We took our first outing with the fawns last Saturday. The girls enjoyed their freedom and finished the day by entering the pen to eat some feed and fresh browse we cut for them. While they were eating, we shut them in for the night and, due to snowy weather, waited another day before allowing them out again. Monday brought a pretty day for a walk and, like the outing before, the girls returned to the pen to feed and settle down, and we once again shut the gates to keep them safe for the night.
The next day, a little more snow fell, making the deer pen a mucky mess. It was too cold and blustery for me to let them out for another walk and we would be gone most of the following day for appointments in Oklahoma City. The girls would just have to wait until Thursday for another outing. But, when we returned from our trip to OKC around 8:30 Wednesday evening, we found that Scout and Gracie had jumped the fence, but appeared to have stayed near the pen. With Scout and Gracie out, Ruthie and Penelope had paced a muddy rut along the fence border, apparently hoping to join their sisters.
Given the situation, the decision before us was apparent, we needed to release them all for good. Normally, we would do this in the morning, but it seemed right to just open the gates that night and allow the girls their freedom together. Later, when I took our little dogs out to do their business for the last time that night, my flashlight spotted four sets of eyes a short distance away. The girls had bedded down together not far from the house.
The next morning, I fed the fawns their usual root vegetables and fruits, and checked the feed in their pen. They had eaten a lot of deer feed in the night, so I knew they had returned to their pen for food and water. They kept close to the house most of the day, and ventured down below the slope in the afternoon. When I went to walk them a while later, I found them bedded down and chewing their cuds not far off in the woods. From there, we managed a two-hour walk together in the warmth of the afternoon sun.
Over the last two days, both Forrest and I have managed short walks with the girls in the woods, through the orchard, and along the slough. Scout is often the leader of the group, following animal trails through the tall grasses, with her nose to the ground. Ruthie is a forager and often lingers in a spot to check out all of the eats available. Penelope is generally on high alert and quite cautious. She is very independent, often on her own path, but not far from the others. She is also a good forager. Gracie usually lags far behind the others. She is easily spooked, and keeps a safe distance from danger, yet stays close enough to the others for safety. Gracie is the nurturer of the group, and the first to initiate mutual grooming with her sisters. She and Penelope often stick together.
As the morning sun rises and I sit in the warmth of the house writing this at my work area, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Hooves just blazed by the window heading west to the slope. Another day of adventure and discovery awaits them, and the crisp, frosty air has them giddy and kicking up their hooves. For me, I will wait until the sun warms the earth a little bit more, but won’t likely be kicking up my heels or even trotting along when I venture outside. I will join the traveling sisterhood for a leisurely walk later, but plan to enjoy a slower, Sunday pace.
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