I was busy tidying up the back porch when Daisy arrived early one morning last week. Seeing her, I threw my broom aside and dashed to the feed bins on the porch to put a few scoops of feed and a deer attractant we call “fruity kibbles” in a bucket. Then, I quickly dashed inside to put long pants on, and donned my muck boots since the woodland bottom is a mucky mess from recent rains. Lastly, I grabbed an old windbreaker on my way out the door to keep the mosquitoes from biting me. I had seen Daisy at the feeder a couple of times the last few days, but she was always on high alert and did not stay long. I knew she had babies hidden somewhere close by and she would not be far from them for very long. I felt she had her fawns hidden out north of our place, but I had not been able to follow her, as she usually took off running whenever I tried to follow.
But this morning was different. Daisy took her time at the feeder and mineral stone. She nibbled on the fruity kibbles, then went to the water tub for a long drink. Next she mosied over to the clover patch and spent a lot of time nipping off clover heads. She kept alert all of this time, looking off to the north with her ears up straight. Sometimes, she would stop eating and just listen and watch, but eventually she went back to grazing. I noted her udder was quite full, so I knew that meant she would be heading back to feed her babies soon.
After her quick feeding session, Daisy took a final lick on the mineral stone and sauntered towards the pecan orchard. She stepped through the middle of the barbed wire fence, which was unusual. Generally she opted to go under the bottom wire of the fence. She munched on weeds along the way, and I tried to follow quietly, but human feet are, unfortunately not designed for quietness. I trailed behind her, making snapping noises as I crunched twigs under my feet, and creating sucking sounds from my boots in the areas where it was quite muddy. A couple of times Daisy looked back as if to say, “Can you possibly make more noise?” Finally, she stopped and ducked under a fence. There was plenty of room for me to get under the fence too, but it was muddy and cattle had trod in it. Cow patties seemed to be everywhere. I looked to see if there was another place to roll under the fence but I didn’t see any better spot. This was the driest, muddy section there was! Rats! And, not waiting on me, Daisy slowly walked on sniffing and taking a bite of poison ivy as she headed east. I needed to get under the fence before she got too far away! Finally I found a couple of pieces of wood to lay under the barbed wire, and bearing most of my upper body weight on them in a push-up sort of pose, I crossed under the fence without getting too muddy.
Exhausted from the push-up maneuver, my heart was hammering. I wondered how, with all of the work I do on our place, a simple movement like that could get the best of me? I took several deep breaths before proceeding to catch up with Daisy, who was still dawdling around, nibbling browse. I finally caught up with her and, as she walked ahead of me, I stood in awe of the scene. Next to an embankment was a stream of clear water. Ahead were hundreds of trumpet vine flowers scattered about, having fallen from the vine. Just a few rays of sunlight pierced through the tree canopy above. The temperature was cool here and there weren’t any insects – most notably, no mosquitoes! Daisy stopped to take a long drink and then continued to walk back to the south a bit, and slowly meandered up the embankment. As I followed Daisy, I realized she had chosen the easiest route to take to the top. I could see she had walked this path before, as numerous hoof prints marked a trail all the way to the top. Daisy looked back at me just as she reached the top, and I wondered what she was thinking of me at that moment. My rubber boots were actually some of FD’s old boots, and they were just a tad big on me, so trying to climb the muddy embankment was a real challenge. When I finally reached the top, Daisy seemed quite relaxed, nibbling weeds without a care in the world. We were now on a vacant property just north of our place which was not kept up. Though within city limits, this area was zoned agricultural, but the individual who owned it did not have a use for it. As a consequence, the weeds were tall – I would guess some were more than six feet tall. Still, there were meadow flowers in some of the shorter grasses, and trees with very low-hanging branches. If I were a kid, this would be a wonderland full of fantasy potential. Even as an adult, I could see myself curled up, sitting with my back against a tree trunk, while reading a good book in the shade and perfectly hidden from everyone. All of a sudden, the noise of a mower running on the next property had my attention and Daisy on full alert. In seconds, she made a couple of leaps and disappeared into the tall weeds. I lost sight of her and wondered now if she had her babies in the tree line just north of me, or perhaps in the neighboring property somewhere. Once again, she’d given me the slip, and I could not help but wonder that if the mower had not interrupted us, she might have shown me where her babies were hidden.
I followed the trail of Daisy’s hoof prints back down the embankment and through the wooded area and stopped to take a few photos of the beautiful trumpet flowers in the clear water. I marveled at the cool air and tranquility of this place – an area, in the past, I had only looked into from the other side of the fence, declaring it was too dark and thick with vegetation to venture into. I am sure I had visions of snakes and insects to completely talk myself out of entering. But it was a beautiful place, and I completely understood why Daisy had come here. This area offered quiet and lots of thick cover for her fawns. It offered water, plants, and browse for Daisy to eat. And it was not really all that far from Daisy’s home, where she could spoil herself with a little feed, fruity kibble treats, and several plots of sweet clover.
© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…