If I could have changed one thing about yesterday, it would have been the weather. It was cold and blustery. The wind howled out of the south with gusts to more than 30 mph. You would think a south wind, and temperatures around 50F would make for a lovely day, but the wind made it miserable. To boot, my favorite, warm work coat – the faded red, vintage sportsman’s duck hunting jacket that I stole from FD years ago, finally became so thread-bare that I could no longer patch it. Stuffing poured out of the left shoulder and the sleeves were horribly frayed. All of the pocket linings were completely gone. And recently, when the metal zipper broke in two, I realized it had to go. I dreaded heading out to the cold with the replacement jacket FD had given me – some fancy wind resistant coat with lots of pockets and zipper pulls that he had acquired from his employer some years ago. However, Emma deer loved the blue jacket because of its fancy zipper pulls and cinching toggles that she could pull on with her teeth. I did like that it was not heavy, but it also was not nearly as warm as my old red coat. So, knowing I would have a long day outdoors continuing my role as a deer mother, I donned a fleece jacket under my new blue one, and added my ear flap cap, a scarf, and my warmest gloves before setting out for the deer pen. The day to release Emma and Ronnie to the wild had finally arrived, and FD and I would spend the next several hours walking them around the property to help them become familiar with the lay of the land. We would be showing them the feeders and water tub, and I would do what any mother deer would do to prepare her young for independence.
I took a little corn in a bucket to feed the kids breakfast in their pen for the last time. After all, what mother sends her children off without a little breakfast? While I fed the deer, FD got busy tying back the mesh material on each gate in preparation for opening them all so that, if Emma and Ronnie returned to their pen after they were released, they could come and go as they pleased. And if they needed to escape quickly from the pen, there were four gates they could exit from each direction. After crunching only a few kernels of corn, I realized they were more intrigued with FD’s activity around the perimeter fence of their pen. Along with the gusty conditions, they were completely distracted from their corn. It would be interesting to see how they managed on their first day out in such chaotic wind. I had been out with Daisy deer in the woodlands on windy days a few times. On those days, I generally found her to settle in an open area, resting in the tall grasses. Falling limbs, creaking and clacking branches, debris falling from above, and all sorts of spooky and unexpected noises put Daisy on edge. Lying low, chewing her cud, and keeping away from trees seemed to keep her calm until the wind subsided.
It did not take FD long to tie back the mesh and prepare the gates for opening. Seeing the kids were a little apprehensive when FD opened the first one, I emerged from the gate first. Emma bolted through right behind me, but Ronnie seemed unsure, and finally FD coaxed him out. Slowly, they moseyed about the front yard, with Emma taking the lead. She investigated everything, with her nose to the ground. Ronnie proceeded much more cautiously, and it was obvious the wind had him very spooked. For the next eight hours, we walked around the house and out into the pasture with Emma and Ronnie. We followed the buggy paths and ventured into the woods. And though I worried about coyotes, FD decided we should walk to the west end of the pecan orchard, as he wanted to check on the game cameras we have down there. Both kids stayed close to us, and the only real scare of the trip was when Ronnie became aware of vehicles driving along a well-traveled road along the northern border of the pecan orchard. Ronnie was on high alert as he watched those moving objects go one way, and then the other. At one point he threw his flared, white tail straight up in the air and ran like hell all the way back to the gate below our house. But then, realizing he was being left behind, he threw his tail up again and ran, leaped, and bounded back to his sister and his people. It was obvious the vehicles had him quite perturbed, and he simply could not make sense of them. But Emma was calm. She forged ahead of us many times, smelling, licking and nibbling everything along the way. On the way back from the west end of the orchard property, Ronnie again panicked when he saw the distant traffic. This time he put on a real show, frantic as it was. Running toward home, and then back to us, he performed magnificently high and long leaps along the buggy path, sailing through the air with ease. It was as if he was trying to tell Emma, FD, and me, to hurry up home before those moving things could get us. He really did seem panicked! Finally back at the canyon below our house, Ronnie panted and frothed at the mouth. I figured he had to be completely worn out. I knew I sure was!
Towards evening, I sat with Emma and Ronnie down in the bowl area of the canyon, hoping they would settle down for the evening. After a time, FD lit a lovely little fire in the fire pit and brought down a couple of beers. Soon Emma settled down in the clover patch to chew her cud, but Ronnie was not too fond of the fire and would not join her. Finally, he coerced Emma to climb up the nearby knoll to rest with him. This was a place Daisy bedded down many times, and a place she often hid her fawns when they were very little. An hour or so after it grew dark, FD and I put out the fire, said goodnight to Emma and Ronnie who were still atop the knoll, and headed up to the house to shower and have a late dinner.
It had been an exhausting, but wonderful day, and we decided to turn in early. So, at only 8:30, I took our Japanese Chin, Bear and Mr. T, outdoors to do their bathroom business for the last time. I always check for coyotes and varmints with my flashlight while I stand guard over the boys as they do their business. What I discovered in the yard near the deer pen was not coyotes, but two little forms bedded down not too far apart. One facing north and the other facing south, Emma and Ronnie were looking out for each other while they rested, just as deer in the wild do. And what better spot to choose than an area close to the pen that had been their home and kept them safe for the first eight months of their lives.
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…