbor’s backyard in search of Daisy.

I carefully walked through the area where I knew Daisy had given birth to fawns the past two springs, but found no sign of her. Moving on, I gently spoke her name and talked to her so that she would not be alarmed or think a predator was lurking near. Next, I checked the place where I had found her the day before, lying in the grass as if in labor, and worked my way closer to our neighbor’s house from there. And then, to my horror, I felt the sole of my rubber boot landing on a soft lump! Feeling this, I was able to avoid fully stepping on it by lunging forward a bit more, and only giving the lump a good bump as I stepped beyond. With both feet now firmly on the ground, I froze and looked down to find a wee fawn curled up in the tall grass, completely hidden in my footpath! Gracious, I had nearly stepped on my own granddeer!!

Instantly, I bent over to check on the fawn, who remained lying motionless in the grass. Still wet from the rain, the little fawn blinked an eye at me, as if to say, “Gee, thanks. If it wasn’t enough being born in a thunderstorm, a clumsy human has to come along and clobber me with a rubber boot!” I apologized in gentle tones, and lightly petted the little one’s head, feeling just terrible about how my boot must have felt to the tiny, newborn fawn. Before leaving it, I carefully lifted a rear leg and determined it to be a little doe. Again, speaking softly, I apologized and stepped ever so slowly away, not wishing to disturb her any further.

Daisy is resting about thirty feet from her fawns.
Daisy is resting about thirty feet from her fawns.
FD gently checks the sex of both fawns.
FD gently confirms the sex of both fawns.
A fawn has no defense from predators the first week. Laying motionless and being well-camouflaged is its best defense. The mother also keeps it very clean and scentless the first few weeks.
Other than a mother’s watchful eyes, a fawn has little protection from predators the first week. Lying motionless and being well-camouflaged is its best defense. The mother also keeps it very clean and scent-free the first few weeks.

Now standing five feet away from the little doe, I removed my cell phone from my pants pocket and began dialing FD’s number, when I glanced to my right and found I had once again placed my boot very close to a second fawn! This one was more exposed in the weeds, though it had a young sapling next to it which offered a bit of cover. As I knelt down to pet it softly (finding that it too was a doe), I finally noticed Daisy lying under the cover of an oak tree just a few feet away, chewing her cud. At this point, I completed my call to FD, only to realize he had already come over the fence in his dress clothes. Apparently, he had inhaled his breakfast as well, in order to see Daisy and the new granddeer before dashing off to work.

After FD left for work, I spent a lot of time with Daisy, petting her head and smashing the mosquitoes that relentlessly attacked her cheeks. While petting her, I realized I should call my neighbor to tell him the news so he would be careful when letting his dog, Jessica, out for her morning bathroom business. Getting up, Daisy nibbled and grazed while keeping watch on her babies. Our neighbor, Steve, arrived about that time and, walking slowly to Daisy, received a hand lick as her approval to be in the nursery area. Daisy went about grazing while I showed Steve where the fawns were located. I suppose Daisy felt she could take the opportunity of having baby sitters, as she strolled further back into the yard to do a little patrolling in the immediate area. After all, the pesky foxes had been seen the night before and that morning already as well. With her babies born, Daisy would be on full alert at all times. At one point, Steve went inside and returned with hot coffee for us to sip while we continued to visit near the fawns. Daisy returned from time to time, finally nursing one fawn and moving it to another area. Nearly two hours later, she nursed and moved the other baby. Both were now located in tall grasses on either end of Steve’s back yard.

Daisy makes a small "buzzing" grunt to call her baby to her.
Daisy makes a small “buzzing” grunt to call her baby to her.

Daisy and Fawn_1349 Daisy and Fawn_1352 Daisy and Fawn_1360

Five hours later, I finally returned home to fix lunch and give my back a break. I thought of Daisy, who had given birth just hours before, and was now faced with being a protective mother and defender of her young. I observed her twice during the afternoon chasing the young fox off with hooves a flyin! And, throughout the day, I watched her browse about like a voracious eating machine. She was often nose-to-the-ground, either catching scent of what animals might have passed through the area, or searching for her babies while mooing her call to beckon them to nurse. A few times, I saw her resting a short distance from where her babies were hidden separately.

Daisy is on guard and has already had a few tangles with the foxes!
Daisy is on guard and has already had a few tangles with the foxes!
Daisy rests nearby, chewing her cud. I never see her sleeping - she is always watching her babies who are hidden separately, nearby in the shade and cover of trees and grasses.
Daisy rests nearby, chewing her cud. I never see her sleeping – she is always watching her babies who are hidden separately in the shade and cover of nearby trees and grasses.

Observing Daisy as a mother of two for the third year in a row, I realize how easy I had it raising only her. Daisy’s job as a mother is so much more difficult than mine was. Being raised by humans, she managed to tap into instinct to know how to handle her role as a deer mother in the wild. Unfortunately, she has suffered loss in the process – her first little buck to a bobcat attack in which Daisy was also wounded badly, and last year’s, six-month-old fawns that simply disappeared a week apart during the fall rut. Then finally, her yearling fawn, Spirit (who also lost her own fawn a month after it was born), disappeared in mid-February this year. FD and I have never able to determine for certain what happened with any of them. We hope Spirit has simply chosen to set up her own territory somewhere not too far away.

I continue to marvel at Daisy’s resiliency. She is my teacher and my inspiration, always displaying a determination and fight to make it through the struggle of life in the wild. She continually reminds me that, despite the conditions and circumstances we grow up in, or the events that happen to us throughout life, we always have instinct – the inner spirit and direction that resides within – to help us along and show us the way of living in the moment, and of finding joy in stormy times…

Daisy and Fawn_1405 Daisy and Fawn_1407 Daisy and Fawn_1425 Fawn-1440 Fawn-1443 Daisy and Fawn_1444

The first couple of weeks Daisy will hide the fawns in separate places. She nurses them on different schedules too. In the wild it is better to keep them separate in case a predator finds them. Both could be lost if they were kept together. Later when they can run, Daisy will bring them together. But for many months, Daisy is on high alert - always watchful and at the ready to fend off trouble.
Over the first couple of weeks, Daisy will hide the fawns in separate places. She nurses them on different schedules too. In the wild, it is better to keep them separate in case a predator finds them. Both could be lost if they were kept together. Later, when they can run full-speed, Daisy will bring them together. But for many months, Daisy will be on high alert – always watchful and at the ready to fend off trouble.

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


55 thoughts on “Born In A Storm

  1. This is so precious! I look forward to each of your entries. Still early here for fawns….they will not be born till end of July with most in August and September. Thank you for bringing a smile into our busy lives as rehabbers! You are a blessing and a joy!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! My goodness I would have thought your area of Alabama would have fawns born about the same time as we do! It is an exciting time for us – fun to watch Daisy nurse her babies and observe her walking with them. 🙂

      Like

    1. Yes, Henrietta I have been very tired, but the time flies while I am observing Daisy and her young. The worst part is those darned mosquitoes! With the recent rains they are really making an appearance this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful that you got to meet the fawns so soon after they were born. They are beautiful and so tiny!

    Like

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the journey of both you and Daisy – –

    I so often sit on the fence between what I’d prefer to do and standing back so as to not interfere with that which has it’s own rhythm and wisdom that has survived millenia without my well-intentioned, yet, harmful, most likely, interference –

    Still a long ways for me to go, because my first thought was to post links to which wildflowers could be planted in wild areas (that aren’t even, in Daisy’s range, under your own management! LOL – I’m ridiculous that way….) that might allow Daisy and her youngin’s to walk through and gain some tick/mosquito protection just by being touched by the gift as they walk through or lie hidden…

    For all I know, those same helpful flowers might be a luring death tonic to her and the babies – if they decide to nibble instead of brushing through – – LOL

    In my mind, it’s never easy to identify where to help and where to stand back – – I’m really glad you share your own experiences, so I can learn more without killing something in the process of experimenting and learning – – 🙂

    Like

    1. What an interesting comment! What we have done here mostly, is to plant native grasses, flowers, and trees that will benefit wildlife. Though the fruit trees are not necessarily all native, we try to provide a variety of fruits and nuts for our use and share with the wildlife. Daisy has shown me she can eat just about any plant… and she tends to know what isn’t good for her. We let many weeds remain, even though we do not prefer them. We realize most plants have purpose – be it for bird or mammal consumption or possibly medicinal use for humans. I am continually amazed at the uses for many wild herbs that grow here.

      And, I have discovered that even the flowers I have planted for my own delight, Daisy seems to think they’re rather tasty. My rose bushes and petunias get a good “trim” every so often. Thankfully, she loves clover of all sorts and we have three nice plots for her to choose from so she isn’t so tempted to raid my flower beds and planters!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I appreciate your perspective – sometimes I get bogged down in trying to see all of them and lose focus of what is needed (or not) just now, for this moment in time… 🙂

        Like

  4. Hurray, she did it! When I read about Daisy delivering those precious babies in the storm I was worried, and then so thankful to see that everything went well. I got teary-eyed as I scrolled through your photos of the first hours in the lives of these little doe fawns. Thanks so much for documenting Daisy’s life and sharing it with us, Lori. You have really enriched my life with your writing.

    Can’t wait to find out the names you’ve chosen for the girls!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim! Thank you so much for your always wonderful comments! FD and I have been thinking about names. It generally takes a week or more to watch personalities and to be able to tell them apart. It really helps that we were able to sex them this year. Last year we did not know about the second fawn for a couple of weeks and had no idea until the autumn (when bucks little button antlers begin to bud) what the sex was. I will be sure to announce names as soon as we observe them a little more. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. There seriously needs to be a “Love” button when it comes to posts like these Lori :). I guess deer are like sheep who love to wait till there is a terrible storm to deliver their babies. Wonderful to see that Daisy has 2 does this this time. Thank you for sharing Daisies wonderful story with us Lori 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! Thank you Fran. I have thought about a “Love” button too, while reading other’s blog posts. Sometimes “Like” just doesn’t seem like enough. And I am beginning to think there is some intuitive logic behind birthing in rainstorms. Predators would not be as likely to be prowling around, and the rain washes away any evidence not consumed by the mother. Nature thinks of everything! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a privilege you have given us, seeing Daisy and her fawns in their natural habitat at such a crucial time of life!! I can’t believe those two big babies were BOTH in Daisy. I feel like such a piker, having only produced one!! I laughed at your calling them your ‘granddeer’. You are amazing, Lori, thank you so much!!

    Like

    1. Thank you Ardys! Your comments always make me smile! I had the same thought about the size of the babies after they were born. They were very large – I am sure they were quite cramped in Daisy’s small frame. She’s not a big deer by any means. And a friend mentioned to me the other day – with great emotion – that humans get help for the pain, while animals must simply endure it. I still hope that one day I will have the opportunity to watch Daisy give birth.

      Like

  7. Daisy is such a gentle and protective mother. Her fawns are beautiful. God bless and protect them.

    Like

    1. Thank you Susan. Every year Daisy is more relaxed about motherhood, but I fear she still has to work on calming HER mother down. I’m still a terrible worrywart about her and the kids! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you Audrey. I haven’t managed to locate them again since those photos! Daisy is being very clever about hiding them. I do believe she’s moved them over here though. There goes any chance of mowing! ha ha!

      Like

  8. Nature never ceases to amaze. How wonderful to have access to the fawns so early. And that little face in the header is too much. Wonderful work, Lori.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Sandy. It’s a good thing I got to spend time with them the day they were born. Every day since then, Daisy has managed to hide them in clever spots. She’s given me the slip any time I’ve followed her! Ha ha! I’m happy for her… she’s being a protective and safe mama!

      Like

  9. Wonderful! Magnificent! What a trooper Daisy has turned out to be. I’m guessing she was raised in a loving home by doting parents 😉
    I hope all goes well with her babies and your photos and text are fabulous, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mike! I’m having a difficult time getting photos of the little ones since that first day. Daisy is being very secretive about where she’s got them and has led me on a few wild goose chases. Of course it’s all good – she allows me to sit with her while she’s resting and watching her babies from afar.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh Lori, this is such exciting news and brought back wonderful memories for me of my dairy goats giving birth. I’d feel like an anxious grandparent when I knew they were beginning labour and carefully took notice of all their signs – their udders, the swollen and sagging vulvas, the mucus and their behaviour. Most times all would go well but occasionally I would need to help them deliver when a kid got stuck. On a couple of occasions kids were born completely inside their bags and suffocated because the mums were busy attending to their twin or were inexperienced. Reading through your story took me back through these emotions again. Often they seemed to choose the worst weather conditions to give birth and I would wake up at night and be concerned about them but somehow most of the time it all worked out. Once they were born though, the danger from predators was high, and some kids were lost like what happened to Daisy’s offspring. I would also sit by and “groom” my nannies and they would nibble on my clothes and rub their heads against me to receive a good scratch and rub. Unless you’ve had close daily contact with these creatures it can be hard for people to know how strong a relationship can be with them and how individual their personalities can be. Thanks for this beautiful telling of Daisy’s new offspring. I do hope she has success with them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jane. My goodness, you do understand knowing the connection with animals and the deep bonds formed. I think I am better this year about not worrying so much and leaving Daisy to her babies. I think the reason she is hiding them so well is that last year, with us gone on a trip, she was able to do her own thing without us poking around so much. I am going with that in mind this year. I was so thankful that first day though, that she seemed very comfortable with me tagging along a good bit, and especially that she allowed our neighbor Steve so much interaction. She still comes to me for attention these days since, but I try to keep a distance from the babies for now, and let her do her own thing. Of course I worry about predators. Last year I was so sure Dancer and Heidi would make it, being six months old. Nothing is for certain… and I can wear myself out with worry, which does no good, or I can allow it to “be” and accept life as it is. I have had to learn that difficult lesson in other aspects of my life… letting go and letting be – living in the moment and enjoying what is in the “now”. Thank you for sharing precious words about your own experiences with your little goats. These experiences we never forget. They imprint on our lives… they are part of our soul’s journey. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Margaret! I am enjoying time with Daisy, but she’s very clever this year hiding her little ones. I finally saw her nursing one yesterday. She’s a very good mama.

      Like

  11. Just in awe of how well the world can work at times. Such dear deer storm born. So appreciate you sharing the pictures. Somehow this all makes you think, “well, life is good and will go on.”
    Quiet respectful cheers for Daisy and her little ones.

    Like

    1. Thank you! You’re right! Everything does seem right with the world when we see the beauty and sweetness of new life. I had hoped to be with Daisy during the delivery, but I was just as happy to be there just after, and to see that she completely trusted me – and Steve, to stand so near her newborn babies for so long. I’m even more amazed she stepped off for a time and left us to babysit. It’s all very amazing to me… I love that little deer.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Had to run back by. Between storms yesterday we got out and drove the road that runs the perimeter of the NASA compound to try and spot the deer herds – there enjoying the afternoon and grass were several doe with new fawns toddling with them. The little dappled ones are so cute. Those are some lucky deer. Not disturbed in the least by a NASA jogger going right beside them on the compound’s trail. No matter how many times/Springs you see them – it’s always “awww. So cute”

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Even if deer are common sightings and often more a hazard in town while driving, there is something always so hope-filled and heartwarming whenever a fawn or little twins are seen scurrying along with their mother. What an amazing circle of life you have been able to witness each season.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Kat. You said it well, seeing a doe and her long-legged, speckled babies does bring hope and we are allowed to see the wonder and miracle of nature… of life!

      Like

  13. How on earth did I miss this one. Congrats to Daisy (and to you). What lovely fawns.

    I do so hope Spirit has her own happy stomping grounds.

    Also, thank you so much for talking with me last week. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate your advice.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Cherity! I hope we see Spirit this summer with her own little family. As for last week, you and your husband are loving and caring people. Not too many people would go to the extent (and expense) that you did to help an animal in need. Thank you for giving that fawn a chance at life! 🙂

      Like

  14. Hi I’m new to this blog and I love how your posts are so much about nature and wildlife. I don’t get much of those living in a city of concrete jungle. I would love to emerse myself in mother nature and be with lovely animals. Being able to even experience an animal giving birth is a luxury! Your stories and photos have touched my heart and brought me a little closer to nature. I am looking forward to reading your future posts! (:

    Like

    1. Clara, what a lovely comment – that just made my morning! I started this blog to write about my life here on ten acres. I wrote about gardening, funny experiences and the wonders and rewards of hard work. I reflected a lot on the farm girl skills I learned as a young girl and now utilized as I worked the land. But once Daisy deer came along, and rehabilitation of wildlife – learning about their habits and observing them as they set out on their “wild” journey, my blog became more about the messages and what I learned about their existence. Often we humans can apply these gifts of interaction with the wild critters in our own lives. Sometimes we tend to blindly walk through life never noticing the little things – the beautiful aspects of nature. I am glad you have joined me in this little niche that Mother Nature offers all of us to rest in and find a little slice of happiness!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad it made your day as it made my day as well! I agree that we, especially us city dwellers, always overlook what nature has to offer around us as we’re always busy about our work and life. Thank you for opening a window to nature not only for me but to everyone else reading your blog 🙂

        Like

        1. Thank you, Clara. I too was a city (small city) girl and never expected to go back to my country farm girl roots. One never knows what journey we may end up on in life, but it’s always good to keep an open mind and flourish where we are! Have a happy weekend, my new friend! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  15. I was going over this post for a second time and realized that the images of the fawns reminded me of a chance encounter up at Hurricane Ridge (Olympic N.P., Washington) a number of years ago. The Columbia Black-Tail Deer there are quite used to the presence of people, which allows a proximity of approach that would otherwise be all but impossible.

    I’m a landscape photographer; I’ve always said you can fit what I know about wildlife photography in a thimble and have plenty of room left over. But I happened to be photographing long lens landscapes that morning when I noted an adult deer in the meadow immediately below me, and I was watching this doe when, all of a sudden, a fawn (previously unseen by me) came bounding out of the tall grass and lupine. I was focusing manually, and using manual exposure–as I always do–and I was so entranced by the interplay of doe and fawn that I almost forgot to try and produce any photographs and I never even bothered changing any of the camera settings to make the task easier. But the pair was quite cooperative, and despite using manual focus and a very low ISO, I still managed to get a decent shot or two (http://www.lightscapesphotography.com/Hurricane_Ridge_0381.htm).

    In any event, it must be an incredible experience to be able to get as close to Daisy and her fawns, with or without camera in tow, as you documented in this post. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the predators remain firmly at bay.

    Like

Comments are closed.