A Walk on the Wild Side

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.

Tails were flared and fanned in the open yard and pasture. Thus, why they are called white-tailed deer!
Forrest shows the girls where the feeders and water tub are down in the woodland bottom.
The girls quickly learned to make the circle up the slope and around the house, back down to the canyon. All four got a lot of good exercise!
Venturing out to the pecan orchard.
With the rut in full swing, there were lots of good scents to be discovered all through the woods!
Taking a walk to the west end of the orchard property.
Busy traffic to the north along Park Road spooked all of the girls… they ran quickly back to home…
Except for Gracie who is Daddy’s girl. She came running back to Forrest, and I went back to find the other three.
Like Tukker deer was as a fawn, Gracie is quite attached to Forrest. He said she followed him just like a puppy all of the way to the west end and back home, occasionally stopping to snoop around and then running to catch up.
Meanwhile, I found the other three down in the willow tree area not far from the slough.
Back home in familiar territory, the girls snooped around a bit just outside their pen. Shortly after, they followed us in their pen and settled down to rest. It was a big day!

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…


21 thoughts on “A Walk on the Wild Side

  1. It may or may not have been your original intention to sandwich the deer-related bulk of the post between nostalgic look-backs at your own childhood; as a rhetorical device it works well and gives a sense of rounding, with a satisfying return to where both the post and you started out. The picture above the caption “With the rut in full swing…” gives viewers a feel for both the deer and the land at this time of year.

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    1. I was thinking of the freedom I felt as a child, connecting with the landscape in that park, when we watched the deer roam around that morning. I still feel that way when I hike to the river, taking the animal trails and enjoying just being a part of the wild. It pleases me that you get a feel for what I see.

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  2. Outings are so restorative. Isn’t it amazing how something free and legal can really change your mood for the better? 😆 I bet a lot of humans can relate to wanting out to play and explore these days.

    It’s so cool to be able to witness the lives of these amazing creatures … and also to see you evolving as a writer. It’s really inspiring to me.

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    1. I think you are right about the times allowing for more exploring these days. Oh Monica, I hope when Forrest retires, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to writing and photography. My inner spirit longs to write about all that I experience here.

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  3. As always a moment in your life feels me with a hope for tomorrow. May your holidays be happy, healthy and fun. 💚🎄💚. ❤️🐶🐾❤️

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    1. Thank you, Mamie! Nature always brings us hope, doesn’t it? I hope 2021 brings you and the Chinnies joy, health and all good things. It’s about time for you to have a good luck streak, eh? 🙂

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  4. How marvellous to see them enjoying some cautious freedom. I certainly can relate… we haven’t strayed far since Covid restrictions have been relaxed but we’ve enjoyed the simple pleasures. I loved your childhood story… I enjoy new clothes occasionally but can only cope with limited store-time, so I find it quite relatable. Tg these days we have on-line shopping options.

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    1. You sound like me with shopping. I usually shop early in the morning to avoid crowds, and tend to shop in locations where traffic isn’t crazy. These days though, online shopping works well. I don’t get out much for socializing so I really don’t need much for street clothes. I spend more money now on quality, comfort work clothing (from Duluth Trading Company).

      The deer are practicing “cautious freedom” and I’m glad for that. They also seem to be staying together as a little herd when they’re on these outings.

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  5. They look so beautiful, Deer Mama. You really do get attached to creatures when you care for them. It’s so sweet to see Gracie follow Forrest along. Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us. xx

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    1. Thank you, Ardys. I suppose I go all out, making sure the deer have as natural of an experience as is possible. Even though we don’t spend a lot of time nurturing them as a doe mother would, there is still a bonding relationship. Gracie is the most loving, and she follows Forrest everywhere! The others are more independent. Like humans, each has a different personality. It’s wonderful to watch all of that unfold as they evolve in their journey.

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  6. It must be reassuring for the girls and you that they are their own small group. We are only one day out of our second lockdown and so I could go to Paris yesterday to see my BF. Even though I’m happy in my little country village, it does get a bit boring, so I sympathise with the fawns :).
    Wishing you, Forrest and your animals a safe and happy solstice and holidays, Henrie xxx

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    1. Thank you, Henrie! It’s been pleasing for us to see the girls traveling in a little herd when we go on these outings. We are already learning more about plants that they eat – especially browse that was brought down in the ice storm. We always learn more with each fawn we raise. Thank you for walking this journey with us for so many years. 🙂

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  7. It is enough to make your heart soar watching them. You know what waits, they only a glimpse being explored.
    I bet they were tired! (and you too)
    (We laughed recently when we saw one of those big hay rolls dressed up with antlers, red nose and bright eyes – it was on the NASA grounds where we watch their herd of deer. I should have taken a picture, Burt somehow it would be like intruding on their neighborhood HAHA)

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    1. Ha ha! We see antlered hay rolls around here too.
      The girls are already into a routine, and they’ve already been following a couple of wild fawns around too. Gracie’s been hoofed as there is hair missing in patches, and all four of them have barbed wire cuts on their backs. All normal for exploring fawns. It is exciting to walk with them and watch them on their first outings.

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  8. ❤ ❤ ❤ What a wonderful family you and Forrest make for the deer. I could feel the excitement of them wandering and romping around in their freedom and was happy that they came right back at the end to the safety of their pen.

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    1. They will frequent the pen for food and sometimes rest for a while yet. I can see now though, that they are ready for release. It’s an exciting time, and maybe a little fraught with worry. But I try to remind myself that they are capable and we’ve done the best we know how for them. 🙂

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