Who’s The Boss

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 much nibbling of pecan leaves, Spike tries to roust up Emma and Ronnie to play chase. Emma’s body language seems to say she is in no mood for these antics.

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.

Spike always initiates the sparring. Ronnie avoids and then finally complies.

The stare down but no hoofing action here.

Emma often looked at us during the dual. I wondered what she was thinking.
Ronnie tries to rest.
But Spike wanted to spar.
Finally, Ronnie gave in.
So back they were to sparring.
Emma walked up and tried to give Spike “the look”, ears back with her long neck snaked forward, but it did not bother Spike one little bit.
And Emma backed off.
Emma submits to Spike while Ronnie looks on.
Ronnie decides he has had enough of Spike.
Another duel.
Emma’s ears are back. She wants no part of this!
For a moment the bucks stop. I wonder why they are watching Emma. Could this dual be about her?
Back to the business of sparring.

Suddenly, Ronnie rises up!
And gives Spike an unexpected pot shot to the face!

It is over. Head down, Ronnie follows Emma.

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.

So far, it seems that Spike is the boss around here…

 

© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


33 thoughts on “Who’s The Boss

  1. I’m sorry y’all lost limbs! I’ve lost my peaches two years in a row now (first to hail, then again to wind) and it’s never fun. Hopefully y’all’ll find someone to help out soon and it won’t be as much of a problem anymore.

    Your deer are absolutely wonderful to watch= even through pictures!

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    1. We generally lose our fruit to late frosts and sometimes hail. It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? I’m not too upset by the loss of limbs. These trees are giants. I am not sure if we will ever find a harvester or anyone to maintain the orchard as there is no one close to our orchard. I really need to do a post to explain what we’ve learned about the possibilities for the orchard and what it will require. We are learning so much by taking part in classes offered by The Noble Foundation and OSU Pecan Management courses.

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      1. It really is disappointing every time :/ Glad to know that damage isn’t as bad as it seemed, though. And I’d definitely be interested in a post about what you’re learning from the classes!

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. FD and I had a great time watching the kids. FD got the video and I took stills. Its always interesting how the stills show the little details that are not noticed with so much action going on. I have seen the hoofing action quite a bit lately. It’s exhilarating to observe! Ronnie is getting there. For now he gets a hit in when he finds opportunity!

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  2. It would be wonderful to learn more about your pecan orchard and the plans for it. It looks like a lovely place. You’ve certainly done a lot of work of it, that’s for sure! So fabulous to see the pics of the deer! xo

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    1. The purchase of the orchard has always been about providing a sanctuary for wildlife. Cleanup has been about making it possible to harvest pecans, but if that never transpires, I know wildlife will benefit from it and we will continue to enjoy its beauty. I certainly love that Emma, Ronnie, Spike and other deer roam the area safely.

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  3. So rambunctious! It’s like spring is in the air, but I guess fall is spring for deer, what with the rutting time and all that. It’s interesting to see the power dynamics among the males. We have mostly does and fawns around our pond, so we don’t get to see this kind of action. But we sure do have some crazy silly fawns right now. They act like they’ve eaten a box of candy and drunk a six-pack of soda pops!

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    1. Ha ha ha! That is SO the way of fawns! They are hilarious to watch! I remember the first year with Daisy – how she seemed exasperated as her twins ran everywhere kicking up legs and throwing their heads around not paying attention to where they were going or being alert to danger. But by year two of raising fawns, she had that knowing look that they would run like silly idiots and there was no controlling them! In a way it’s not so different with these bucks (and does being chased) during the rut. Being alert of danger is secondary to the chase. Once those hormones start raging, it’s no longer gentle sparring and a show of dominance.It is all about mating.

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    1. I’m so late getting to comments… too many irons in the fire! I think it’s safe to say whether the comments show up on your end or not, they ARE getting here. There may be some kind of delay for some reason… and we have had some trouble with our internet service to boot. We had a technician out recently so hopefully that problem is fixed!

      I’m happy you like the photos. There is always entertainment to photograph and video around here! 🙂

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  4. My gosh, I get tired just reading about how much work you have to do to maintain your property. I sure hope you eventually get to make some money from those pecan trees.

    Love love love the extensive photo documentation of the interactions between Ronnie, Emma, and Spike. I wonder if I’m the only one that kept imagining that scene in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer where the young reindeer are sparring with each other just like this. And the females watched, probably thinking, “Boys will be boys.” I know I’m anthropomorphizing, but I can’t help it. Thanks again for sharing their world — and yours — with all of us, Lori. 🙂

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    1. I think it is easy for folks to anthropomorphize since we try to understand behaviors. I do the same thing when I observe these three deer. I wonder especially about Emma. What does she think about the boys sparring and hoofing?

      We didn’t buy the orchard to make money, but it sure would be icing on the cake if we could recoup some of the expenses! It looks to be a fair production year, but we cannot find harvesters willing to come this distance to harvest the crop. I am not even sure we could have it ready for that. I no more than got limbs and branches cleaned up on the largest area (west of the slough), and along came a couple of storms that brought down all sorts of new debris, not to mention several already sagging limbs loaded with pecans, broke off from trying to support too much weight. There is a lot of work to working an orchard. We must find help to maintain and harvest. I probably need to win the lottery for us to manage it ourselves! 😀

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  5. Must be hard to get any work done around your place Lori with such an entertaining deer family to distract you! Great photos. I agree with your comment stills vs video. Sometimes, I like the stills because there is no distracting noise.
    I need to get to work around our place too although my husband is working hard. We have been blessed with good winter rains so our new 22,000L tank collecting run-off from our shed is full and both our dams. Due to several years of drought, we want to make sure we can support some animals on our small acreage. Talking about limbs, we have to be careful during windy periods. We have some magnificent towering gum trees that like to drop their limbs occasionally! At least, they make good firewood!

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    1. Wow, you have a lot going on! I’m glad for your rain. We had ample rain here all spring and summer too, which helped me not have to water with hoses so much all summer.

      We have seen huge limbs just drop – no wind or rain! It makes me look up a lot to see what I’m working under. I really wish we could get an expert in the orchard to do some trimming.

      Yes, we get distracted a lot! If it isn’t the deer it is some other animal or bird that gets my attention. I haven’t had luck photographing an owl I often see while I’m working. He’s quite the character too!

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      1. Still raining here. Our two dams are almost overflowing. The kangaroos are growing in number. There seems to be a new male on the block. Saw 14 from our bedroom window this morning. I have tried to get photos of them but even from a distance they are very nervous and alert. In between my studies, I have managed to read some of your posts in the other categories. Good reading there. My Creativity & Innovation posts are part of my reflective blog for on-line university degree I’m doing. Blogging has been a great way to get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis just like the old newspaper days! Thanks for your posts which I look forward to.

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        1. I just subscribed to your blog… I am so far behind answering comments on my own blog, so who knows when I will get to read other’s blogs! Ha ha! I’d best not wonder about that too much, next thing I’ll be down with some injury and forced to take time off!

          You are correct about blogging being a great way to get into the habit of writing again. I can see improvement in my writing since I started back in 2011. It just flows now and I love finding time to write about and photograph life here.

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          1. I am so thrilled to have you follow my blog. I feel like we are kindred spirits across the seas. Writing was what I did for many years as a paid job, but one needs to write on a regular basis to avoid sliding into sloppiness and laziness. What I find interesting about this blogging business, the diversity of people attracted to reading my blogs. If you don’t have time to respond to my comments that’s OK, don’t feel bad. Thanks for your encouragement it is much appreciated!

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          2. I think it does all of us good to find encouragement with others. Often, as you say, the diversity of readers is surprising and a source of encouragement in itself. I can’t always find time to comment since it often takes time for me to formulate my thoughts, but I can at least click “Like”. Most of the time I just keep the blog notifications in my reader until I can devote time to relaxing and enjoying them. So, I could be really late in getting to that! I enjoy having more time to read and write in the winter months here. 🙂

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  6. Outstanding photo work here. Never seen anything like these deer antics!

    Oh I forgot, football’s starting up. Then there’s politics lately. And the on-going drug and gang shoot-outs. But fortunately these are only human traits. Like Whitman, I often think about going to live with the animals.

    (Not really. I just love to see their mysterious beauty. Thank you for that opportunity!)

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    1. In some of my older posts I often voice the desire to be out there with the wild things. I wrote about an October night I spent sleeping under the stars,guarding Emma and Ronnie (https://littlesundog.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/keeping-watch-under-the-stars/), where I felt at one with nature and all things wild. It was a very amazing night for me.

      There is a lot going on in our world, and though I can take in small increments of the news (not sure I believe much of any of it anymore) and I try to stay informed, I tend to ignore a lot of it. There are too many people perpetrating hate and pain, in what has become a cruelty culture over many decades. I find comfort in nature and the simple things. I think that is where Whitman found tranquility. I hope we can all find peace in nature’s “mysterious beauty”, as you say.

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      1. Thanks for pointing me back to the watch under the stars. I can only imagine! (Though your writing makes it easy for me.)

        P. S. I understand about responding to comments, the need to be “real” and the time it takes. You manage that quite well, but my advice? don’t put pressure on yourself. If you just enjoy it, that’s different.

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        1. Don’t get me wrong, Lori. I myself enjoy reading through all the comments here, and your responses too. It’s not exactly listening in; more like being at a party and participating in the conversational exchanges. 🤗

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          1. I agree, Albert! The comments section really helps us connect and discover. It is nice to have a forum where conversational exchanges can take place. I also find it a plus to be able to easily monitor comments. I have a few Youtube videos where a couple of nasty comments were made about wildlife I had featured (talk of killing them for fun). I had to appeal to the powers that be at YouTube to have them stricken from the comments. It was not an easy process, and it was time consuming to keep checking and reporting.

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        2. That is a good point – to enjoy responding to comments. I grew up with “thank you” etiquette. If presented with a gift, it is proper and kind to reply with a thank you. Replying to comments falls under this rule for me too. I may not get to my replies in a timely manner, but when I do it is with much appreciation and thankfulness to the person who took time to comment. I have found the comment section to be the best way to get to know the people who read my work.

          Writing and even verbalizing thankfulness for a gift has mostly gone by the wayside these days. Those of us who grew up with the niceties of life – the little things that bring a smile or a cheerful moment – have a hard time adjusting to the more self-absorbed way of life. I have had to shed my expectations about kind and caring acts. But that won’t keep me from showering others with a few kind words. 🙂

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  7. My thoughts were exactly as Kim said, not to worry Emma ‘boys will be boys’! I am away from home at the moment and have just come from the Adelaide Zoo where I got to see the new baby Meerkats. OMG, cute beyond words! Thought how much you would have enjoyed seeing them. If I had your email address I would send you the video I shot. Nothing compared to your amazing photos and videos but still enjoyable. xxx ardysz@me.com

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    1. Hello, Ardys! I sent you a quick email explaining why I’ve been so late to contact you and comment here on the blog.

      I wonder if your meerkats are the same as we have here? I know our opossums are quite different than what you have in your neck of the woods. It’s always a treat to discover wildlife and nature in other parts of the world. I can’t wait to see your video! 🙂

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  8. You see broken and fallen limbs – the deer see an ordinary treat courtesy of Mother Nature. What is one person’s trash…HAHA. What a wonderful sanctuary and playground. It does look like a couple of little boys blustering (NOOOO – not the hoofing…Play fair!)
    Thanks for the smile of the day

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    1. In three weeks time, I see Ronnie becoming more courageous about sparring with Spike. They’ve both shed their velvet now and the sharp antler points might be the reason Ronnie has become the victor!

      I hope you are faring well… I haven’t been able to read any blog posts for more than three weeks now. There are lots of reasons, which I will be writing about, and I hope I can catch up on reading other’s blogs in the next couple of weeks. It’s really difficult sometimes, to manage everything when life gets crazy. I guess you would know about that right now…

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