Creating a Fawn Splash Pond

In early July, Oklahoma temperatures were on the rise and, because of ample rains this spring, the humidity was almost unbearable at times. With this oppressive heat, it seemed I was continually cleaning and filling water sources. Many afternoons, I freshened the water in the chicken yard and deer pens, making sure good, cold well water was available. I filled bird baths daily and kept the old cast iron bathtub down in the canyon filled so that wildlife could get water too. All of our rehabilitated fawns drank from that bathtub after release, and continued to as long as they were in the area. Squirrels, birds, foxes, opossums, and raccoons drink from it daily, though am I never too happy when the raccoons use it for bathing, or crows use it as a cleaning station for a recent kill.

Forrest and I watched this week-old fawn swim across the slough after its mama. Neither of us realized fawns that young could swim so well!

In early July, I observed Gracie standing in the small stock tank we kept in the deer pen. I remembered buck Ronnie when he was little – he had a fascination for water and often dunked his head way down in the water. Tukker loved the water too, and often utilized the small tank to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. But when I saw Gracie in the stock tank, and then Ruthie tried to vie for a spot in the water, I wondered about finding a bigger solution. I did not want to spend money on a larger stock tank, and it would not be feasible to dig a small pond in the barnyard area. Later in the week I came up with an idea!

Gracie loves the water!

Three years ago, while checking fences on the west end of the orchard property, I heard water running. The neighboring property, owned by a cattle rancher friend of ours, had a stock tank just across from our fence. I walked over to check out the source of the noise and found a horizontal split about six inches down the tank wall from which water was pouring out. Seeing that, I flipped off the circuit breaker to the pump so water would not continue to pour into the damaged tank and onto the ground. I then reported this to our friend and, within a few days, his farmhand came out and installed a new tank, shoving the old, damaged tank to the side. Each time we passed by the discarded tank afterwards, I thought about how so many large plastic items are simply left as landscape trash. Over time, trees grew around and over it, trapping it along the fence line.

When I asked Forrest about possibly repurposing the old blue tank into a small swimming pool for the fawns, he was game! This surprised me because I am always coming up with projects and this one would require some work. But that very afternoon, when we headed out to the west end of the property with the Mule to gather game camera cards and have a nice, cold beer along the way, Forrest stopped at the old water tank to check out the viability of my proposal. After a short assessment of what would be involved in rescuing the old tank from its tangle of brush and getting it back to Ten-Acre Ranch, Forrest grabbed the electric chain saw from the back of the buggy and began cutting away the brush and shoveling out years of soggy debris that had collected in the tank, despite neither of us being dressed for this kind of work. But, with Forrest cutting and me dragging the cut limbs away and along the fence, the brush clearing went much quicker than I thought it might.

With the tank now free from its tangle, Forrest headed back to the house to get the utility trailer, while I shoveled and scraped the remaining sludge from the bottom of the tank so it could fully drain. After the water level in the tank dropped and I had most of the sludge removed, I decided to give it a tug just to see how heavy it was going to be. I managed to slide the tank just a couple of feet when a skunk bolted from under it! I noticed this clever skunk had forged a little dugout under the far end of the tank to create a shelter. The plastic was an excellent roof to protect from wind and rain, and the sludge in the tank was a perfect insulator from cold and heat. I felt bad about ruining the skunk’s cozy home, but he would have plenty of time to relocate before winter weather arrived. After loading the stock tank on the trailer and transporting it home, Forrest spent the afternoon scrubbing the tank clean, cutting off the top lip down to where the split was, and then buffing the edge smooth so it would not be sharp and cause injury to the fawns.

Forrest clipped away the snarl of tree limbs and branches, while I drug them off and piled them along the fence line.
The sludge debris had to be shoveled and scraped out before we could move the tank. The depression on the bottom right of the image, was the dugout for a very clever skunk!
The Kawasaki Mule is my work partner all throughout the day. We used it and a utility trailer to transport the stock tank to its new home.

Mostly, the girls use their new splash pond as a drinking station. But every now and then I see Gracie standing in it, and I’ve seen Scout jump into it while on one of her runs, splashing water everywhere and getting Gracie and Ruthie rousted up. I am proud to have given this discarded stock tank new life by providing a watering hole of sorts for the girls to enjoy. And it did not cost more than a day’s work to clean it up and do a little fixing!

The stock tank makes for a nice watering hole for the girls and, thankfully, we had plenty of space in the pen to set it up.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


25 thoughts on “Creating a Fawn Splash Pond

  1. Oh! Thank goodness you didn’t get sprayed by the skunk! We keep large containers of water out for our wildlife too. One morning I looked out and there was a coyote getting a drink, and once I watched as skunk waddle down to the water, get a drink, and then waddle back to where it came from. It kind of grosses me out when I see buzzards out there. My husband says well, they need water too, but it’s just the idea. A few years ago one of the fawns decided to stand in one of them, just like Gracie in your picture, to cool off on a really hot summer day. I thought, that rascal, so that’s what we named her.

    Like

    1. Ha ha! Now Ellen, you know I love those buzzards, and they are very important to the ecosystem, being cleansers of Mother Earth! 🙂 They’re actually very clean. I’d be thrilled if I saw vultures at our wildlife bathtub! Isn’t it great to watch all sorts of nature at water? Our slough provides good water too, but it can get nasty by end of summer if things dry up. I have some great photos of our deer on release, scampering through the slough water. I’ve even seen the adult mamas getting a bath and playing in water. Rascal is smart!! They know what to do to cool off!

      Like

    1. If it wasn’t for all of that “physical labor” and all of these ranch projects we have going on, I might be able to create a post about the history of that old bathtub! Ha ha! It started out as a water tank for horses, but when we no longer kept horses, it became a horseradish planter. When that failed, I had Forrest move it down to the canyon where I could still stretch a hose to it for filling. I’d worn out cleaning and refilling a smaller water bucket down there (an old cutoff plastic barrel) when Daisy deer was released. The bathtub is wonderful – easy to drain and keep halfway clean, and I can run a stock heater down there in the winter months so the water doesn’t freeze. It was really a boon to repurpose that old tub as a stock tank.

      Like

  2. You two are at the top of my list of ‘can do’ people! When I think of all the work you’ve put into the orchard, your garden, Forrest’s Mother’s old house, the iris garden and the rehab work with the deer, you two amaze me. I love repurposing things too, and this is a great outcome, and such a perfect solution. Thank you for telling about it. xx

    Like

    1. Oh Ardys, there are times I’m weary with all that we have going on here, but at the same time, I feel so alive as I’m working and I have such pride when we complete a project. Perhaps that is the old farm girl way of looking at life. It will be interesting to see how much more we can accomplish here when Forrest retires. I’m very excited about that! And repurposing is so important! I think folks all over the world are more of that way of thinking! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My grandparents used horses and mules to pull farm implements back in the early days. I’m thankful for modern day tractors and UTV’s to help us with work today. But… farming with historic methods would be a real eye-opening experience for sure!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was in junior high or so, I worked at the Saint Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, and set markers for races in San Francisco Bay. We saw a herd of deer swimming from Tiburon to Angel Island! Apparently, they come and go. I can not imagine what would prompt them to go out there at all!

    Like

    1. Wow!! That would have been interesting to see! I have seen video from northern states, like Minnesota where they swim in lakes or across rivers to get somewhere. Here we just have the river, which is pretty swift flowing, but I understand deer are excellent swimmers. The slough and old river channel simply provide more of a splash area and drinking water source.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How fantastic to repurpose the old water trough. Inspired. Access to water is so important for wild creatures. We have numerous bird baths and get everything from bees and tiny finches to crows and spectacularly, black cockatoos.

    Like

  5. They are good swimmers, indeed. I’d forgotten that during Hurricane Harvey, when everything around here flooded so badly, I managed a photo of a deer swimming across our marina. I suspect your deer, fawns and grownups alike, are happier that they get to choose a swim, rather than having to save themselves by swimming! I’ve been seeing a lot more plastic tubs like your blue one out in the pastures, too. Down along the coast, galvanized steel is the only choice, because of the corrosive effects of salt, and I suspect the plastic is cheaper — short and long-term.

    Like

    1. That image of the buck swimming is fantastic! Our girls will enjoy the slough and old river channel in the spring. I believe Ronnie deer was the only deer we’ve raised that was completely fascinated with water. He enjoyed dunking his head all the way in the water. Ha ha! I’ve never thought about whether people choose the plastic or metal stock tanks. This one is fairly easy to clean. I’ll have to drain it before winter’s freezing temperatures, and we will use a large heated water bucket for the deer. Mostly this blue tank was for splashing in and cooling off on those hot summer days.

      I hope you are keeping safe during the hurricanes and tropical storms. We are not getting much residual rain from those, but we’d like to. It’s very dry this autumn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Can I ask what you use to clean the new stock tank? Our containers get really gunky sometimes and we usually just use a pressure spray of water. A few times my husband has scrubbed them with Ivory dishwashing soap, rinsed them well and then we let the sun dry them. Do you use something else?

        Like

        1. I sprinkle a thin layer of lime in the water when I fill with fresh water. The lime powder settles to the bottom and keeps the water pretty much clear for a month. I’m like you, I scrub with a scrubbing cloth to clean the algae off. I don’t use chemical or soap. Most of the livestock farmers around here pour a cup of bleach in the water to keep it clear, which I think is terrible! Keeping the stock tank in the shade helps slow algae, but we don’t have that option. Keeping them clean is a chore, isn’t it?

          Like

      2. My cat, Dixie Rose, loved water. All it took was the sound of it to bring her to the sink or tub. If I was filling the tub for a bath, she’d jump right in. I couldn’t believe it at first, but it became a bit of a humorous ritual. She wouldn’t stay in after it was more than six inches deep, but in shallower water she had a whee of a time.

        Like

  6. Great project and solution to the watering/cooling problem, Lori. You guys take great pains to provide for your charges and in their own way I am sure they know and appreciate it.
    Once while walking in the woods near a wide stream, I heard a lot of splashing and figured a fox or coyote was swimming across in my direction. To my surprise a handsome young buck came out through threes soaking wet. In Maine I have watched moose swim which is a great example of water’s buoyancy as they can weigh between 100-200 pounds.

    Like

Leave a Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.