I keep fairly busy outdoors throughout the day, but mornings are when you’ll find me hardest at work. I’m up for coffee at 6:00, and out of the door by 7:00, tending to chickens and working in the garden, flower beds, or yard while it’s fairly shady and the temperatures are cool. As I begin my day’s work, I often see Tukker feeding on weeds in the yard, or tree leaves of young saplings along the outer woodlands. He generally comes by to check out what I’m doing and then moseys off nibbling in another direction. By 8:00 in the morning, he’s disappeared somewhere to do a little ruminating. Most days, I see him duck into our neighbor Steve’s backyard and, often, do not see him again until around noon, or even in the late afternoon or evening hours.
I knew Tukker was highly irritated by pesky insects that attacked him all day long, but have not given much thought to just where he bedded down during the heat of the day. Many times, we observed him tossing his head and flicking his ears, then running off to escape biting flies. We had seen this same reaction with other deer that seemed to have a low tolerance for biting insects. Besides the biting flies, it was normal to find a new cluster of ticks attached each day to Tukker’s growing antlers, in and on his ears, under his chin, and around his eyelids and anus. I knew from working in the orchard in the tall grasses and towering trees, that insects tended to be worse in those areas. So I wasn’t surprised to see Tukker keeping closer by our home where he could access good eats from trees on the outer edge of the woodlands and along fence lines, and over at Steve’s, where the property was just a little more woolly and wild.
Though I often looked out for Tukker during the day, just glancing around to see where he spent his time bedded down, I could never find him. I figured he was behaving as bucks do during the spring and summer months, lying low, eating well, and protecting his growing antlers. I expected he was in Steve’s backyard somewhere. But it was FD who happened to notice movement outside of the computer room window one day about lunch time. Tukker was exiting his lair, which was quite cleverly located under the kitchen window!
This spot was sensible. It offered protection from the sun, and because of the dense shrubbery along that wall, Tukker was well camouflaged. Just on the other side of the forsythia and spirea bushes, is my herb and lettuce greens bed. All of my herbs are placed in flower beds around the house, and in the lettuce and greens patch for easy picking and to ward off insects, which are often repelled by the strong fragrances. While cool and mostly bug-free, Tukker found comfort in the soft dirt, and it offered him a good view of any passersby. He could make a quick escape from either direction if need be, and he could keep an eye out for FD, who sometimes offered an apple or carrot in the late afternoon. Here, Tukker had found a most excellent location to ruminate and rest. And I can’t help but wonder if it also provides a bit of a comfort for him to be near his human family.
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