And Then There Were Four…

Back in March, an inner voice kept telling me “More Than One”. So I was not surprised as, one by one, orphaned fawns, Scout, Gracie, and Ruthie came to live with us. However, I was definitely surprised in late September when Forrest was contacted about yet another orphaned fawn that needed a new home. This fawn was a good distance southwest of us, and the couple that had taken it in after the mother was killed by a hay swather, found themselves needing to relocate to another area. With their impending move, they knew they could not continue raising the fawn. I could not imagine how they would manage such a long transport with a four-month-old fawn, but I said, “Sure. Why not?” After all, how could we turn away a little girl in need of a new home.

Still, I worried about a few things (I know, me, worry?). What if Scout, Gracie, and Ruthie did not accept a new one into their tight, little sisterhood? The deer pen would not be easy to divide into two sections without some additional work and expense. I sure did not have the time to monitor their behavior either. And, as the day of delivery got closer and closer, I worried that transport might turn out to be a catastrophe. I had heard stories where transporting deer did not go well, and I surely did not need to add tending to an injured fawn to my list of daily chores! Obviously, the old Eeyore in me was creeping back into my brain, and I worried about everything that might go wrong.

Penelope arrived in a truck hauler for small livestock. She seemed perfectly content in this mode of transport. But coaxing her out of her cozy quarters proved to be a challenge.

Of course, Eeyore was proven wrong, and nothing went awry. The couple arrived with a carefully thought out plan for transport, and Forrest was prepared on our end for an easy transition to the deer pen. The only difficulty with little Penelope, was her attitude about being pulled from the cozy truck hauler. But we all had a good laugh once she was in the deer pen, as she had put up such a fight getting out of the livestock hauler that she shredded her daddy’s cargo shorts in the process!

Once she was safely on land in the deer pen, and apologized to with the gift of a few cucumber chips (her favorite snack), she moseyed around the pen to check out the vegetation, water, and of course, her new sisters. Thankfully, Scout, Gracie, and Ruthie took it all in stride and did not react negatively to their new pen-mate. It was a warm, sunny afternoon after all, and it was time for some important rumination and napping that could not be disturbed for too long by the new kid on the block.

Forrest assisted with the gate. Fortunately Scout, Gracie, and Ruthie just observed and were not in the way.
Sporting a bit of an attitude at having been cast in a strange pen in unfamiliar territory, Penelope finally gave in to taking a few cucumber slices from Forrest.
Later in the afternoon, Forrest managed to coax Penelope to join the sisterhood for a snack of a few acorns. She would not eat from Forrest’s hand but she did eat a few he left on the ground.

Over the next days, “Sweet Pea” (short for Penelope and easier to say) showed us she was much like Scout – independent and resilient. Gracie quickly became her friend. Ruthie occasionally bossed her around and hoofed at her, especially around food (Ruthie is all about the food!). But Sweet Pea has settled in nicely, and is acclimating to her new herd.

Since her arrival, Sweet Pea has also been introduced to a very different diet than she was getting, and seems to be loving it. She’s often first in line for the elm, apricot, apple, and pecan leaves on branches I cut each morning. She also enjoys the root vegetables and fruit I put out each morning while those are still in season. She loves acorns and Double Down deer feed. And she loves to play. In fact, she is often the instigator of morning play in the cool temperatures of autumn.

Sweet Pea loves Elm leaves!
After a morning of good eats foraged from the woodlands by the new, strange mama, Sweet Pea enjoys a cool, shady spot in which to ruminate.
Sweet Pea (far right) is very small in comparison to the other girls. This is a favorite spot for bedding down, as the girls can watch for any activity from every angle.
Mornings are always busy, as the girls have to check out what kind of eats mama has foraged from the woodlands. Soon, winter will arrive and only cat briar and a few winter grasses will be readily available. This means I will have to search harder to find woodland browse.
Sweet Pea challenges Gracie in play! Sometimes it gets quite serious with ears back and a good clubbing of hooves. Gracie rebuffs Sweet Pea’s attempts, but comes back with nose-in-the-air body language to signify she is the boss!

While she’s a tiny deer, Sweet Pea has shown us she is quite capable of standing up for herself. Our first orphaned fawn, Daisy, was a tiny girl too and, after setting her free, she continually proved to us she could manage in the wild, despite her size. Release for this foursome is just around the corner on January 16th. I am hopeful that, over the next couple of months, the sisterhood of Scout, Gracie, Ruthie, and now Sweet Pea, will become even stronger, and bond into an inseparable, small herd.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

24 thoughts on “And Then There Were Four…

  1. I’m wondering what your limits are? How many more deer can you take in before your resources begin to stretch thin? Money’s one thing, but all of those trips to the woods to forage for groceries is quite a chore. I only took on keeping one lone squirrel supplied with acorns and dandelions, but that critter could be pretty demanding. Your dedication’s admirable, for sure. It is amazing how well things worked out with Penelope.


    1. I was so thankful that travel and transition went well for Penelope. She continues to show us she’s doing well and developing a good appetite for the browse I bring each morning. Yes, doing rehabilitation to the best of my abilities has always been important to me. I’ve learned so much about nutrition and keeping things interesting for them. Now that we’ve had an ice storm, I don’t have to work so hard cutting limbs – they’re laying around for the picking. It is a lot of work overall, I admit. Most people would toss feed in and call it good. I’m very serious about my dedication to giving them the best start possible. It doesn’t last forever. Come January 16th, I’ll be walking with them in the woods, showing them around. Then I can rest a little.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if they stayed together as their own little herd! What a sweet story. They just don’t look old enough to be released in January but as you describe them, they seem perfectly capable. You make me laugh at your Eeyore comparisons. 🙂


    1. I’m better about ditching my old Eeyore thoughts, but every once in a while he comes carousing back to help me backslide into negative thinking. It sure won’t be long and I’ll be walking with the girls into the woods and showing them their new digs. I’m pretty sure they’ll do like all of the other deer did, and find home on our place for several months before venturing out much. I hope they do stay together!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So now we learn the details of the latest member of the deersome you mentioned the other day. I’m glad it went so well, and with a planned release date of January 16, your extra work won’t be a burden for long—we hope.


    1. Already the ice storm has made things easier on me. I don’t have to cut limbs down and drag them to the deer pen. Most everything that dropped from the trees is nearby and ready to toss over the fence. These four have been easy. Actually, the hardest work is the first month – getting them to take a bottle and helping them with bathroom business. But I sure do look forward to release day! Of course then I’ll be busy walking them, showing them the orchard and river beyond, and I’ll be able to do a little more hiking and photography!


    1. I was so happy there were no problems with the other three accepting Sweet Pea. She’s so tiny compared to the big girls, but apparently she doesn’t know it! I’ve seen her get dominant with them a few times – she can hold her own.


  4. How awesome to have 4… I love reading you blog and I’ve started reading them to my 92 yr old mom (who’s vision is very poor) and she loves hearing about you all. Thank you for sharing!


      1. Yes she can see the most of the pictures (i hold a magnifier over them) She lives by the woods and there are deer in her yard sometimes so your stories really make her smile when I read one to her… I’m going back to the beginning stories for her next! So keep them coming she sure enjoys them… so do I!!!


        1. That just warms my heart, Lynn, you are such a sweet daughter to care for your mother so lovingly. It might sound silly but I sometimes go way back to the Daisy stories, and it feels good to remember. All of the deer have been special and taught us so much. I will be forever thankful for their walk with me on my journey. I’m happy when I learn they bring someone else enjoyment!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Enjoyed reading this! I must say, given the ‘shredded cargo shorts’ intro, I was prepared to see pictures of such with blood dripping here and there, despite small size/sweet nature – but nope! Didn’t see gashes/weeping wounds in the picture showing the shredded cargo shorts, thus, yes, she is a Sweet Pea, no? otherwise, pictures of emergency sutures would have been posted….?? 😀


    1. I think the guy was just glad there wasn’t any blood or gashes or gosh knows what! Those hooves are mighty sharp and the kicking can be wicked hard! We all had a good laugh when it was over. The couple was actually going to look at some homes (hoping to find a ranch in the OKC vicinity) on their way back home (five hours away), so maybe they stopped to find some new shorts before that task. Sweet Pea had a little attitude with them too, as if she was unhappy about making the transition to a new home. But I know she longed for them too after they left, and she still goes to the gate she came in, to look sometimes. Maybe she remembers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Who’d think an ice storm cold be beneficial? You got your hands full and what help the storm provided with fallen limbs must be appreciated. Of course power outages are a negative.Food for three, what’s one more? Iam sure it’s not that simple and I admire your dedication to giving them a good start.


    1. Thank you, Steve. Now that a couple of weeks have gone by, the elm limbs have shed their leaves. I thought them laying on the ground might preserve the leaves a bit but it did not. So I’m back out there with my pole saw, trying to locate a tree or two that might still have green or yellowing leaves attached. It won’t be long and we’ll be feeding the girls deer feed primarily. Hopefully, there will be greens on the ground when we release them in January, and maybe the woodlands will have good browse to help get them through the winter months. We will keep feed in the feeders for them too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love all the pictures, and of course the story! We talk about them on the phone, but it’s just as special reading about all their, and your, adventures in raising them! I LOVE your life, sister! You and FD have truly dedicated yourselves to helping the woodland creatures (and several domesticated ones, LOL); you have the BIGGEST hearts! Wonderful post!!!


    1. Aw, thank you Sister!! It’s an adventurous life and very special to have connections with nature like we do. Now, if I could just keep those snoopy deer from eating my earbuds each morning when you and I visit…


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