Emma and Ronnie healed fairly quickly after they ran themselves into the deer pen fences nearly two weeks ago. Ronnie’s ripped nostril continued to dry, then crack and bled again for a few days. And finally by the weekend, new, pink skin formed and the wound healed over. Somehow, the broken antler nub welded back onto the skull and is firmly attached again. We will not know until next year when Ronnie gets his first set of hard antlers whether the pedicle was damaged or not. Both he and Emma suffered concussions, which left them dull-looking for a few days, and very slow and lethargic. Fortunately, by the end of the week, they were feeling much more spry. Unfortunately, Emma’s encounter with the fence left her with a knocked out tooth, another loose and quite crooked tooth, and a lot of swelling. At first we felt her jaw could be fractured, but as the week went on we felt confident that it looked more like swelling only.
The week after the fence incident had been difficult for me. I struggled with bitterness and anger at the children who had caused the situation. And I felt completely inept at helping to calm these two fawns who were now scared of a puff of breeze. It changed everything in our approach to everyday living. FD and I, and his mother and her husband, had always taken special care to respect the deer, not making sudden moves or causing any noise that would scare these reactive creatures that were always on alert. But after the fence incident, both deer were spooked by any movement, any noise. Aware of this, I found myself speaking in very soft tones, saying the same words over and over, words I knew they were familiar with, until I gained their trust again. FD had even more difficulty approaching them, since he was away at work most of the day. Each evening as he helped me with chores, was like starting all over again with them – as if he were a stranger.
If my worries over the deer weren’t enough, there was the recent appearance of a coyote in the pecan orchard. I had seen a coyote run through our bottom land just below the slope about a month ago. Then Friday morning of last week, as I made my way through the pecan orchard to gather eats for the deer, I spotted a coyote lazing in the shade of a pecan tree, looking in the direction of the gate I had just passed through (the gate from our home place ten-acres to the pecan orchard). This buggy path that I used was also an animal trail where I had found what I guessed was Daisy’s little buck Rooben’s hair nearly a month ago. Rooben was never seen again, and Daisy took off after that and has not returned since. This was the same pathway Daisy deer had used for years, and that cattle used, and where all sorts of small mammals traveled. The coyote had a perfect spot to see the comings and goings of any critter that it might call “lunch”. That evening FD and I went out with a rifle and we saw the coyote again but could not get a clear shot with cattle grazing nearby.
By Saturday, both Emma and Ronnie were looking better. In fact, they both felt frisky enough to do a few little jumps and partake in some gamboling after eating their morning feed, fruit, vegetables, and acorns. Throughout the day, I noticed them up and around more, grazing on elm branches and nibbling on cat brier. Things were feeling normal again. Mid-afternoon, FD and I set out to the orchard to meet our friend who grazes cattle on the land. While we were visiting, that same coyote showed up, making its way to the same shady spot I had seen it lurking in the day before. This time FD had a clear shot. There would be one less predator on the place, and maybe this would take my worry level down a notch when the time came to give Emma and Ronnie their freedom. Our friend was pleased as well. He mentioned that most of the time calves were in danger of falling prey to coyotes, but that a couple of years back coyotes had even mutilated one of his bulls by tearing away at the tail and testicles as the bull tried to get away.
Elated and feeling a bit victorious over the reduction to the coyote population, we traversed back home with our load of elm branches for Emma and Ronnie. But when we pulled up to the deer pen, one look at Emma told me something had happened while we were away. Ronnie was fine. He seemed anxious to have a snack of elm leaves. But Emma stood pitifully at the fence, head down, blood drooling from her chin. As I entered the pen, she hobbled around to come my way, and I could see she had a bad limp. Her eyes were dull and dazed. There were no superficial cuts or scrapes, but her jaw and nose were swollen, and dark blood mixed with saliva drooled down from her chin. She would not let us touch her mouth to examine it. With a quick look around the pen, FD found the area where she had hit the fence. But looking around, we saw nothing apparent that might have spooked her, and Ronnie was just fine. Were they playing and she just got a little too spirited? The answer was hard to discern.
I have stepped up the foraging and gathering in the woods, hoping that good nutrition will help in the healing process. I keep searching for cat brier, acorns, and various weeds and plants that I know deer like. I cut fresh Siberian Elm each morning. I have purchased organic apples and pears from the store, and dug up the last of the carrots and white sweet potato from our own garden. As I write this, Emma and Ronnie are both eating well. Ronnie’s nose has healed nicely, though we will always recognize him by his funky little nose/nostril flap. Emma’s mouth is still healing. She does not close the jaw all of the way, but it is difficult to know if it is because of the crooked tooth, which is still loose and discolored, from swelling, or possibly due to a fracture. Emma is slow at nipping tree leaves and brier, but she still manages to eat fairly well. She is, however, still very sore and has a bad limp. Ronnie, on the other hand, is back to being a frisky buck – jumping, gamboling, and tossing his head (doing the “crazy head”). But he also seems to understand Emma is not up to snuff. Many times, I see Emma in the shade along the fence resting, and Ronnie comes up to mutual groom her. Then he folds his legs and lays down beside her, keeping watch while she shuts her eyes.
So, needless to say, with my Emma struggling to recover from her injuries, one can find me, on many afternoons, laying on an old pink blanket near her and Ronnie. I choose a spot just a couple of feet from them, keeping just a bit of space between us, as deer do (they rarely lay right next to each other). Sometimes, I keep watch, but most of the time I speak softly, touching each of them gently and thanking Universe/God for healing each body part as I brush my hand over it. And sometimes, I just close my eyes… and I rest a while with my precious babies.
© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…