A series of late-summer rainstorms brought more than four inches of moisture to our area of Oklahoma last weekend. We surely needed a reprieve from the heat, but now the humidity was sweltering. As FD and I drove the buggy around the property on Sunday morning to check on storm damage to the pecan trees, I was thankful I had managed to complete most of the cocklebur picking along both sides of the slough the week before. Now, the slough was full of water again, making it impossible to get to the east side of the orchard. And of course, with the storms that moved through, more limbs and branches lay askew throughout the orchard. Every time a puff of wind gets up, it seems, more debris falls from the trees. As wet as everything was, I would surely not be doing any serious wood burning for a while either. So, I took this as a sign that it was time to get back to other tasks that I had let slide over the past week.
As we rambled slowly through the orchard and back towards the house, we found Emma, Ronnie and Spike nibbling on leaves from a fallen pecan limb. Many tree limbs in the orchard are now heavily laden with growing pecans, and when the weight becomes too great for the limb to support, it does not take much wind or rain to add to the burden and the limb completely breaks from the tree. To prevent this from happening and improve nut size and kernel fullness, most growers mechanically shake the trunks on pecan trees to thin the crop size and prevent stress – much like one would thin the fruit of a peach or apricot tree. However, since we have not been able to find anyone to help manage the orchard, we knew limb loss was inevitable. But it was good to see that the three yearling deer were enjoying the spoils, and FD and I parked the buggy in the shade of the nearest pecan tree to relax and observe them for a few moments.
After munching pecan leaves, Ronnie and Spike took off to a nearby puddle of water created by area runoff. Emma followed slowly and found a nice, grassy spot nearby in which to lie down, while Spike kept bugging Ronnie with gentle sparring. I had noted them doing this a lot lately, knowing it was part of skill-building and practice for the rut. Eventually, Ronnie grew tired of going the rounds with Spike and joined Emma in resting nearby. But Spike was having none of that. He still wanted to spar. He even tried sparring with Ronnie while Ronnie was resting, finally rousting Ronnie up, and the sparring resumed. Soon, Emma got up too, because the boys often danced too close to her spot in the grass. From this point, it was not long before things got serious.
Even after the hoofing match, Spike still needs to work off his aggression. Emma has a little frolic in the end too!
After watching the interaction and body language, I think Spike must be the dominant one of the group. Emma is still the boss of Ronnie. As a human, I would have thought Ronnie, with his most impressive set of antlers, would have been the dominating force of the three. Many times I have seen him whack Spike with his hooves or hoof Emma on her back, but these appear to be opportunistic pot shots. I saw similar action with Daisy deer so many years ago. A lone yearling trying to get in with the local herd, coming back hoofed up and beaten. They did not want her. But I also watched her try again and again, and finally she was accepted by mean, old Scarlet, a big doe who was queen in our woodlands. Many times, I had seen Scarlet take possession of the feeding area, hoofing every deer off – even the bucks. She was a force to be dealt with. That summer, yearling Daisy babysat for Scarlet’s fawns. For a long time she took the last position walking in the little herd. But, no more than a year later, I watched Daisy become the toughest doe around. She hoofed Scarlet and won. Daisy found her courage. It is my hope that Ronnie finds his confidence one day too.
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…