Nine-Hundred Spots to Enjoy During the Pandemic

It has been a most quiet and and enjoyable summer here on Ten-Acre Ranch. Forrest worked from home most of the time, and our pace changed a bit because of that. I found myself outdoors even more, to keep the house quiet while he worked from his computer and laptop, and conducted meetings via the internet. My gardens flourished with ample rain over the summer, and continual mowing kept me busy. I worked to continue cleanup of the landscape at the rock house – clearing trees and shrubs, and eradicating weeds in the iris beds, in addition to maintaining our own flower beds and yard. I dried herbs and froze countless pints of roasted tomato sauce.  And, of course, taking on three orphaned deer in May and June – the most we had ever rehabbed at one time – certainly presented us a new challenge.

The girls had plenty of short and tall grasses to nibble on this summer.
Forrest couldn’t always manage to help with the noontime feedings, so he built a milk station to help me feed the girls. Scout never would use it so I hand fed her while the other two stood at the station. It worked great!

I have read that the average number of spots on a fawn’s coat ranges from 272-342. And each spot ranges in size from 0.24 to 0.51 inches in diameter. It is interesting to think that someone actually counted and measured them, likely in some university or state wildlife biology study. And, much like our own fingerprints, spot patterns are unique to every fawn, and differ in the number of spots, their size, and how they are dispersed. What I find most interesting about a fawn’s coat, is that the dappling of white spots actually helps fawns blend into their surroundings. I cannot tell you the countless times I have entered the deer pen and not noticed the fawns at all, when they were just ahead in the grasses or scant brush, in plain sight. Even while on the move, they sometimes seem to just disappear. Camouflage in nature is a mysterious thing.

Each morning I cut branches of elm, mulberry, apricot, apple, peach, pear, pecan and redbud to provide the triplets leaves and tender twigs upon which they can forage.
Forrest has had a bigger role in raising fawns this year, since he was often working from home with the Covid-19 pandemic. Gracie and Ruthie especially, are attached to the Mama-Daddy!
Forrest enjoys a little bonding time with the girls.

Of course, each fawn has a unique personality. Scout is independent, a strong runner, and fearless – except when she’s not. She reminds me of myself at times – which is likely why we share more of a bond with each other. Gracie is the nurturer of the trio, grooming the other two by cleaning their eyes and ears. She’s also the most interested in getting her milk and finishing off bottles that her sister’s didn’t finish. Gracie is playful. Ruthie is independent, and very much an all-around athlete. She’s a good forager and loves her fruit snacks. I call Forrest the “Mama-Daddy” of Gracie and Ruthie. Gracie actually moos around for him when he leaves the pen.

I finally had to get a bigger feeding pan for the girls – they outgrew this one fairly quickly!
I trim trees for eats in the mornings, so the girls run to the new branches that I toss over the fence. Their favorite leaves are elm, apricot, and pecan.
Ruthie is the youngest and probably the most independent of the trio.

With autumn weather approaching and winter not far behind, the girl’s spots are disappearing and their winter coats are emerging underneath their tawny red hair of summer. I am a little anxious about the changes that fall and winter will bring for these three girls. Will they remain a tight group of sisters, or will natural dominance and hierarchy prevail, as we often observe in the wild? Will the large pen we have created for them be enough to keep them content until release in January? Whatever it is we learn and observe from these little does, we will carry with us and be better educated for the next orphans that present themselves in years to come. We will always be faced with challenges in this life but, for this summer’s experience, I am thankful that nature provided so many spots for us to enjoy during the pandemic.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


43 thoughts on “Nine-Hundred Spots to Enjoy During the Pandemic

    1. Thank you, Michael. We have had good success releasing orphaned deer to the wild after hunting season ends here January 15th. It is not because of danger from hunters, but rather that it can be a time of confusion for young fawns with mother’s being chased during the rut. We have a large coyote population here, and they seem to understand the times of birthing and the rut, making fawns a target for predation. After the rut, seems to be a safer time for our orphans to adapt to their freedom, and make attempts to follow and eventually join some of the local herd that keep to this area. Others move on along the Washita river valley, finding their own way. Our methods of a “soft” release have shown us that instinct overcomes any doubt that many wild things can be raised by humans and make it in the wild. A soft release allows them to come and go as they are comfortable, and we provide nourishment during that time. Water and feeders with deer feed are always available in the canyon just below the slope behind our home. We have a squirrel, “Punkin”, that shows up generally after she’s had babies. She is six years old and has managed well. Sometimes we see her for a few weeks off and on and then we may not see her for several months. Our first fawn, “Daisy” was seven years old the last time we saw her, and she raised all of her babies in the pecan orchard area.

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    1. Thank you, Paulette. I am thankful to live where I do, and can focus on nature most of the time. Doing what we do is personally rewarding and gives back collectively. It’s a chain reaction of goodness.

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  1. Oh my! That all looks SO wrong! As much as I detest deer, I can not forget when Timmy decided that he would move in and live with us. He left me no choice. There was no arguing with a baby deer who did not understand what I was saying, and would have ignored it if he could understand it.

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    1. Timmy came to you for a reason! Ha ha! We get all of the experiences we are supposed to have in this life. I feel good about giving back to nature, and all that I have learned from the deer has made me a better steward of the land.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had a good and unusual idea in making this post’s title about the total number of spots on the three fawns. And of course it’s a clever play on words with the sense of spots as ‘locations’ or ‘places.’

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    1. Hello, Ardys! I am ready for cooler temperatures, and oddly, ready for weaning to be complete (just one more week) and the rut to begin. There is so much to write about – what is happening here and how life is changing in many ways due to the pandemic. Keep well, my dear friend!

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  3. I love everything about this. I’m glad you are caring for them and yet planning to get them back into nature where they belong, when it is the best time for them. They are beautiful!

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    1. It will be January 16th for their release, unless something changes. We have had some interesting happenings with the girls that sometimes makes me wonder if they’ll wait that long to find their freedom!

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  4. This was such a feel good post Lori. Love your photos of the “girls”. I haven’t seen any deer near our place for a while now but I do love watching mamma kangaroo and joey at foot grazing on our front lawn. I sit in bed with my coffee in the morning and enjoy watching the tender care in action. I live in an area with lots of beef cattle grazing especially Black Angus and many of the cows are calving at present. These tiny beasts from new born waste no time getting on their wobbly feet unlike human babies. There are also spring lambs arriving which are always delightful to watch.
    I didn’t know about the spots on deer so thank you for teaching me something new like learning they like acorns! Enjoy your girls who are in good hands with you and your husband. You are giving them the best chance they could have. Take care. Lynn

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    1. Hi Lynn. I would think watching mamma kangaroo would be much the same as what we see with many woodland mamas and their young. It’s a lovely thing to observe, isn’t it? And I couldn’t agree more with you about how tough and resilient most large mammal babies must be, getting up on those legs within minutes of being birthed! And, you know I’ll be out there gathering acorns in the next weeks, competing with squirrels and other deer to get enough for our girls. Last year was a banner year for the large acorns, but this year is not. I am finding some of our oaks on the property are producing but they are small acorns and will take a lot of work to gather. Right now I’m fortunate there are tree leaves and various vines and shrubs to cut and keep the girls in good eats!

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      1. You are like a squirrel yourself Lori hoarding up the acorns. My husband enjoyed reading your post and seeing the photos of your “girls”. It is a sunny spring day here although windy. Hubby has gone to town and picking up some more mulch for our garden. My job this afternoon is doing some weeding before we top up. Lovely to have all the rain but it makes the weeds grow even quicker!

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    1. I have never even seen a reindeer, but I bet I would fall in love with them too! I have seen documentaries about reindeer and their struggle to survive harsh winters. Our deer have an easy life I think, as in the southern US our winters are not all that bitter cold.

      Happy Sunday to you too!! It’s going to be another hot day here!

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  5. A lot of work, but so lovely to see these three little girls. Are you sad when they loose their cute spots? I would be :). My husband is also working from home, only three days a week now, but he’s planning on sticking to that. It’s so nice to have his company and help when possible. Stay safe xxxxx.

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    1. Hello, Henrie! I am not sad about the girls losing spots. It’s interesting to see the beautiful darker gray hair coming in, while they lose the tawny-colored hair and their white spots fade away. It’s another phase of their time with us, being weaned (in just a week), and completely on a diet of woodland browse, plant life (while it lasts this autumn) and feed in winter. As much as I love what we do in helping fawns, I am always happy to see progression and look forward to the day of release. I worried a lot with our first fawn, Daisy. Now I am confident in their ability to survive and I see how instinct is strong in them even though they have been raised by humans.

      Forrest is working from home two and a half days a week, and like you with your husband, I enjoy having him here. I actually think he is able to get more done with his work when he is here. It has also given me a better understanding about what he has to deal with in a day.

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  6. The three graces. ^.^ so precious. Im glad you and FD have had a great summer. Im so ready to see the beautiful fall photos you take!

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    1. Thank you, Dom. I feel autumn is just around the corner. I’m happy for the recent rains, since the slough and old river channel were drying up. They are a good water source for the local wildlife… deer especially! I hope you are seeing some deer in your neck of the woods, or at least a few wild critters running about!

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  7. Ahh…the natural ability to travel here and there incognito – I surmise, for the most part, human trends have forgotten this survival mechanism, given fashion and social media trends – – LOL That said, funny how much the group hug with Forrest “mama-daddy” and the three fawns reminded me of the times spent around the kids our nanny goats were blessed with for the year – nibbling, king of the mountain, nudges, hugs, licks and kisses – sometimes from the one kid I least expected it from – but at the end of the day, like recognizes like and in the end, matching souls manage to find each other – such things happen all the time – within and cross-species – – so, just have to say, Love this post!!! Here? things finally greening up some after being blessed by some rain following a hot, dry summer – under high winds, ungodly temps and fire danger today, and expected to drop below freezing sometime tonight and perhaps, blizzard conditions sometime tomorrow or Wednesday – thus, I’m thankful Mother Nature showed up to do watering, so I don’t have to remember to ‘disconnect/drain’ the hoses before winter like weather roars in – 🙂

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    1. Ugh, the bitter winter… I hope we enjoy a long and colorful autumn, though one can never count on that. I don’t know how you manage in a colder climate. And certain times of year your weather can go from one extreme to another… yet we’re neighboring states, and we do not see those extremes but once in a blue moon! Winters are not so bad here. I only have to keep one hose out and remember to disconnect over the winter months. It’s the hose that I continually refill the wildlife tub with. The water for chickens and deer is easy because the well house sits nearby and I can carry most of the water to the chickens and the deer have a heated tub that sits right at the spigot. Easy peasy!

      I am cognizant of what I wear around the fawns, and am very cautious about that in the woodlands. If you want to SEE wildlife, you have to BE wildlife, wearing nature colors in an attempt to blend in. I never smile or bare my teeth, and I keep my eyes hooded a good bit when I’m out there in the woods. I marvel at the coats on the wild things all through the year. But these spots on the fawns are a marvel – they work!

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  8. I love the title of the post and to read that you, FD and the fawns have been faring well during the pandemic. It is possible; there are lifestyle upsides if only we are prepared to accept them. I think those of us who were living well before are making the best of it now.

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    1. Well said, Dale! The pandemic really hasn’t affected us much. I don’t dwell on it either. Life brings us change and we roll with it or we don’t. I think people suffer a lot by being panic and worry. And I agree that many of us that live well, have good health and are mostly self-sufficient are “making the best of it now”.

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  9. Hello Lorie and it is always a happy thing to find a post notice in my email. And I read every word with keen enjoyment to learn about how things have been going for you and FD. I love to read about nature and your posts have been more informative than most things that I have read about deer in Google. Your observations are the best and very detailed. You are an excellent teacher.

    I still shake my head at all the work that you are able to accomplish but then I remember that you are still in your prime of life and in good health. You are blessed my friend to be able to do so many things that bring you enjoyment plus giving back to the nature and the environment. You and Forrest stay well.

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    1. Hello, Yvonne! Raising these three girls has been a new, but exciting adventure. We are still learning of course, I think every experience we get with deer shows us even more, if only we take the time to observe. I’ll be writing more about that soon.

      I don’t feel like I’m in the prime of life… I think that was ten years ago or more! But we are in good health, and we are able to be productive. I’ve always thought the happiest people are those who keep busy and have much to do! I have a bum foot, and I’m fatigued more than I used to be, but I still manage more than most twenty-year olds I know. I’m thankful to have grown up a hard-working farm girl. It’s been a good life!

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    1. Thank you SO much! It feels wonderful to give back to nature. We have been doing wildlife rehabilitation since 2011, and though we’ve learned a lot, I still feel every experience teaches us so much more.It is a rewarding and happy life.

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  10. I’ve been following you long enough to know that your nine hundred spots had to refer to fawns. The only thing I didn’t know was how many! Three is quite a houseful, but it’s fascinating to read about the ways you’ve adapted procedures for them (such as feeding) and how they interact with each other. I listen to an outdoor show on radio every week — hunting and fishing — and about a week ago a fellow who’d called in was talking about the doe he came across with three fawns in tow. He couldn’t quite decide if she’d had triplets, or if it was a case twins and an adoptee, but it certainly was unusual.

    You’re either finished with the weaning now or about to be finished. I hope it goes well!

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    1. You guessed correctly, Linda. We fed the girls their last bottles of formula on Saturday evening. Ruthie will be three months old on the 15th of September, so the timing is perfect. Ruthie still has her spots, but Scout and Gracie only have a few scattered on their hind quarters. The darker coats of winter are emerging, and they’ll be needing them as the mornings are quite chilly here now. All of the adult wild deer have winter coats and they blend in with tree trunks and the soil… they’re difficult to spot in the woodlands!

      Three fawns is not unusual, but not as common as twins. We observed “Momanthem” (a doe and her three fawns) all of last summer in the orchard area. As far as I know, they all survived the rut last year. Letting the orchard go wild the last two years has really been a boon to wildlife in the area. With all of that cover, critters are more likely to survive. We have seen three does in the orchard area and all have twins, so the girls should have plenty of opportunity to find a way into the local herd come release time this winter.

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