For most of my life, I have been too proud to ask for help. Farm people are like that and, growing up in an agricultural community, my family was no different. In a farm community, there is an understanding of compassion, while still knowing that folks will generally just tough it out – whatever “it” is. Because of this prideful character, there are times of real need but no help is requested. However, it is also a common character of farm folks, where family, friends, and neighbors will pitch in and help those in need – often without being asked. But for the most part, the rural people I grew up around rely on prayer and great resilience to manage their lives from day to day. And, over my life, I have certainly asked for a little prayer here and there, but I never had anything catastrophic to deal with.
Looking back, it is evident that folks had fewer options in those days, in getting help or just with getting the word out that a person might need a helping hand or a little advice. All we had when I was a kid was a telephone in the house on a “party line”, where most of the neighbors were connected to the same circuit, with only a unique ring to differentiate one party’s calls from another. With this configuration, one could also listen in on another’s conversation, if so inclined. I remember my folks talking about the “snoops and gossipy people” in our area who liked to know everyone’s business – often via things “overheard” during a party-line telephone conversation. Maybe for this reason, the phone was not used much in our household.
My parents also limited television watching to just the few stations that provided news and weather in the evenings. For the most part, news happenings local to our nearby town of only around 600 people, came either from our friends and classmates at school, or if Dad happened to hear something while he was at his day job at the book bindery in town. Thinking back on this, I guess I never really thought about how isolated we lived in my little community. Now, we watch news on television, or from our cell phones or computers, as it is happening. And, by utilizing one of the tremendous search engines offered via the Internet, there is no longer a need to wait for information to come to us, as we can, almost instantly, get the answer to nearly any burning question we have.
Back on May 29, 2011, I was no different from anyone else who found themselves faced with a situation they had never dealt with before. On that day, I was combing the internet for information about whitetail fawns – how to care for an orphaned fawn, what to feed them, how often, and how to provide for what other needs they might have. After deciding to take on orphaned fawn Daisy deer, hundreds of questions flooded my mind about how to properly care for her, and thankfully there were many articles to view and pour over. But the biggest help came when my husband, FD, managed to contact Kimra Plaisance, a woman with a Flickr photography account who had raised a fawn a few years before. FD had actually been researching where he might find a fluorescent orange collar designed specifically for deer, as we knew we wanted something that would let hunters know that Daisy had been raised by humans. The search engine he used, produced a variety of results – mostly with pictures and information regarding collars designed for hunting dogs – but one result stood out. The picture that came up with a link to Kimra’s Flickr account was of a whitetail doe, wearing just the type of collar FD was looking for. On her Flickr page, Kimra had several more photographs of the deer wearing the collar and, fortunately, a link FD could use to try to make contact with her and ask where we might purchase collars like the deer in the photos was wearing. Even more remarkable, was that Kimra, who rarely checked on her Flickr account, noticed FD’s email asking for help that very next day when she decided, quite out of the blue, to add a few more photos of “Sassy” to her collection. You may view Kimra’s photographs at “Our Deer Sassy“.
Needless to say, Kimra’s response regarding the collars (which she made herself) was welcomed. But more than this, it was Kimra’s wisdom and advice she offered about raising an orphaned deer that was the biggest blessing – in a time when I needed one most. I cannot tell you how comforting it was, over the next weeks, months, and years, to know that I could contact Kimra at any time when I needed advice about Daisy’s care or some predicament she had gotten into. Many times, I voiced to Kimra my worries and concerns about Daisy, and was always met with heartfelt compassion and words of comfort and, sometimes, tough-love, but always with care and understanding. We had some good laughs and some tearful moments along the way and, the more we talked, the more we realized all the many things we had in common. In the very beginning, and certainly as our relationship grew, FD and I knew we would meet Kimra and Sassy one day.
This year, while making plans to head to west Texas in late June to visit family and bring back our great-niece, Haley, for the summer, we realized we would be mighty close to the area near Abilene, TX where Kimra and her husband Nick live. When asked if a visit from FD and I would be feasible for Kimra and Nick during this time frame, Kimra informed us it would be a good year to visit, as Sassy was now ten years-old and was beginning to show her age. So, we made arrangements to stop at their home before meeting Haley and her family, who would be coming in from Lubbock to meet us in Abilene. This would allow us an overnight stay to finally meet Kimra and Nick and, hopefully, get to see Sassy and her herd.
I knew from the first welcoming smiles, and in that first big hug, that Kimra was the same warm and assuring person I had imagined after reading her first email, and from the first phone conversations we had shared in the past. Getting to know Kimra and Nick and learn about their lives and experiences made time fly during our short, twenty-four-hour-visit to their home. We toured their land and took in their mostly off the grid ways of living. There were critters everywhere, some domestic, some wild. Native grasses and prairie flowers made up the bulk of their “yard”, and their rustic, log cabin home fit very well into the wild, desolate landscape of west Texas. And what a thrill it was, that first evening to see Sassy deer slowly emerge from the trees – a small but confident, gray-faced beauty who carried the same scars of barbed wire that we often see etched on Daisy deer’s coat. Sassy readily accepted slices of an apple that Kimra offered her to nibble on, and did not shy away from FD or me at all. Sassy was definitely showing her age, but Kimra noted she had still managed to birth a fawn this spring. While FD and I petted and fed apple slices to Sassy, a few of her family herd milled about nearby, feeding on corn that Nick had scattered for them.
While we visited with Kimra, it warmed my heart to listen to her stories about Sassy’s life, and how she has touched the lives of many people, because we often hear how our own Daisy deer has brought awareness and something special to people who meet her or hear about her. Like the story of Daisy, Sassy’s story also includes both triumph and tragedy. If you care to read Sassy’s story, you can find it here. The stories of Sassy and Daisy, both speak to me of the resilience of nature. These two amazing deer survived through the helping hands of humans. And our experience with Daisy was enriched because we reached for help from other humans, and a caring person offered her compassionate wisdom. I often think about how amazing life has been for me since I opened my heart to one little deer, and how taking her in opened my world and my experience to profound love, in such a magnificent way.
Whether people ask for help, or we simply observe that they need it, we are all capable of stepping forward and being the friend who offers a helping hand to pitch in and work, or gives one in need an encouraging pat on the back. I know my own life has been changed forever by asking for advice and help from others when I needed it. And, even though we might be putting ourselves in a vulnerable position by asking for the help of another, I know it is well worth the chance to discover, experience, and allow ourselves the love of another human being – like my dear, deer-friend, Kimra.
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…