Building on Survival Skills

The weather has cooled down quite a bit with this past week’s rains and the arrival of a Canadian cold front. Our three orphaned fawns have enjoyed the respite from the blazing sun and stifling humidity of summer. During those hot days in June and all through August, the fawns took advantage of the cooler temperatures of early morning and late evening for romps and play in the deer pen. Not having had three little deer at one time in the pen other years, it has been interesting to see their personalities and skills develop. Yet as a small herd, they are very much a close-knit group, and do most everything together.

 

 

Having expanded the deer pen over the years and creating a better habitat for orphaned fawns with good brush and cover plants to mimic a wild scenario, I thought we were well-prepared to take on three little deer. So far, it has been enough space for them, but I wonder about the next four months until their release. Ruthie, the youngest of the trio will be three months old on September 15th. As personalities become more marked and individual physical abilities develop, it will be interesting to see if the pen provides ample space and enough landscape diversity to keep them interested and stimulated in their surroundings. But for now, we can only observe and make adjustments as we move day-by-day through this adventure.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


26 thoughts on “Building on Survival Skills

    1. We thought they would use the stock tank/pool to cool off in this summer, but they like to drink out of it instead. There is a small stock tank on the northeast corner of the pen, and they like to stand in that, but there is only room for one. We will remove the big blue tank when freezing weather is a threat. I have a large heated bucket for their winter drinking. The deer sure are a lot of fun to watch when they’re running and jumping, but it’s also worrisome when they nearly crash into each other!

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    1. These girls put on more of a show than what I’ve seen in the wild or with any of our other rehabbed fawns. What is interesting to see in the wild is when the mama doe plays with her fawns. They can be quite comical.

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    1. I was watching Scout jump straight up in the air tonight, and can she ever spring high! These three worry me a bit… there is almost too much action going on in that pen. I’m glad you enjoyed the videos, Anne. 🙂

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        1. Yes, there is room to expand the pen. It’s fairly expensive for 6 x 10 kenneling panels, and then mesh cloth to cover. It would also mean relocating the large garden. 🤔 The pen was plenty large for one or two deer, but three seems to be a crowd! Ha ha!

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  1. I laughed and laughed at that second video. Haven’t you taught them not to play with their food, yet? All of the videos are wonderful. Play is so important for young critters, from squirrels to deer to bison. It’s important for human children, too, and the sooner we get the schools and other social settings open for them, the better. Our schools are open now, and the sound of kids on the playground last week, laughing and shouting, was wonderful.

    You might get a kick out of a friend’s video of bison calves playing on the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas.

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    1. Our schools have started back here, and it is lovely to hear the children on the playground and at sports or band practice. I can hear traffic down the street picking up during the week too. We all need some social interaction I think, even though I prefer sticking to our little ranch, doing my own thing most of the time.

      The bison calves are cute! I’ve seen a few roaming in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma – not far from here. All babies in nature are cute (well, I think they are anyway!), and you are right, play is necessary. Over the years, I have enjoyed watching mama does play with their fawns. It’s hilarious to see grown adult deer acting silly, jumping and frolicking with the little ones. Daisy – our first rehabbed fawn, used to plonk around in the rain with her babies. What joy!

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  2. I so love the antics of your young charges Lori! I think one could just spend hours watching them play and interact with one another. You have done a great job with the pen but as you say will it be big enough as they grow! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Sometimes it’s a little scary being in the pen when they are running hard, leaping and jumping. The’re very good at stopping suddenly or pivoting quickly, but I’ve been in the way during a miss step, and I can tell you those hooves are sharp! I’ve also been plowed into and those girls are like a freight train coming at a person! I generally stick to gluing myself along the fence or in a corner near the barn to stay out of harm’s way!

      It’s a beautiful thing to watch them play. I look forward to seeing them run free in January.

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  3. What fun! Even though I see deer in our woods here in WMass, I never get to see the fawns playing like that. Usually they are feeding along or in the roads I travel and skedaddle into the woods as I approach. That is a great pen habitat you’ve created as they mature and learn to fend a bit.

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    1. Over the years Forrest and I have worked hard to create a natural habitat for orphaned deer, by increasing the pen size, providing ample shade and cover in which to hide. However, having three deer this year, we’re wondering if it will be large enough to support them until our usual release.

      I think you’d have to spend a lot of time following deer or attracting them to your yard to witness play. We have a couple of gravity feeders at the bottom of our slope where the local herd comes to visit and feed. That is where we see fawns playing in the wild. But it’s a real boon to see our orphaned fawns entertaining themselves in the deer pen! I like that word, skedaddle. Most of the wild deer skedaddle into the woods if they spot us too!

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  4. Loved the videos Lori, thank you! I have a dumb question…do the deer keep the grass in the pen ‘mowed’ or do you have to mow it? It’s a nice area and what a nice pool for them. The dear in the second video who was playing with the bush reminds me of how kangaroos play and do their practice boxing. Every now and then we will come out of the house and notice that a plant has been ravaged and it is because the kangaroos like to practice their skills. Glad you are all doing well! xx

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    1. That’s a good question, Ardys! I mow the pen. The deer will eat certain grasses so I leave some areas taller and of course I plant that very tall deer plot which they nibble on a lot. These girls are not afraid of the mower. They’ll hide in the back section, but they are not panicked by it (I use a push mower). Ruthie especially will stomp and watch, but she doesn’t take off in flight.

      I wondered if kangaroos boxed! I am sure your kangaroo-ravaged plants are much the same as the bucks here wrecking young trees and shrubs when they shed antler velvet and also when they create rubs during the rut. So far Tukker hasn’t ruined any of the plants around the house, like Ronnie did years ago. I lost a lot of shrubs and small trees to those antlers!

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  5. Lori, the videos are marvelous and so enjoyable. You and FD have created a wonderful enclosure for the orphans and in my humble opinion nothing seems to be lacking except maybe the possible lack of space as they get older which you mentioned in your post. But the space is so clean and green and those lucky fawns are very happy and healthy.

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    1. Yvonne, I think you understand the work involved in what we do – those pens don’t stay “clean and green” on their own! Ha ha! It’s said that deer can excrete forty times a day, so that times three is a lot of scat! I generally pick that up as best I can, and I often water down the area where they tend to urinate. Like most mammals, they do have areas where they do their business, but also areas that they leave clean for resting.

      I imagine if we continue to focus on fawn rehab in such numbers, we will have to enlarge the pen again. We are already considering how to move some of the iris we are trying to save, and incorporate an area under a huge oak that has gone wild in the rock house back yard. All of that takes money as you know, so we will see what we can manage in the next few years.

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