An Empty Nest

Secretive Daisy_1734

Daisy finds comfort in her old deer pen. For three years she has hidden her fawns in the tall grasses and plants we originally set up as a food plot for Daisy.
Daisy finds comfort in her old deer pen. For three years she has hidden her fawns in the tall grasses and plants we originally set up as a food plot for Daisy.

Each spring I wonder about the logic behind cardinal birds building nests in the low shrubs and dwarf trees growing in and around our yard. Many times, the nests are robbed of eggs by snakes or squirrels, and sometimes even the hatchlings are preyed upon before their eyes open or feathers emerge. And far too often, I have witnessed neighborhood cats running off with a young fledgling in its mouth, the parents diving at the cat, but to no avail. Unfortunately, there is no saving the helpless baby in these circumstances. Though the Cardinal parents are resilient and I often see them taking up residence in another nest just a week or two later, I have to wonder how they feel about the loss of the previous clutch. Would it be horrifying for them to observe a predator taking their young? Could it even be considered easier to accept if the eggs or babies were just missing when they returned to the nest?

I thought about this when we took the chainsaw to the old “widow-maker” over at my mom-in-law’s garden area this spring. As my husband FD whittled away at the giant tree limbs, there in a hollowed area of a limb lay two baby squirrels, just inches from a chainsaw cut. These babies were now orphans, thanks to our decision to take down a dangerous tree. Of course we took in Buddy and Francesca and gave them a good raising, and they are now on their own and doing very well. But what of the mother who probably watched the tree come down and wondered what happened to her babies? Did she continue to search for them after we cleaned up the wood? Did she ache for them until her milk dried up? Or did she move on without a thought and begin the cycle of procreation again, just like the birds seemed to do?

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Daisy leads a fawn from her old deer pen to our neighbor Steve's property. The baby will find a place to bed down on its own.
Daisy leads a fawn from her old deer pen to our neighbor Steve’s property. The baby will find a place to bed down on its own.

For the past two years we have witnessed Daisy deer endure these same hardships. She lost her first little buck to a bobcat. She fought a brave battle to save him, but she could not. She searched for a week and a half, continually tracking his scent and mooing softly. Still having his twin sibling, Spirit, to look after, Daisy finally settled into her role as the mother of a single fawn. And last year she managed to raise a set of twin does to the age of six months. Then, during the rut, Heidi and Dancer disappeared only a few weeks apart. We never knew what happened, but suspected coyotes.

And in August of last year, Daisy’s yearling, Spirit, gave birth to a late season fawn we named Willow. Again, during the chaos of the rut, Willow was lost. Likely Spirit was being chased by a buck, and little Willow being only a couple of months old could not keep track of her mamma in the fray. A lost and confused little fawn would be easy prey for a predator. Spirit wandered the woodlands for six days searching and mooing for Willow before her calling stopped.

So this year when Daisy gave birth, if I am to be honest, I felt a bit detached from the entire process of birthing and rearing spring babies. Perhaps I am still feeling the loss of Heidi, Dancer, and Willow from last autumn… and when Spirit disappeared this February, well it has all been just too heavy for me. I have also worried about the four orphaned squirrels we raised and released. Too many times this past month, I have seen the foxes nab birds feeding on the ground or snag up an unsuspecting squirrel bounding along in the woodlands. Though I have respected the foxes and marveled at them since we began seeing them on the property a year ago, I really hope they will just move on. I do not want to think of Punkin or Mr. Gambini, Buddy or Francesca becoming lunch for one of the foxes or their kits.

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Daisy leads her fawn to the area she would like for it to bed down for the afternoon. It may be several hours before Daisy returns to nurse her.
Daisy leads her fawn to the area she would like for it to bed down for the afternoon. It may be several hours before Daisy returns to nurse her.

With all this on my mind as Daisy’s birthing took place this spring, I was proud that she seemed to be extra secretive with her fawns this year. Each passing day I was hopeful, but carefully so. The old Eeyore in me practiced caution in the emotional section of my brain. I felt I could not handle another loss. Instead, I watched from a distance, not wanting to interfere with Daisy’s ways – with nature’s ways. I was happy to see that Daisy chose to keep her little ones in our neighbor, Steve’s, more “wild” backyard. And I could understand why. For one, the back side of his property is a wild tangle of woodland and prairie grasses. Also, tall weeds and shrubs dot the back “yard” and old snags and fallen timber lie in waiting of decomposing and returning to the earth. This gives Steve’s place a more earthy smell – fresh and alive – where our more groomed property does not hold the same appeal for a whitetail mother to hide her babies.

After a couple of weeks observing Daisy with her little charges, I named the smallest fawn Sophie. She was light-colored and tiny compared to her sister. She seemed to be a mama’s girl, staying close to Daisy. Steve asked if one fawn might be named after his little sister, Megan, who died of a rare type of bone cancer at the age of nine. When Steve described his little sister, I knew that the darker colored fawn with bright blue eyes and a delightful sense of independence should be our little Megan. I often saw Megan running in Steve’s backyard, while an anxious Daisy attempted to supervise.

In late June, Daisy could be seen taking Megan to the woods, allowing her to run and scamper about. At a month old, it was common for Daisy to begin showing her fawns the layout of the woodlands. They were already familiar with Steve’s back yard and bottom-land, as well as our property up at the top of the canyon. The fawn’s next ventures would be the area below the slope, and in time she would lead them to the pecan orchard, and eventually there would be outings to the river, when the fawns were stronger and could endure running for longer distances.

Then on June 29th everything ended abruptly. A strange summer storm blew in, bringing down tree limbs and branches. Ear-splitting lightning cracked and thunder rolled. Rain hammered down in great sheets. And when it was all over, the silence that followed brought sunshine, warmth, and freshness. Unfortunately, it also brought the familiar mooing and moaning of Daisy searching for a baby. Was it for one fawn or both I wondered? What could have happened?

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I am fairly sure these photos are of Megan. Daisy tended to keep her closer to our woods either on a knoll to the south, or just north of the slope in Steve's bottom land.
I am fairly sure these photos are of Megan. Daisy tended to keep her closer to our woods either on a knoll to the south, or just north of the slope in Steve’s bottom-land.

 

 

In the days that followed, no answers came. Daisy roamed the same territory day after day, expanding the circular pattern into the pecan orchard and just beyond. After nearly a week, her udder did not seem as large as it had been, and I was not sure if she had been nursing at all. During this time, Daisy was healing from her own wounds and gouges that had appeared the morning after the storm. And, after a full week passed and her wounds were mostly healed, Daisy still seemed to be searching, nose to the ground, but the search was not in earnest, and the calls for her babies had stopped. I still felt hopeful that she had one fawn hidden somewhere, but I knew, deep down, that we should have seen some sign of a fawn by now.

It has been nearly two weeks since the storm and Daisy’s udder has shrunk considerably. She has almost healed completely from the gouges and scrapes she suffered the night of the storm. I cannot say I know what she’s thinking, but her actions are not that of a mother raising fawns. She comes to feed early mornings, and again in the evenings, but she is mysteriously gone all day long. Curiously, another doe who frequents the area, and who delivered her fawn(s) the first week of June, is also without any babies tagging along. Instead, her little yearling buck is with her again – which would not be allowed if she had little ones to care for. Apparently, all of the fawns of our woodlands have disappeared.

Daisy is in good company with her squirrel friends. I'm quite sure Mr. Gambini is one of the group chowing down on dropped corn!
Daisy is in good company with her squirrel friends. I’m quite sure Mr. Gambini is one of the group chowing down on dropped corn!

Daisy seems fine this week and I see her daily. She still walks through the areas where she kept her babies hidden, but she does not linger long. Sometimes, she stops for a few minutes to mutual groom with me, or she might throw her head to the side and do the “crazy head” movement, and then run to the woods. Her appetite is back to normal, her wounds are almost completely healed, and she seems quite content. When I am with her at the feeder in the evenings, I often see the other woodland doe and her yearling buck, waiting in the pecan orchard for Daisy to join them. They all seem to be doing just fine…

But, I am not fine. I grieve for Daisy, and for myself. Why must Daisy experience so much loss in her life? Usually, a clear message comes to my mind of just what I am to learn each time I witness something of nature. I observe an animal or a situation and the message is quickly revealed. But not this time. I do not have a clue what the message is with yet another experience of total loss for Daisy, and for me… this time I am blank. Maybe numb is a better word. I am sad, and I am angry. I feel a bit more hardened about life. Megan and Sophie lived thirty-two days, and all that remains are memories of two frolicking little fawns who danced briefly for their mother. And now the nest is empty. It just is not fair.

But I guess life is not about being “fair”. Life is just life – lived moment to moment. Life and joy come in some moments, death and sadness in others. And in nature, life for one often means death for another. But the circle of life goes on, as spring turns to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. And another spring comes, and the doe has a new spotted fawn, or two, or three – and the cardinal fills her empty nest with another clutch of eggs…

This is the last photograph I have of Daisy and Megan, heading off to the pecan orchard for a little stroll.
This is the last photograph I have of Daisy and Megan, heading off to the pecan orchard for a little stroll.

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


67 thoughts on “An Empty Nest

  1. oh….I am so sorry for your loss and for Daisy. It brought tears as I finished reading. I know how you feel being a rehabber myself. It is difficult to watch these things happen and we as humans do feel things and we love so deeply. There are no easy words that really will make any sense with such a loss. Sending lots of thoughts, hugs and love your way.

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      1. I think you have to be a very strong person emotionally, yet very compassionate to do what you do. I’ve often thought about putting out mineral blocks, and hay for the elk that are always around my house, but never have for fear of making them an easy target for hunters, who have, in the past, had no problem what so ever with shooting a wild animal right out on someone’s property with a high power weapon. Elk/deer hunting camps all around me during hunting season – Makes me sick.

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        1. Susan, I’m afraid that activity on my property would just do me in. We are in a protected area all of the way to the river (about a 1/2 mile) as it’s considered city limits, even though it’s zoned agricultural. That hasn’t stopped poachers and hunters in the past. I have seen plenty of evidence of their presence during hunting season on my walks to the river. I always hope Daisy’s collar will protect her from harm. I think I would do the same as you – not putting out any mineral or feed. There are elk south and west of here, but none in our area. You are very fortunate to have them grace your property. I love having the deer around here. We have planted many deer-friendly trees and plants to provide sanctuary for them.

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  2. Such a thought- provoking article. It is so easy to think of the cycle of life, of predator-prey relationships, abstractly, taking place in the wild. But when one directly observes it, time after time, with animals one is emotionally engaged in, it puts it in a whole light. And brings into high relief that nature is “red in tooth and claw”, that it is not fair, or just, or concerned about the fate of individual animals. It also brings into high relief the difference between humans and (most) animals. Clearly, we both go through a grieving process when faced with loss. But ours is not an annual affair of bringing a new life into the world and nurturing that life for a short span of months or a couple of years, eventually parting ways, and then moving on to the next birth. Our is a life-long attachment. Yet we’ve also all seen many pictures now of the deep affection animals have for each other, both with members of their own species and with members of other species. Yet, we accept that they die in the wild at claws of each other – that viscious predators routinely kill the gentle prey – that this is a fact of life, while we abhor the deaths of members of our own species at the hands of others. Yet we reverence the great complexity of the nature world, of the web of life, and even revere the most impressive of predators. And without the presence of carnivores, herbavores tend to over-populate and destroy their own environment. So the beauty of nature is dependent upon this web of life, of predators and prey. My apolgies for running on. I am saying nothing new and I have no insight to offer…just reflecting upon your stories. It must be very heartbreaking to watch, time after time. Can we accept the facts of life, that other animals live with, as resiliently and gracefully as they do?

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    1. What a lovely comment reflecting on the cycles and ways of nature in comparison to our human species. I realize this is part of my struggle as a human – to live in the moment, accepting what is, with resiliency and grace (I love your ending sentence!). This walk with Daisy has presented many opportunities for me to address my thoughts and beliefs about attachments and concerns regarding situations beyond my control. I hope that one day when I must face Daisy’s disappearance (I hope I do not witness her death), that I will accept it gracefully. Thank you again for your thoughtful expression.~ Lori

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  3. This essay on the cycle of life touches me deeply from a human mother perspective. So much of what you wrote connects with me as a mother. Not that I’ve ever lost a child. But there are losses and the letting go and the challenges and the joys.

    I hope you find your joy again in your Daisy.

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  4. I have wondered from time to time how the little fawns were doing. It makes me very sad to learn they have gone. Your writing is so beautiful and that last photo of Daisy with all the squirrels looks like it could be from a Disney movie. But life is not produced by Disney. Life is life. Nature is hell. Nature is heaven. Hugs to you and Daisy. xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Ardys. Daisy is and always has been that little slice of heaven. And she is still my teacher. I will see her this evening, and I’ll give her that hug from you!

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  5. Oh Lori I am so sorry. I have feared for your Daisy and the little one through all these horrid storms and floods we have been having. I fear for and pray for the safety of my precious little deer friends also. I only recently discovered and started following your wonderful blog and my husband and I both look forward to your next adventure. I have told him in the past week or so that I had a bad feeling about the situation with Daisy and her little one in light of all the storms and it seemed a long time since your last post. I have thought of you many times and knew how very hard it would be to have to deal with more loss. I had so hoped that would not be the case this time and that poor Daisy would be able to raise this last fawn.
    We have a log cabin, (second home) very near Lake of the Arbuckles and Chickasaw Recreation Area, so we are very familiar with the storms, flash floods, river flooding, trees falling, so on, which make it dangerous for the deer and other wildlife.
    I am afraid I get more attached than I should to “our” deer and squirrels, no actually, I must say that I know I do. While it is a great blessing to be able to interact with the wildlife it is distressing indeed to simply have one disappear. And it is always such a relief and a joy when we see one which we have not seen for a while.
    I have witnessed an animal grieving for it’s young, it’s mate, and it’s mother. For some it has been a long process, while others seem able to move on faster. I am thankful that Daisy seems to be doing okay now. Poor little girl.
    And for you I pray for strength, courage and joy to be returned to you. I admire what you are doing very much. I fear I might not handle all that very well at all. I get pretty emotionally involved in spite of myself.
    Thank you for sharing this post and for writing this blog. We look forward to each new one.

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    1. Gaye, that was such a beautiful and heartfelt comment. Thank you for that. It is easy to connect with these wild creatures and love them. Even the critters I do not know personally (that sounds funny!) I grieve for when I see a predator take them down, or I see the remnants of death. Many times I see a scattering of dove feathers, or the tail of a squirrel, or scattered bones of some small mammal on walks along the animal trails. I wonder about their story and sometimes search for clues. I am sure later in the summer when the plants and native grasses have dried up in the heat and it is easier to walk the paths through the pecan orchard and onto the river, perhaps I will find more information about the fawns of the woodlands. For now, I am thankful that Daisy seems to be doing well and that she is healing nicely from her wounds. That is another mystery unsolved. Did she fight in protection of her babies, or did she get hung up in something? It is hard to say at this point.

      The devastation in the Arbuckles was greater than what we endured here during the month of May. In fact, I-35 is still just one lane in the Arbuckle region, due to that rock slide. I just heard a report this morning on the news about many flood-control dams needing emergency repair all across the state, with not enough funding to cover costs. I hope your cabin property is in a safe area and not in a floodplain. We are just a half-mile from the Washita river, but we are on high ground.

      I’m so happy you found my blog. May I ask how you came across it? I find it interesting to see how folks stumble upon it. 🙂 Thank you again for your kind words.

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      1. Lori yes our area of Oklahoma really has taken some devastating hits with the floods. The work just seems to go on and on with trying to rebuild and repair the damages and so many times of it too. It has been just crazy.
        Our cabin is high enough to have not been endangered. Since we don’t live there full time and when we would hear another flood was coming we would end up coming back to our main residence so can’t know for certain how high the water got during the worst of it. But we had a lot of erosion with soil washing down the drive and the drive getting deep ruts and tree roots having soil washed off them. We have worked hard at trying to help these issues ourselves. My husband put in a small dry creek to try to help with the flow of water and it flows to a run-off creek behind the cabin.
        Thanks for your concern. It is interesting for a couple of oldies like us to attempt to do what we are doing but we love it there in our beautiful woods. I would live there full time if I only could.
        You asked how I found your blog. I am not certain but I think it was during some of the rainy cloudy weather and in boredom I did a search for Oklahoma nature blogs or something like that. I hit pay dirt when I found yours. Both my husband and I love it and he will even ask me if I have heard more from the Daisy deer girl yet….lol.
        Daisy so reminds us of one of the does I have become friends with. I feel so attached to that little doe and her yearlings and love her two little fawns that she has now. We also have a deer who feeds in our woods and it was seriously wounded a few months back. We think it was hit by a car. The poor thing limps horribly but she has survived. She is too wild for me to attempt any kind of care and will just now allow me within about 25 feet or so. There are so many dangers for them. I never knew just how many dangers the deer face in daily life until we bought the cabin and I started to attempt to get to know them. Some know me now and will come when they see me…this thrills my soul. lol
        Thanks Lori! Be encouraged! What you are doing is wonderful and we look forward to your next entry. Gaye

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        1. Gosh, Gaye… you made my day again today! Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to be so close to nature… and the deer? Daisy has taught me so much, and she came along at a very stressful time in my life. I think she saved me in a way. I needed to slow down, rest, and live in the moment as wild creatures do. When we interact and connect with nature, it’s as if we open our eyes for the first time. We see everything differently. I believe I came to a place of healing by bonding with her. I think it is a wonderful thing that you have befriended the wounded deer. Wildlife is resilient. I am continually amazed at the healing rate of an injured animal. Daisy’s had a couple of wounds that I wondered that she would pull through. Little Willow (Spirit’s fawn from last autumn) had a deep wound in the chest/front leg area, open to the bone… and yet in two weeks she no longer had a limp and the area seemed clean and had healed nicely. They’re just amazing creatures.

          We have access to a cabin in a remote, undeveloped area not far from here. FD helped to design and build the structure. It’s an amazing place, and I love to take my camera and just wander around the area, capturing whatever presents itself. I understand you wishing you could be at your cabin full time. I think it is something FD and I would enjoy very much too. We love watching those Alaska shows where people are living simply. I’m not sure I could tolerate the temperatures there, but that kind of life is certainly appealing!

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  6. Dear Lori,
    I have been feeling as though something bad had happened to Daisy’s babies these last couple of weeks, and been waiting with a little trepidation for your next blog post, hoping that I was wrong. I’m so very sorry for your loss and that of Daisy’s. I must admit I have watched birds build nests time and time again in our yard only to have currawongs, kookaburras, cats or snakes take them every single time and been frustrated for them. But they seem to continue on. The grief seems to be felt more by mammals. It must been so heartbreaking to hear Daisy’s calls and watch her behaviour. I’ve seen the same thing with nanny goats and ewes, but it wasn’t as personal for me as they weren’t raised by me. I am glad Daisy’s physical wounds are healing. I really don’t know what to say, Lori. I think you’ve expressed perfectly that feeling of loss and frustration and anger that happens when we see this happen again and again, especially to an animal that you’ve been emotionally close to. You really are her mum. I don’t have any answers. The natural world can be brutal sometimes and at other times so wondrous. We can accept the cycles of life as being natural but it doesn’t mean we don’t experience grief. Thank you for sharing these experiences so beautifully and honestly with us. Sending you much love and healing embraces from someone else who has known grief and despair. xx

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    1. Jane, thank you so much. You have written about some of the losses you have witnessed – I think predation is more common in your part of the world than it is here. You live with some scary predators – at least to me! This loss has prompted me to do more research on predation in Oklahoma, and I was a bit flabbergasted at the results. I suppose that it is normal for us to have blinders on about some issues until it stares us smack in the face. When we lost Heidi and Dancer last year I just did not want to believe it could be coyotes. These fawns were six-months old – could run faster than Daisy (Daisy is a small doe) and knew the layout of the woodland area. So, I suspected maybe a mountain lion. The State does not talk much about mountain lions in the area. I don’t think they want people to panic so they keep information low-key. But there have been sightings not far from here. After reading on coyote predation in the lower midwestern states, and also reports of packs of wild dogs increasing, I had to rethink my theory on what happened to last year’s fawns. According to one 2014 study of a wildlife preserve just forty miles from here, the loss of fawns (due to predation, motor vehicle accidents, disease, starvation due to the drought,etc) was more than 87%. That is outrageously high. Other surrounding areas, the numbers were 50% to 80% loss. I saw photographs of yearlings being taken by coyotes as well. And, I realized that coyotes, though often solitary, do kill in packs at times. And even worse, wild dogs are more brutal in “pack kills” than coyotes. Though I have only seen a very few coyotes visit this place, I have seen a lone one or two near the river on walks. And I see tracks in our woodlands far more often than I see the actual coyote or wild dog. So they exist.

      I feel a sense of relief after writing this blog post. I felt a burden lift as I hit the “publish” button. I knew I would hear words of comfort and encouragement from so many of you… and it prompts me to get back out there and live the experience to write about it! Thank you for your compassion and loving spirit. It means more than you know.

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  7. Lori, when I saw the title of this post, I knew what was to come. And I was read this post and I really did not want to read… but I did and all I could mutter was damn, damn, damn and I hope I have not offended you here. I have wondered in the past how you have coped with the loss of Daisy’s other offspring but this seems for some reason, just too much.

    Frankly I would be distraught and I’m sure that you are devastated over the loss of her fawns. I’d be hard pressed to find a bounty hunter to go after the coyotes. But in reality these are “the Laws of Nature” – the balances and the checks. It’s just so hard when you have a dear living in close proximity that you hand raised and that you could in no way detach yourself from. It is simply not possible.

    The first picture of Daisy peering through the wheat or wild oats is magnificent. If you ever get your book underway, that photo should be included.

    I have no words to describe how sorry I am for Daisy’s loss and the sadness that you must endure. My thoughts are with you. Through this blog, you continue to educate and inspire others, I’m sure, to be more aware of nature and to do their part to help the environment and wildlife.

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    1. That last paragraph about my blog was a lovely compliment to me. You know, I began this blog to write about farm girl life on a little ranch. But the wildlife rehab caused me to be more cognizant of wildlife in the area, and from there it just took off. Mostly I noticed so much more of the woodlands than I ever knew existed, all from observing Daisy in her wildness. I was actually afraid to go into the woods very far before she came along! My desire to venture to the woods and beyond has only flourished over the years. Every aspect of Daisy’s life has taught all of us something. I love mostly that every one who has commented here has shared their perception of life, death and nature, and it’s all beautiful. We come together to share our thoughts about Nature. And that’s what prompts me to write about my experiences with these critters.

      Gosh Yvonne, if I ever get the written words down for the book, I’m going to have a heck of a time choosing photographs. I have thousands!! I might have to come see you and have you help me choose! Thank you also for your encouragement. It really means so much to me. 🙂

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      1. The notification part of the dashboard is an nightmare. It keeps going away and I have worked on my reply to your reply for the past 15 minutes or more. I hate the new format. It is a pain.

        But back to my thoughts. I would be honored to help you choose but really I doubt you need any help. You look for three things mainly. Eye appeal, human interest and one that tells a bit of a story. Whittle down to about 100, then 50, then cull down to 25-30. That’s probably all that a publisher would allow unless you publish the book yourself.

        My compliments are from the heart. I’ve looked at lots of blogs and most are just plain crappy. Even the ones that are supposed to be about nature. Yours is one of the best if not the best that I’ve read and viewed. That includes the prose and the photographs. You have an unpolished stone in the rough and with some editing and condensing will become a true gem.

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        1. Well gosh, Yvonne, that just made my day! Thank you so much!! I was on the “Recommended” WordPress list in the Nature category for a couple of years. That is how most new subscribers found me. Then recently they changed the category to “Science and Nature” and it’s mostly scientific blogging. None of the nature blogs that were listed (and some were very talented people) are on the Recommended list in any category. I haven’t acquired many new subscribers since. I am always curious to know how my blog is discovered these days. The post, “Following the Animal Trail… The Scoop on Poop” is still the most read post – with viewers every single day!

          I’m not real happy with the mobile app for WordPress. I do most of my work on the desktop, and recently I’ve been in the middle of writing and everything just vanishes! It’s very discouraging and frustrating to lose thoughts that way.

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          1. I lost things in the past and it was discovered that I had some very bad viruses and some of that other crappy stuff. It had also affected my email. I got rid of Norton and had also used McAfee. A young woman that helps me with my pets(sometimes) told be about one that she uses. It costs $100 per year but I’ve not had any problems since. She does medical transcriptions for some MDs in Houston so she has to have good computer security.

            I had no idea about the nature suggestion thing from WP. I am getting teed off with WP because some of the changes are not for the best and in your case it surely messed up things for you. I’m sorry about that. I wish I had suggestions as a remedy. 🙂

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          2. I am not a techy person and I am not even interested in learning more about how all of my “gadgets” work. They probably are never used to their full ability! FD’s family is super talented in the arts (of all kinds) and I’m hoping one of them might be interested in helping me revamp my blog… it needs a facelift. As for the content, I save every post off site along with photographs. I have paid for additional space and no ads on my blog for two years now. It’s just $50 a year which I chalk up to entertainment/hobby. I never use all of the space in a year, so additional space just piles on. I need to utilize the ability to improve and make the blog better. I get overwhelmed trying to look at how to make changes (like adding tabs/categories) for easier reference. I’d like to display photographs in a more eye-appealing way. I’m not completely ga ga over WordPress’s format, but there are many out there that offer less options. And I will say in my experience, the tech support and customer service end of WordPress have been outstanding. That means a lot to me.

            We pay a pretty penny for our online backup and storage, but it’s worth it. It’s user-friendly and convenient. There is no way I could ever replace thousands of photos of wildlife… and my book will depend on those photographs to jog my memory!

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          3. Yes, I know the feeling about wanting to jazz up one’s blog. I’d like to change mine but it’s user friendly and I like how it gives the category and dates and tags. I extended my comments (several years ago) to remain open up to 4 or 5 years. Every now and then some one comes along that comments on a post from years ago and I like that very much.

            I hope you’ll be lucky and get some one to help you achieve what you want with your blog. I wish I had a handy computer person. They are few and far between. 🙂

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  8. This is an excellent piece. Now we know where you were all these days.
    Of course this is the cycle of life but as sensitive humans, we do get emotional about such things – be it an animal, bird or another fellow human. When we got Tyson years ago, he was just a few weeks old and looked lost. My daughter decided he should be “sent back to his mother” because “she must be missing him” but over a few days, she got over it. Surely, some weeks later, even the mother would’ve forgotten about him. That’s nature.
    Losing a loved one is always distressing – so what if its an animal or a bird. It’s a living being. And, especially for the Deer Mother, I realise it is heartbreaking.
    Welcome back, anyway!

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    1. Thank you, Mandeep! I can always count on you to roust me back to my writing again! I needed to write this piece in order to move on. I had a blockage of sorts, my writing went blank, but at the same time I feel the need to purge all of this and get it out of my system. Of course there has been much more going on around here and I was and still am very busy this summer. But at least I can get to the keyboard now that I have finished the hardest piece to write. There are good things happening here too! 🙂

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  9. It would be hard for me to stay detached doing the work you do, but I recognize the need for it since I was a nurse many moons ago. There’s a difference between compassion and attachment—caring for the wounded or sick with kindness and efficiency while knowing and accepting their eminent death. The animals you raise are prey, and you’ve described a number of natural predators in your wilds. To think of it in a different way, you are raising food for the predators.

    I’ve often wondered about your choice to name your little patients and the deer’s fawns. Naming creates intimacy and a kind of “owning.” I think of the way native peoples identified animals in their area by characteristics—Spotted, Limping, Howling, One-Ear, etc. This used to feel a little cold to me, but now I see how wise this practice might be.

    Several folks have said that Nature is cruel. I don’t agree. Nature is. We can’t change the Laws, we can only learn and live within them. I’m sorry for your sorrow and anger. They are as much teachers as your wild charges.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. You have made an important point here about the Native American’s identifying with characteristics. I always thought that was interesting and perhaps it makes better sense to use this tool in referencing future fawns. We actually live in an area populated by mostly Native American people. This way of “referencing” seems to fit. Mostly, names were chosen as a way to easily reference them in writing.

      I realize more and more that my walk with the wild things has become more about observing and learning from these teachers of the woodlands. It has forced me to look at my humanness in a different light, both as the predator and the preyed upon. I agree that “Nature is”. Death is a part of life, and if I hold the beliefs that I do about the Universe/God, then death is not to be feared. My real sorrow is for Daisy, and clearly she has moved on. It will be a different kind of summer for me… but there will be adventure too. Nature is full of the unexpected!

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        1. I know… sometimes I wish I had access to her thoughts and feelings. I think the closest I can get to that is “mutual grooming” with her. There’s a bond in caring for each other in that way – cleaning and grooming the areas that can’t be reached, as well as healing wounds, and leaving scent on each other (I use my hands to mimic the licking – and I often scratch parasites off of her which she seems to enjoy). Last year when I saw Spirit mooing pitifully for Willow, and Daisy, Heidi and Dancer gathered around and licked her, I knew they had a compassionate spirit. I might not know Daisy’s thoughts or feelings, but it’s more about reading energy for me. I think animals live in the moment and don’t really have thoughts. Daisy is generally very alert and even if I have distracted her by petting or scratching her she is still “in the moment” of enjoying the attention. I wish I was better at living in the moment. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Cherity. Daisy has already adjusted to her unusual summer without babies tagging along. I think it helps to know that other doe we see has lost her fawn(s) as well. Daisy and this doe and her yearling buck (he’s a scraggly boy) seem to be running together so she is not alone.

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  10. When you live in close proximity with nature you start to realise just how removed we humans have take ourselves away from reality. Reality isn’t rainbows and kittens and it isn’t always pretty. You have engaged even more closely with nature than most of us will ever do and you have laid yourself open to having to go through the sadness of loss along with the joy of watching nature thrive. I think the message is that every year there is new hope. Nature brings us something new every year and whether we lose something in the process, it doesn’t stop that incredibly birthing surge every year when winter is over and the possibilities of spring roll around again. My cousin’s daughter, who is a single mum, just lost her 7 year old daughter to a very rare and incurable brain tumour that only claims children. We are all left asking “why?!” but at the end of the day it is the luck of the draw and we are reminded to live each day as the precious gift that it is. Big hugs Lori. I know how much you love Daisy and your other little foundlings.

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    1. Thank you, Fran. We’ve had this conversation before… and I am sure it will come again. We would not understand joy if it were not for the experience of sorrow. Daisy has moved on. Already she is running with her doe friend and the doe’s yearling buck. She’s social, and eating, and doing what deer do. I know I will face the day when she does not return. That day will be tough. But I am so happy Daisy has managed to be wild for so long – yet she hasn’t forgotten her weird parents. She will be my teacher as long as she’s allowed to be here. I would do it all again. That’s what we all do. It is not living if we play everything safe or we never venture out into the unknown.

      I am so sorry for your cousin’s daughter. Those are the most difficult situations for parents. I have no idea how a parent carries on after losing a child.

      I love you my friend… I hope Brunhilda is stoked and warming the cockles of your heart!

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      1. Brunhilda certainly is warming the cockles Ms Lori. I bet it’s hot where you are. Here it is record colds but I am guessing we are due for record hots in summer so I am enjoying the heck out of our current situation prior to it reverting back to the Sahara desert ;).

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        1. Ha ha!! You’ve got that right. This week is the beginning of the real inferno type heat! Triple digits are in the forecast… and that “heat dome” they talk about is sitting right over Oklahoma. Still, I would choose this over freezing. Of course Brunhilda and Earl are appealing thoughts… as long as Earl keeps his slobbers to himself! 🙂

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          1. Who knows where we will be in our 60’s. The powers that be are talking about a mini ice age in 2030. You might be living in the Oklahoma equivalent of Norway when you are in your 60’s and singing like Julie Anthony “The hills are alive with the sound of snow!” 😉

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          2. Good gosh I hope not! I’m not fond of the cold and I don’t sing worth a flip. Hey, that ending should be “the sound of snowfall”. Remember, the word music was more like “myooo-zick” in the song. Snooooow-faaaaal will work just fine! But I truly hope I’m not singing that! ha ha!

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  11. So sorry to hear about Daisy’s loss – and yours. I too feel a bit of dread each year whenever new fawns are born, and I only experience it through your writing, wondering if this year they will live. It seems not, again, and that makes me sad.

    Maybe the lesson is focused on Daisy; she has suffered loss three years in a row, one of the worst things that might happen in life, yet somehow she carries on. She is an inspiration. And I’m so glad Daisy herself is well, if a little battered.

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    1. Thank you, Rachel. I think you’ve summed it up well. We don’t know how it will be from year to year… but we learn much from the experience, whatever it ends up being. These three years of loss have all been different situations, and we have learned much about Daisy’s life. I never thought much about deer before she came along. I never thought about any of the wild animals and birds until we moved on this place. I am aware of the rhythm of the woodlands continually now. It is as much a part of me as the air that I breathe. I’m thankful for this awakening and appreciation of Nature. I am also thankful for so many friends like you, who understand these bonds with Nature. Daisy has no clue how she has touched people. She is a teacher and a gift to us all. 🙂

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  12. Hi Lori, I have a confession to make. I saw the title of your post I my email inbox and jmailI knew what had happened, again, and put off reading the story. It seems particularly cruel that Daisy has lost so many fawns. I I think that naming them by their characteristics would help with your own grief. Daisy shows you the way. She searches and ‘mourns’ for a brief perion and seems to move on.Shegoesback to ordinary life and doesn’t appear to be suffering. I really hope you can find the energy to compile a book one day and the headline photo of Daisy would make a perfect book cover. Although I’ve waited to write to you, my thoughts have benn with you like everyone else who reads your blog. . I recently made a note of this: Don’t look at the past, you’re not going that way. Take care xxxx

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    1. I decided to just come out with the news in the title. I know there are some people who are more tender-hearted and might not wish to read it or maybe wait for a day where they were more prepared. I had actually waited more than a week to write about it because I was still hopeful that Daisy’s udder wasn’t shrinking… but I knew from her activity that she was no longer acting like a mother. Daisy’s first losses were longer in mourning or grieving than this last set of twins. She moved on fairly quickly – this last week she is back with the doe and her yearling buck, and she seems content. This morning she and her little herd were raiding the peach and apple trees, before setting off to the pecan orchard and beyond. It helps me to know she’s enjoying her wild life… and moving forth. I love the saying you made note of. You’re right of course… we move forward. Thank you… what I wouldn’t give for a day of lovely conversation with you, Henrietta. Of course we’d probably want more than a day! 🙂

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    1. I do the same thing all of the time! I tend to be quite relaxed in my comments. For some reason I don’t worry about typo’s in my comments to others. And in receiving comments, gee, I’m just happy to hear from folks!! Who cares about the spelling?? 🙂

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  13. Hi Lori, I am sorry to learn you are going through a hard time at present with hope being replaced by despair – yet again. Through your posts I am coming to appreciate how the odds are stacked against fawns reaching adulthood.
    Best wishes to you. May joy be yours once again.

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    1. Thank you so much Margaret. I think it has helped to write this piece and lay the disappointment to rest. Each time Daisy has lost her fawns, it shows us just how difficult it is in the wild. And, on the flip side, we are also shown the resilience of nature. There is always a lesson. And there is joy in every season. I appreciate you kind words, my friend.

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  14. What a terrific post. I’m glad you put words to the sadness you felt. It’s hard to live in nature and see how tough it can be. I’m constantly feeling divided loyalties to all the critters who need to eat one another to survive. One day I was writing outside and a little fawn ran up to me, all spots and curiosity. We just stared at each other, then she ran off. So cute! My heart strings were thrumming. Then two days later, here came one of our local wolves, whom we also love and want to protect, trotting by with the little fawn’s hindquarter in its mouth. I was depressed for days. It’s so hard.

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    1. Thanks, Monica. It felt good to write it out, and as the days go by it’s easier. It helps mostly that Daisy has moved on and she’s hanging with a doe and her yearling buck. I think in your part of the country, predation is even more of an issue, and I’m sure you see it way more frequently than I do here. I have some photographs of kills and I suppose one day I’ll post them, but for now it’s too fresh. I’m still prone to tears, and on a bad day I just want to be alone to walk with Daisy in the woods. These meetings with the wild critters are a gift, regardless of how it turns out. When I read your words about the little fawn, my first thought was, “Life is lived by the moment – frolic and be free to run!” You and Chris have managed that well. Thanks again for your caring words and for sharing about your touching meeting with the fawn.

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  15. It’s good to have friends – whether man or beast, companionship or just another standing close, it seems to help. Life is fragile. We know that, but the fact doesn’t really seem to sink in. Being able to move on is necessary for survival. Many animals know and manage, but sometimes people with all their thinking abilities cannot shift gears and realize it is what it is. Hard to watch – especially for those like you who are so close to real existence and nature. HUGS You contribute more than you know.
    (And yes, that first picture is outstanding – I started to just leave that as a comment)

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    1. Thank you! I didn’t notice that photo so much until I mistakenly put it on before the body of text. I never do that (photos first, then first paragraph) but it just seemed right so I left it. Losing these fawns has really caused me to think about my own beliefs on death – whether natural causes or some tragedy. If I believe as I do, then I should be able to move on easily and purposefully, just as Daisy has done. It also helps to see so many people here who are like-minded in that respect. Many positive people and lovely comments. Those hugs and love sure do mean a lot! 🙂

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  16. Such a wonderful story. I think I hear my husband say at least once a month “nature is so cruel.” I guess this is why he’ll have no part in my animal life here on our small farm! Yes, there are tragic moments, but we just have to accept them and move on. You are a dear, and your caring heart is appreciated by all.

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  17. Oh Lori, your blog post was an honest and heartbreaking account of natural life, both human and animal. Your heart is huge, which makes managing the losses even harder.
    I’m so very sorry for Daisy, and for you.
    I just spent 10 minutes searching for a book that my mother gave me years ago. It’s called “The Heart of the Valley” by Nigel Hinton. It is a novel that (from the back cover) “takes the reader straight to the heart of a bird’s life”. Your description of Daisy and whether or not she was still grieving reminded me of this book. How long do animals grieve?
    I’m not suggesting your read this now, but the story of the birds in this novel have stayed with me all these years later.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Laurie. I know you have a super busy schedule these days. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I will definitely check on that book and read it. If it stayed with you all of this time, I know I will love it too.

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    1. It has been difficult for me, Mike. Spirit disappearing was the last straw for me. Daisy seems to be doing well though. She has companionship with another doe about her age and the doe’s yearling buck. I’m glad she isn’t alone.

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