After taking the previous week off to spend time with Emily and Sidney, a niece and nephew from Nebraska, FD and I had a lot of mowing to do yesterday. Just before Em & Sid arrived, the drive shaft on the brush hog mower broke, so mowing in the orchard came to a stop. The pasture on our immediate ten acres grew taller and thicker each day, and a series of rain storms kept me from mowing the yard. So while we were away with Em and Sid fishing Lake Texoma, on the southern border of Oklahoma and Texas, the grass and weeds took over.
While I sat on the mower for five hours yesterday, FD worked in the pecan orchard moving dirt and doing a bit of mowing. At the end of the day, we decided to grab a couple of beers and head to the orchard to look over the work FD had done, and to see if we might catch a glimpse of a pregnant doe we had seen on the game camera on the west end of the property. We had wondered if this doe might be Daisy deer, but we could never get a sharp enough photo of her on the game camera to discern Daisy’s distinctly notched left ear – an injury she suffered fighting off a bobcat that had taken her first buck fawn, little Rowdy. Several times I had seen a doe in that area of the orchard on my morning runs, but I could never get a good view of her before she disappeared in the thick vegetation. Regardless of what doe it was, it appeared she was making the area her nursery, as we had seen footage on the game camera of Ronnie and Emma deer being chased off by a doe. This is normal practice the month before a doe delivers her fawns. She chases off every deer and any mammal she finds threatening within her nursery area. We had observed Daisy deer do this every year for the last five years. When birthing draws near, even a doe’s own fawns from the previous year will be run off for about a month, until the new fawns are old enough to get around well.
The evening was hot and humid, and I often wondered how Emma and Ronnie managed in the heat, not to mention how they dealt with insects and parasites this time of year. As we drove the electric buggy to the west, we found Emma and Ronnie nibbling greens in the pecan orchard. They stayed behind in the shaded willow patch, just south of the slough that splits the orchard. Likely, they did not wish to follow us west where the sun would beat down upon them in the more open area of the pasture that lies between the orchard and the old river channel. Clouds were building to the south and east, and it was now evident that a line of storms was setting up. There were violent storms forecast for that area of the state and big, fluffy “thunderhead” clouds were stacking up high in the sky. As we headed toward the old river channel, we came across fluff of a different kind lying all over the ground in tufts. Here, cottonwood trees were shedding their seeds, leaving a snowy appearance to the landscape.
Frequently, our trips to the west end of the property include bringing along a clean SD card for the game camera we have set in that area. And, with fawn season now upon us, we wanted to see what animal activity had been taking place over the past week. We entered the woodland near the old river channel and drove slowly into the thick vegetation, griping about the mosquitoes as they began their relentless attack. Not even the herbal insect spray or essential oils I was using kept these biting insects at bay. As FD and I swatted and moved forth into the darkness of the deeper woods, we spotted something move across the path in front of us. FD stopped the buggy immediately. I thought it was a fox, but FD thought it might be a fawn. I grabbed my camera and we slowly walked the to the place where we had seen the animal move.
Sure enough, it was a fawn. Still wobbly on its legs, it could not have been more than a day or two old. At this age, the best defense a fawn has against a predator is to stay still. The fawn had moved just off the pathway and stood still in the cat brier and weeds. Eventually, it very slowly moved its head so that it could get a better look at us, but it did not blink and I could not even see it breathing. I was able to take several photos though, in the darkness of the thick woods, I was not sure they would turn out well. Fortunately, I had also brought my cell phone along and managed to get some video which turned out very well in the dark conditions. After getting a few photos and video, FD quietly walked to the game camera to switch out the SD card while I eased back to the buggy. We did not wish to stress the fawn by staying too long, and FD and I were both sure the mother would be nearby and possibly another sibling could be bedded down in the area, so we backed the buggy out of the thicker woods and decided to drive only on the visible pathways. With fawns on the ground now, there would be no more driving through or mowing tall weeds. For the next month, we would be more cautious about where we tread in any tall grasses in the orchard. Fawn season is upon us.
But even the delight of seeing this sweet breath of new life, of course, did not keep me from going home with a bit of a heavy heart. Yes, the old river channel was now a nursery to the gentle fawn, but is was also the area where we often saw coyotes. The game camera on the west end continued to show footage of coyotes roaming through every week or so, mostly at night. To me, this was probably not the best area to have a fawn, but a doe also monitors the activity in a prospective nursing area several weeks before she gives birth. So I have to trust nature and try not to think about the articles I have read about predation rates during fawn season. And I have to remember that, in nature, this is the cycle of life… and death. I hope this little fawn lives. And I hope that Daisy is doing well, wherever she is. She was always on schedule to deliver her twins each year at the end of May or very early June. I will be thinking of her a lot these next days and weeks. And you can bet I will be doing regular patrol on the west end, battling the mosquitoes in hopes of seeing my girl…
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…