Shadowing Your Mom At Work

Almost every morning when looking out the kitchen window while finishing up the last of the breakfast dishes, I can find Emma and Ronnie deer, grazing in the yard. Of course, this time of year there are numerous weeds growing, and my herb and lettuce bed is sprouting all sorts of greens that deer like to nibble on. Emma especially, likes to help herself to these tasty salad fixings, while Ronnie is more fond of the clover and tree or shrub browse. Everything in the yard gets a good trim with these two.

My morning view from the kitchen window.
My morning view from the kitchen window.
Ronnie loves nibbling clover.
Ronnie loves nibbling clover.
Emma has discovered my spring spinach patch.
Emma has discovered my spring spinach patch.
Tree browse is an important staple in a deer's winter diet.
Tree browse is an important staple in a deer’s winter diet.
My rose bushes are getting a good trim! Those new leaf shoots must be tasty!
My rose bushes are getting a good trim! Those new leaf shoots must be tasty!

By 9:00 in the morning, I usually have my indoor tasks complete and then move on to begin my day’s work outdoors. If Emma and Ronnie are roaming about, I can count on them tagging along. When I do not see them around, it is usually within the hour that they find me, either by sight or scent, and arrive to shadow me, regardless of the work I have to do.

I remember the first time I built a good-sized burn pile and hesitated about lighting the fire because the kids were nearby. Not wanting to alarm or spook them, I headed back out to the orchard with the buggy to attempt to lead them away and distract them further into the woods. With my mission accomplished, I raced back to the burn pile in the buggy and lit the fire, only to find the kids had followed me again and, oddly to me, were unafraid of the leaping flames! Emma was most curious, but she did stay away from the heat. Ronnie was very cautious and held his ears back anytime he followed Emma near the fire pit.

Emma and Ronnie inch closer to the burn pile area (Ronnie is near the buggy and Emma is at the wood pile down below).
Emma and Ronnie inch closer to the burn pile area (Ronnie is near the buggy and Emma is at the wood pile down below).
Emma leads the way up the hill, with a more cautious Ronnie following.
Emma leads the way up the hill, with a more cautious Ronnie following.
Ronnie checks out the pitch fork.
Ronnie inspects the pitch fork.
Emma and Ronnie rest in the shade looking out towards the burn pile where I continue to work.
Emma and Ronnie rest in the shade looking out towards the burn pile where I continue to work.

As the weather has warmed and my spring chores have increased, I have found that some tasks are quite easy with deer in tow, while others are a complete nightmare with “help” that I have not asked for. Emma is usually the snoopy character that has to check out every job I work at. But I learned years ago that one must be cautious working around deer. When Daisy was young and hanging about like Emma and Ronnie, she hoofed me in the back a few times and even clonked me on the head as I crawled on my hands and knees while digging with a hand spade, or while squatted or bent over clipping a shrub. I was also kicked a few times when Daisy suddenly decided to get frisky. The most pain I ever endured, was from a couple of instances where I allowed Daisy to snoop with her nose to the ground right where I was working, only to have her jerk her head up and hit me in the eye socket. Talk about bone-shattering pain! Nowadays, if I have too much help close to me I simply move to another area and begin another task. Creating diversions works pretty well.

I like to clean the old bathtub every two weeks and fill with fresh water. Ronnie and Emma did not care to help with this project!
I like to clean the old bathtub every two weeks and fill with fresh water. Ronnie and Emma did not care to help with this project!
Resting near the wildlife bathtub is a prime location to watch mama work, and keep on the lookout for woodland activity.
Resting near the wildlife bathtub is a prime location to watch mama work, and keep on the lookout for woodland activity.
Ronnie is better at taking breaks and resting than Emma is.
Ronnie is better at taking breaks and resting than Emma is.
Ronnie is most excellent at self-grooming.
Ronnie is most excellent at self-grooming.
Most days this spring I can be found in the orchard gathering downed limbs and branches, and also cutting firewood.
Most days this spring I can be found in the orchard, gathering downed limbs and branches, and cutting firewood.
Emma and Ronnie are good to take advantage of nap time while they watch me work.
Emma and Ronnie are good to take advantage of nap time while they watch me work.
Draining water from the pool cover is mighty fascinating.
Draining water from the pool cover is mighty fascinating.
This is the kind of help I do not need.
This is the kind of help I do not need.
Emma has to investigate all tools. Licking and nibbling everything is of utmost importance.
Emma has to investigate all tools. Licking and nibbling everything is of utmost importance.
Emma getting sidetracked by possible edibles I may have discarded for the chickens... and yes, she found a few snacks!
Emma getting sidetracked by possible edibles I may have discarded for the chickens… and yes, she found a few snacks!

There are also times of wonderment and rest. Over my many years of doing outdoor work, I rarely took breaks just to relax. Generally, a two-minute water break while I checked my cell phone, or to change out reciprocating saw batteries and blades, or tighten up tension on the chainsaw blade and check the oil level, was as much time as I took for breaks. But these days, I am more prone to observe Emma and Ronnie as they indulge in a reprieve from helping the mamma, often performing mutual grooming while they rest and chew their cud, or observing what greens they might be feasting on. My favorite times come from watching them run amok in the orchard, building skill and stamina while showing off a bit. I know these days of shadowing me as I work will not last very long. The heat of summer will arrive in the next couple of months, and Emma and Ronnie will lay low in breezy, shady places. My fires will no longer be so interesting. The roar of the mower running and the chug of the tractor will not appeal to them at all. And the lure of the river and lands beyond will call to them, especially Ronnie. And perhaps, if they are fortunate, they will be included in the local deer herd one day, and find a place with their own kind.

For now though, this deer mother is enjoying her outdoor work with a couple of “endeering” helpers!

© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

 


32 thoughts on “Shadowing Your Mom At Work

  1. They really are beautiful animals and seem to be slowly getting used to the great outdoors. I was thinking about that fire and maybe because they are not enclosed and have already plotted their escape routes they can investigate – they must be feeling very confident. Do you actually have a vege garden or is that a waste of time -just a deer garden maybe. c

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    1. I think in part they do know the woodlands very well and probably are feeling quite confident. I notice every day those two jump the fence to the neighbor’s yard (the one with three big pit-mix dogs) and they are cautious, but keep pushing closer to where the dogs are. The other thing is, if I am there working on something, I wonder if they feel it is safe? I have no idea how their minds work, but I’ve been told that most livestock are curious the same way, and eventually instinct sends them running. I probably worry too much.
      I do have a big garden across the yard that is fenced to keep the deer out. Last year when Emma was very small I took her in there with me while I gardened. She was so tiny that she hid easily in the turnips and carrots! The herb and lettuce patch is just outside the kitchen window (easy to access while cooking) and I’ve never bothered to fence it. I don’t mind sharing… and usually the deer only want a few mouthfuls and they’re off to something else. I do plant some vegetables where the deer can access them. They love cucumbers, yellow squash, and ground cherries. And of course they love blackberries, raspberries and all of the spoils from the fruit trees.

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  2. There’s a song that has a line that says, “just me and my shadow” and I thought about the song as I read about Ronnie and Emma following you as you did your work. They remind me of a combination of a raccoon and a puppy- into every thing and resting at intervals. I bet that spinach was really good. I was going to plant some but just could not make it happen. I envy your yard with all the open spaces and places to plant for the birds and butterflies.

    As usual the pics and the videos are superb.

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    1. I brought a lot of beautiful plants from the old house in town when we moved here, but most of those fancy perennials did not make it in the soil here. My friend Regina (who was a neighbor in town, and also a farm woman) shared plants and seeds with me that she knew would do well here. Nine years later, I have many plants that have stood the test of time and are wildlife and insect friendly. We do not spray chemical here anymore either and have seen a grand return of bees and butterflies. So many plants I battled as weeds in the past, I see the importance of today. Daisy always helped herself to the lettuce and greens, and I planted a few vegetables that I knew she liked around the yard just for her. Emma and Ronnie will likely feast on the same. Of course I still have a big fenced garden to keep the deer out of.
      I really do not mind Emma and Ronnie following. One just has to be mindful that they are wild animals and unpredictable.Daisy taught me a lot about being careful! Ha ha!

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      1. In my comment I forgot to address that you had been accidently butted on the face/head by Daisy. One summer I was keeping my daughter’s big dog. One day I was bent over picking some flowers and he came charging along and ran under my head and I received a blow from his big head that almost caused me to faint. My right eye was black and blue and it looked like somebody had punched me. One patient asked me what caused my bruised eye and I told him that I had been hit by a dog. He said “yea, really!” I think he figured I had been hit by my husband. 🙂

        You sure had a good neighbor who gave you plants. I wish I had more natives in my yard but there are so many trees and open planting spaces are sort of scarce. But I have some that attracts the birds, bees and, butterflies.

        I don’t use any chemicals either. A yard and garden will do quite well if the soil has been amended and it has plenty of compost and manure. Those things are not hard to come by. I just wish that folks would learn that there is a better and easier way to have a nice yard.

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        1. I believe any blow to the face is painful. I will forever remember the pain of the eye socket punch… like you said, I felt like I was going to faint or hurl it hurt so bad.
          You and I are so much alike in our thinking, Yvonne. I love that I grew up learning to be mindful of nature and Mother Earth, and that I was open enough to change some of the habits I learned over the years that were definitely more about convenience than helping anything. It truly took raising Daisy to understand how the most minute decisions we make, can have a domino affect on nature and wildlife.
          I dread the spring chemical activity here so close to town. Those spray rigs plastering yards (and the air) with pre-emergent, herbicides, and that horrid green dye – it’s all so toxic. 😦

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          1. Yes, Lori we do think alike is just about everything. I too dread seeing people using herbicides to control weeds. The best weed control is to top dress the lawn grass with decomposed manure and a really good compost applied in the dormant season. If the grass is cut before weeds have a chance to bloom and go to seed then the weed cycle is already partially broken. When the grass is healthy it overtakes whatever weeds are growing in the lawn grass. I know this from experience. Just think of all the run off from weed killers, that ends up in the lakes and rivers. Pitiful to say the least. Herbicides also will kill wildlife and it destroys the beneficial insects. I wish that people would wake up to the fact that we are rapidly destroying the planet.

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    1. Yes, Lynda, that was taken in the orchard. I have only managed to completely clean debris from six trees closest to our ten-acre property. There are 142 trees total. I wonder how long it will take me to complete this project? 😀

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      1. Lori, I couldn’t hazard a guess. However I believe it will be like painting the Golden Gate bridge… start on one end and work you way to the other, then start at the beginning and do it all over again. 😉

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        1. FD enrolled in more pecan classes, and last week he discovered a limb rake that can be pulled behind a tractor. Now something like that could be very beneficial! I’m sure to be writing about our progress in future posts!

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  3. I love reading your blog. And I always get a bit sad knowing that one day Emma and Ronnie will leave, just as our children do. Geez, rainy here. Must be feeling a bit gray like the weather. Sorry. Looking forward to more about your deer shadows.

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    1. Oh thank you! I certainly enjoy writing about the kids, and it’s fun to have video to add to the still shots. It’s been drizzling here all day. It’s cold and blustery. I think tomorrow the weather turns around as we’re expecting sun and temps in the 80’s. That’s more my style!! 😀

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    1. I don’t know, Henrie… those cats can be little monsters. I shall never forget my sister Lisa’s cat, Princess. She was no princess but rather a witch!! She attacked me every chance she got and it was all claws I tell you!!

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    1. We have been enjoying an early spring. Blossom’s are busting out all over and some of the trees are leafing out. I love this time of year. I’ll be thinking about putting in a bit of garden before long!

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  4. I chuckled at your unwanted helpers, as my cat Sam has been my unwanted helper as I try to pack up my house for the move. He’s got to get inside every box, chew on everything I try to wrap, and just generally be in my way all the time.

    You know I just had to figure out which hawks were calling in this video. I listened to calls of the species most likely to be in your area right now, and my guess is Red-shouldered Hawks. 🙂

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    1. I wondered if you might know what hawk that call belongs to. I haven’t a clue and I don’t know my hawks well enough yet to identify them. This flight of circling and calling goes on every year about this time. The barred owls are doing a lot of calling right now also.

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  5. I find here, for myself, many “times of wonderment and rest”– the second part being thoughtful reflection on the parts of your stories that connect with my own experiences. The wonderment comes from the beauty in those family members and your commitment to preserving all such beauty, both in the woodlands and in words and pictures. I loved reading this today.

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    1. Thank you, Albert. I know that one day these will be some of the most beautiful memories I will have to reflect on. And I do look back on my writings and I can remember how so many aspects of my relationship with nature has touched the depths of my soul. It has changed me.

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    1. That is my worry, Mandeep. I worry a little about Emma getting too close to the fire. And she has no fear of the nearby traffic. She jumped the alley fence the other day when I was working on the alley side. It made me panic but I got her to jump back over where it was safe. I’ll be totally gray-headed by the time these two are more savvy about their surroundings and the dangers posed.

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  6. Hi Lori, I have enjoyed reading your recent posts about the antics of the deers. Ronnie’s athleticism is remarkable to see. I am guessing that as spring progresses there will be lots of distractions to draw them away from their familiar territory.

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    1. There have been some more developments which I really need to make time to blog about. Emma is very curious – much more so than Daisy ever was. Ronnie is very cautious – and yes, he is quite athletic. I hope with my work in the orchard that they will follow me out there and venture more towards the river area. They have been meeting other deer, as they are being hoofed off a good bit. Poor things have lots of clobber marks and missing hair. 😦

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