When my siblings and I were quite young, Mom would take us shopping for school clothes in a nearby town towards the end of each summer. I looked forward to these trips because I liked new clothes, but my brother and one sister loathed having to go along. Because they really did not want to be there in the first place, they usually found trouble – hiding in clothes racks, chasing each other, and pulling pranks. Mom was often exasperated by their antics. I always took my littlest sister by the hand and kept our distance from the troublesome two. Finally, Mom found a solution to get us to behave. If everyone was good and didn’t cause trouble, she would take us to the park for an hour of play.
That city park was magical to us. I do not remember a lot about the layout of it now, but there were lots of old trees, slopes, and hills. There was running space of course, but mostly it offered a rough layout of something wild and woolly and different than where we played at home. In the park, our imaginations could run wild for that one hour.
For several weeks, I have been sensing the restlessness of our fawns. I watch them run and leap in the pen each morning. Both Scout and Gracie have managed to jump out of the pen during these morning romps. And lately, their continual pacing along the fence has made me realize how bored the girls have become. Though I worked hard to rearrange the look of the pen by placing various tree limbs, shrubbery and catbrier around for them to browse as if they were in the wild, and hanging a tether ball for batting and a soccer ball for hoofing, their interest wore off quickly. My mothering heart knew the girls needed some additional stimulation. Feeling this, I approached Forrest about letting them go free earlier than we had planned, but he reminded me each time why we wait. I knew his reasoning made sense, but that didn’t keep me from worrying about their boredom.
Being the weekend, Forrest assisted me with chores on Saturday. I tended to the chickens while he got the deer set up for the day. Every morning was the same for me. I was miserable seeing the fawns pacing at the gate. I didn’t bother going in the deer pen after I finished in the chicken barn. Instead I rushed to the house, tears welling up. Minutes later, Forrest came in the house and announced that he could see the fawns wanted out. He agreed that we should release them, hopefully for a day outing and a return to the pen for safety at night and protection from the winter storm that was moving in the next morning. I was relieved, and very excited for them. Regardless if they returned to the pen or not, I was ready for this moment and I knew they were too.
When Forrest opened the main gate, all four quickly exited. For the first fifteen minutes, they went into high alert with full-flare rump hair. Tails were up and fanned out – all of that white hair was stunning and the girls looked so healthy! Sometimes noses were to the ground, other times their eyes were fixed on something in the distance. A few times something suddenly sent them prancing off doing the stiff-legged march, and other times they gave additional danger signals – high-stepping, stomping, snorting and running off bounding and leaping. They were behaving instinctually. Everything was spot on with what we had witnessed in releasing our other orphaned fawns.
Five hours later, as the afternoon was drawing to a close, the girls followed us back to the pen. About thirty minutes earlier, a worn out Penelope had chosen a spot in the woods just behind the house to bed down, but Forrest and the other three went back to fetch her. Fortunately, she got up, stretched, and followed them back to the house. Back in the pen, they had big drinks of water and nibbled on deer feed. Forrest and I quickly set out to find the girls an evening snack in the woods and, on return, watched them nibble away on leaves, wild berries, and catbrier. Before long, they bedded down to rest.
For now, Scout, Gracie, Ruthie, and Penelope seem content back in the confines of their pen. It could be my imagination, but they seem a little brighter of spirit and mind. We will do this again just as soon as the weather is a bit more favorable for Forrest and I to walk with them. I look forward to watching them run and investigate, even if they do not return to their pen this time. I wonder if my mom felt the same way as she watched us run wild in the park? Well, except for returning to the car when our hour of freedom was over. I think we had it easier herding the deer back in the pen than mom did trying to get us back in the car!
© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…