Surprisingly, I slept soundly the night after we released Emma and Ronnie deer. I suppose my body was fatigued after spending so much of the previous day on foot, while leading – or, I should say, mostly following – our two little charges around to show them the woodlands. I am quite sure my emotions, leading up to and including release day, had sapped a lot of my energy as well. I was not sad, but rather elated to see Emma and Ronnie finally running free. But then, toward evening, a bit of worry set in. I know, imagine that – Yours Truly, worry?
On our walk with Emma and Ronnie to the west end of the pecan orchard property that first day, we had located another sawed-off leg bone of a deer and still another leg bone with a hoof attached, which caused my old foe “worry” to set in. Even though I knew we had done all that we could to prepare the deer kids for this time of freedom, I still let fear of the coyotes get to me. FD and I had not had much respite that whole day, except in the evening when we sat by the fire pit, while hoping Emma and Ronnie would bed down in the area nearby – which they did. I also found comfort later that night, when I took the dogs out for their last business of the day and found the kids bedded down near their old deer pen. At least they were a little more protected here near our house.
Shortly after breakfast the next morning, we found Emma and Ronnie eating at the deer feeder below the slope, and I quickly wrapped up dishes and slipped outside to spend the morning with them. Up top of the slope, Emma ate the new spinach from my herb bed, while Ronnie nibbled on our ornamental redbud trees. On the south side of the house, they checked out the blackberry canes and nosed around in their old pen. After a while, I took them all along the upper ridge of our property to a craggy area where common ivy draped from up high in the trees. To me, this was a bit of a magical spot overlooking the entire woodland bottom, and one where Daisy often loved to rest. Here, Emma took a lot of time sniffing around, while Ronnie was more interested in peeing along the trail and rubbing his little antlers against slender trees and fallen wood. His mannerisms at this young age were every bit the same as what we had observed in mature bucks. Finally, I took Emma and Ronnie down the steep embankment to the bottom. This was the type of terrain where I wished I had those little hooves myself! Big feet in boots made for a slippery and treacherous descent, but I managed by hanging onto trees and roots along the way.
After descending the slippery slope, we wandered along through the bottom land below. In the damp and fertile soil of the canyon floor, Emma and Ronnie found all sorts of greens to graze on. I was thankful for an early spring, as the more warm days we had, the more plants and browse would come alive, giving the kids plenty to feast on. Another sign of the coming spring I had noticed lately, was the squirrels spending most days high up in the trees, nibbling on the plentiful, emerging leaf buds. As soon as the leaves began to present themselves, every living creature would be nibbling the tender shoots, which are rich with nutrient. Had it not been for observing orphaned squirrels Punkin and Mr. Gambini’s eating habits their first spring, or Daisy deer’s after her release, I would never have realized just how important fresh, new leaf shoots are to wildlife diet.
At some point in our hike through the canyon bottom, Emma simply folded her front legs to a kneeling position and, with her rear end up, folded her rear legs under her and dropped down. She was tired. Ronnie nibbled on a few dead leaves before following suit just a short distance from Emma. Ronnie chose a patch of Liriope or Lily Turf plant to bed down in, while Emma was more camouflaged on a carpet of woodland leaves. This too, was an area in which I often found Daisy and her first fawn Spirit bedded down. While the deer kids rested, I scanned my video camera across the woodland bottom and recorded the calls of nearby barred owls, cardinals, and chickadees. As I panned my camera, I noticed the patch of wild grape vine where a bobcat took Daisy’s first buck. As many times as I passed by that area of tangled vine, I could not forget Daisy’s mooing and mourning at the last resting spot where Rowdy’s scent had remained until heavy rains washed it away. I continued to scan the area with my camera until I had come full-circle, back to Emma and Ronnie resting quietly in the woodlands.
Not wanting to leave the kids yet, I sat nearby in my own spot on the carpet of leaves and leaned up against a tree. I watched Emma and Ronnie chew their cud and groom themselves. For nearly thirty minutes we sat as a little family, resting quietly. Rumination for them was to chew their cud. But for me, it was reminiscing about similar days with a young Daisy deer. Remembering those times, and with Emma and Ronnie content to hang around close, I wondered how much work I would actually get done in the days and weeks to come. I thought of all of the plans I had made for my gardens, and cleanup in the orchard, and my usual summer work. But somehow, my inner spirit already knew that rest, rumination, and roaming the woodlands with Emma and Ronnie would be my true passion…
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…