Detecting Danger

It became apparent to me that Daisy was in labor on the first day of June. We had not seen much of her with the ruckus of dogs on the loose over the past few months, so I was surprised to spot her down at the feeder that morning, standing in a gentle rain. Donning my boots and a rain jacket, I walked down to pet her and pulled a few ticks off of her face. Nonchalantly, I moved to her rear to have a look at her udder and vaginal area. Sure enough, all signs indicated Daisy would soon have her babies. Rain was in the forecast for the next two days and just like every other year Daisy delivered babies, she would again have them in the rain. This always made sense to me, since rain would wash away any signs and smells of a birthing, thus offering the mother and babies a natural kind of protection from predators.

Daisy deer stands in the rain to have a bit of corn. That's Buddy the squirrel beside her. Squirrels are such opportunists - nibbling up the droppings!
Daisy deer stands in the rain to have a bit of corn. That’s Buddy the squirrel beside her. Squirrels are such opportunists – nibbling up the droppings!

Later in the afternoon, Daisy returned. This time, I saw her from the kitchen window. She stood in the clover patch, intently watching the neighbor’s backyard. Several times she lifted her nose to catch scent. After a time, she sauntered towards her old deer pen, at which I felt a tinge of sadness. For the first time since we had raised Daisy, the gates to her pen were closed. Soon, Emma deer would inhabit those quarters, where Daisy would normally have used the pen to hide her own babies. But this year, we could not risk Daisy’s reaction to Emma (just in case it was not a friendly meeting), or taking the chance of shutting Emma in the pen with one of Daisy’s new babies unknowingly hidden inside. As these thoughts rolled through my mind, Daisy nosed the gate to her pen. I walked away feeling terrible about keeping her out of the place that had meant safety to her for the last five years.

Daisy will be eating a lot of clover over the next three months while nursing her babies.
Daisy will be eating a lot of clover over the next three months while nursing her babies.
Daisy hears the neighbor's dogs barking.
Daisy hears the neighbor’s dogs barking.
Daisy's belly looks like someone's little leg is poking around in there!
Daisy’s belly looks like someone’s little leg is poking around in there!
Daisy catches scent on the breeze. She knows danger exists on the other side of the fence. Our neighbor's yard has always been the place she chose to birth her young.
Daisy catches scent on the breeze. She knows danger exists on the other side of the fence. Our neighbor’s yard has always been the place she chose to birth her young. But with seven dogs on the property, it would not be a safe place at all this year.
Daisy is at full alert watching the dogs play in the distance.
Daisy is at full alert watching the dogs play in the distance.

Finally, Daisy turned away from her focus on her traditional birthing ground in the neighbor’s backyard, sauntered towards the slope, and then took off in a gallop down the hill, headed west and then north into the pecan orchard where I lost sight of her. I wondered where she would go to have her babies, but had no doubt that she had a place in mind. And, after losing all but one of her twins in the last four years, I wondered if her chances might not be better elsewhere. At least, I certainly hoped they would be…

Daisy Deer_5760

© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


27 thoughts on “Detecting Danger

  1. Oh gee. Lori was there no other place to put Emma and let Daisy have the pen? I feel awful for that poor deer. You have to wonder what she was thinking when she could not get in the pen. The pics are simply great. Wonderful documentation for anyone that might be studying deer behavior and or for your followers to learn about deer, pregnancy and, birthing.

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I feel like this whole story of life with Daisy deer and now Emma, is about a study in the life of deer. It’s truly fascinating. My years of watching Daisy with her young, are helping me with Emma. Already I use the “buzz” noise (that Daisy uses) to call Emma to me. I never knew about the call a mother deer makes to her young until I observed Daisy. We also try to make Emma’s feeding time as close to normal as we can . I feed the bottle while FD does the potty stimulation. I sometimes have to do it all by myself if FD isn’t around to help, and I can tell you… real mother deer has her plate full with two fawns to look after!

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  2. I am thinking that it was actually lucky that Daisies pen gate was shut. She may have felt falsely safe enclosed inside and the neighbours dogs may have been able to get at her. Best she learns that it isn’t safe birthing that close to the neighbours and moves further afield. As you say, I am sure she has somewhere safe in mind. She has the best of both worlds, wild hindsight as well as being raised by humans and knowing that she has somewhere to go to get food and water when she needs it (and tick grooming, never underestimate tick grooming 😉 ). Fingers crossed this year she gets to keep her foals and that they grow up big and strong.

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    1. Ha ha! Daisy must enjoy the tick removal as she has always let us get to the most tender areas (eyes and rear-end!) to pull them off. I know she will be fine. We’ve seen her and she’s acting like a normal mama and her udder is sometimes full so I know she’s feeding babies. I just wonder where they are!

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  3. I’ve thought of Daisy so often these last days, and I’m hopeful that she has found a better, safer place to keep her babies this time around. I think it’s just beautiful and amazing that she comes back to visit, and that she remembers her old deer pen too. She has taught you, and all your readers, so much about a deer’s life. And because of her, you are a more experienced deer mother for Emma. Your never ending love and care for animals, both wild and domesticated, shows just how big your heart is, Big Sister! So amazed by you!!!

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    1. Mom and I were just talking about how I helped with you when you were a baby. You taught me a lot too you know… and what a blessing your kids have been to FD and me. People, animals… all sorts of beings come and go in our lives, and there is something to glean from all of it. Life is good, isn’t it?

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. We have spotted Daisy a few times at the feeders, so I feel she has her babies nearby. She’s showing every sign of being an alert mama on patrol!

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  4. I seem to have missed a fair bit while I was changing blogs and getting my review gig going! Can you tell me about Emma, and how she came to you? Wishing Daisy all the best with the upcoming birth!

    Gemma xx

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    1. Hello Gemma! I have much catching up to do on your blog too! Emma was reported to the police in a small town. Apparently she was alongside a road by herself. The police picked her up and put her in the animal control pound overnight. It was another day before our county game warden picked her up and brought her to us. What a rough start she had!!

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  5. What a beautiful story and beautiful pictures. I feel like I’m getting an education in wildlife and I find it all very interesting. Fingers crossed for Daisy and her babies. Thanks for sharing this captivating account of life.

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  6. Oh, I feel your sadness for Daisy but also your protectiveness for Emma. What a time. I can’t imagine all you must know from Daisy that will help Emma. Fascinating. Sending all of you good thoughts. xx

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    1. I bet everything will be fine, Tom. Daisy is a good mother. The more I’m around fawns and realize how investigative they can be and how they panic as they get older and don’t stay put – that is usually what gets them in trouble. I think most does are very good mothers and highly protective and nurturing.

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    1. Henri, we have seen Daisy a few times at the feeders. I’m sure everything is fine as she is every bit the alert mama! I bet she has the babies not far from here.

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