Last night before bedtime, I made one last scan across the front yard and pasture with the flashlight, hoping to spot Emma and Ronnie deer, but there was no sign of them. I walked through the house to the back porch and shone my flashlight down in the canyon. All I found there was a lone raccoon at the feeder. I had seen both of the deer kids early in the morning, and I really had not thought much about them until late evening when they had not returned to bed down in one of their usual spots nearby. I suspected that they had ventured off and maybe tried to follow some wild deer, or perhaps that buck had returned for Emma. Obviously, I would have to wait until morning to investigate further.
When I took Bear and Mr. T out for bathroom duty first thing this morning, I spotted only one furry lump in my flashlight beam, bedded down near the garden. I suspected it was Ronnie. Poor Emma was probably being chased by that buck again. I got Bear’s medication and fed both dogs a snack, and then headed out to open the front gate. By then, the deer had gotten up and was doing a little self grooming. When I came back from the front gate I crossed the yard to see who it was for sure. I was surprised to find it was Emma. She seemed distracted, and she was trembling in her hind quarters. I did not see anything unusual but I hoped she was fine. It was a cold morning with temps just at freezing so maybe she was just cold. I really needed to get back in the house and get breakfast going. I would come out later and find her and perhaps we could go looking for Ronnie together.
After finishing up breakfast dishes, I put on my warmest clothes which happen to be my camouflage jacket and pants. Emma and Ronnie do not care for this outfit because it seems to confuse their vision. However, I had little choice, as I was not about to freeze while looking for Ronnie. When I stepped out into the daylight after donning my warm gear, I quickly noticed Emma had injuries. Her right, front leg had a cut on it and a small piece of meaty tissue hung out of the wound, and she was walking with a pronounced limp. She also had a couple of hoof marks at her neck and right side, indicating a wild doe from the local herd had likely tried to hoof at her and chase her away. I wondered if it had been Daisy deer? We had not seen Daisy in a long time, but we had noticed, via the game camera, that a few does had been visiting the feeder during the night. Slowly, Emma followed me to the canyon and we walked quietly together into the pecan orchard. I called for Ronnie by name, then made the “grunt” noise that a mother doe would call out to her missing fawn. Emma helped by keeping her nose to the ground, checking for Ronnie’s scent. We headed north towards the slough area, where Emma seemed to find scent. But after an hour of meandering around and finding nothing, Emma finally went to her knees and plopped down to rest. I noticed her leg was swelling more at the wound. Emma began to lick her wound while I proceeded on a short distance to the west, but soon Emma was limping along right behind me once again. At this point, I decided to head home where she could rest safely near food and water.
As we crossed the fence to the canyon area in the woodlands, Emma found some grass to nibble while I talked with my sister, Jules, on the phone. I often found solace and comfort in visiting with my brother or one of my sisters or my mom when my heart was heavy with worry over Emma and Ronnie, or Daisy. All of a sudden, Emma became quite alert. Her ears were at full attention and her eyes were glued to a specific spot far off to the north in the willow patch at the corner of the orchard. I looked off to the direction of her gaze and saw Ronnie! He was quite leery to proceed in our direction, I supposed, because I was wearing that camouflage outfit that confused him. I called out his name and used the “mama grunt” and finally he came running. He went right through the barbed wire fencing to get to Emma. It was apparent he missed his sister.
Back at the house, I had no more managed to make a cup of tea to warm myself, when I noticed Ronnie through the kitchen window, poking around in the neighbor’s back yard. This would be the neighbor with the three pit-mix dogs that constantly barked and growled. “What on earth was he doing over there?” I wondered. I rushed out with the camera knowing he would discover the dogs rather quickly… or maybe the dogs would discover him. Sure enough, I got one shot of Ronnie running back to the woods with his tail fanned out on high alert. For a brief moment, he panicked, not understanding how to cross the fence! But as the dogs’ barking increased, so did Ronnie’s desire to exit. I saw him bound down the hill but quickly realized he must have jumped the fence at some point, because the next thing I knew, he was panting next to Emma on top of the slope.
I stood there a while, chiding Ronnie for taking such a risk, but I also knew this was the life of a deer. They would continue to be curious and to find danger. Emma and Ronnie both, would have many months ahead of them, being hoofed at and run off by the local does. Being accepted by the wild ones would be a hard-won, uphill battle. But Emma would someday be a mother and become a force to be reckoned with in protecting her young. And, in time, Ronnie would find comfort and companionship with other bucks, but he would also realize they were his foes during the rutting season. I understood that ultimately, survival continues only for the strong and resilient who manage to survive the rigors of life in the wild.
As I soaked up the warm sun while sitting with Emma and Ronnie on the slope this morning, I thought of my own life. I had been curious, rebellious, and headstrong many times. My parents often warned me of danger and trouble, and still I threw caution to the wind. I did get hurt at times, and suffered wounds and injury, but mostly I escaped by the skin of my teeth, and I knew how lucky I had been. So I learned. I made better choices. And I survived. This was Emma and Ronnie’s chance to go through the knocks of life too. And I know they will make their way, just as we all do…
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…