Sisterhood of the Traveling Hooves

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.

I won’t continue to feed the girls root vegetables and fruits for much longer. Penelope was never fond of them and Scout isn’t as interested as she used to be. Soon, spring will bring all sorts of interesting eats for them!
The sisterhood sets out to forage grasses and browse in the yard and pasture.
I often find the girls bedded down in the woods just below the slope. All of our other deer chose the same place to rest and ruminate when they were first released.
Heading to the woods and orchard in the early morning sun!
The willows area is heavily traveled by the local deer. The girls find all sorts of interesting smells and buck rubs along many of the deer paths.
Penelope stops to watch distant traffic on Park road.
The orchard offers good eats, interesting scents, and good cover for the girls to investigate!
Exploring requires noses to the air and the ground.
Ruthie takes a moment to look back while doing some self-grooming. The distant view shows the massive damage from the October ice storm this year.
As with all of our other fawns, the girls enjoy time at the slough.
Scout (already on the distant bank) leads the foursome to the east side of the slough.

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.

We will keep the deer pen open through the spring and summer months, with feed available until we can see they no longer need it at this location. Normally, they begin to eat at the feeders down below, when they are more comfortable in the woodlands.
Unfortunately, the girls seem drawn to the city side of life. Ninth street runs in front of the rock house, and the girls attract passersby on foot or by vehicle. We try to lure them back around to the woods when we find them getting curious.
After a long day exploring, the sisterhood beds down in the downed limbs of the elm grove area in the pasture most every night. This is another benefit our October ice storm provided – bedding shelter for the girls. Here, they have a view of our home, their old pen, the rock house and ninth street, and the woodlands from here. All of our other orphaned fawns have found comfort and safety in this same location.

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.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


26 thoughts on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Hooves

  1. I wish I could come visit and walk with you all. I think I know how the two felt who jumped the fence being cooped up in my house but hey who am I to complain because like they I have good food and a loving family member taking good care of me. I love how you take care of your fur friends. Happy holidays to you and your family. ❤

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    1. Oh, Paulette, a walk in these woods with the fawns would do your heart and spirit good! Forrest or I, and sometimes both of us, walk with the girls each day. We’re learning more about browse that they eat. The ice storm has been a real boon for all deer this year. The downed branches and limbs offer young buds and bark, pods from vine that climbs high in the trees came down providing nutrition for the deer. Warm temperatures are causing all sorts of greens to sprout up too, and ample rain has filled the slough with water for drinking.

      Happy holidays to you and your’s… and all of the critters that we love so dearly (and deerly)!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your posts. They are so insightful. Forgive me if l have missed it but you dont specify how old the fawns are when you release them (I read a handful of you articles). I know it’s after hunting season but l see that most of them have lost their spots, etc. What is their average age when released?

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  2. You seem to have come up with a unique title: “Sisterhood of the Traveling Hooves.” When I searched for that I got no hits. Most of the first hits I did get were for “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” a 2005 movie I’m unaware of but whose title you may have used as the model for your phrase. There’s also a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Bracelets.”

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    1. You guess correctly, it was modeled after the movie about the traveling pants. We’ve called the girls sisters and the word sisterhood has come up many times in conversation, but it was Forrest who came up with the title. It seemed to fit.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anne. I feel that the girls are old enough to be on their own. The restlessness of being in the pen bothered me a lot, so this feels right. I do still worry about the coyote population here. We see several on the game cameras. But, we have also seen many wild fawns in the area so the girls should be able to join them in time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a new stage of life for all of you. I’m sure you will miss them but I know you have raised them well, letting them become their own personalities and feel their own instincts and you can be comforted in that knowledge. I will sure be looking forward to stories of the Traveling Sisterhood’s adventures. Best to you all. xx

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    1. Isn’t that the way of life, that we go through new stages, changes and challenges? We are already getting reports from neighbors about seeing the girls on their property, so they’ve already ventured further than my comfort zone, but they are following instinct so who can argue that? Daisy deer had to show me again and again that she was capable. Perhaps all of this is to help me get over being such a worry wart! Ha ha

      It will be a spring and summer of adventure and storytelling for sure! I’m excited about it! I’m so glad you enjoy traveling along!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you again for all the wonderful photographs. I should have taken some of a wild bunch not to far from my home here in the Netherlands and share them with you…. I forgot…. too happy to be looking at them 😀
    Happy Holidays! Stay safe 🙂

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    1. Hello, Francoise! Sometimes I too get caught up in the moment and do not think to photograph what I see. Sometimes I think the camera does not do justice to the feeling and visual we have in the personal experience. Photographing wildlife can be a real challenge too!
      I hope you are enjoying the holidays and keeping healthy and safe! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope you and Forrest take the time to pause and give yourselves credit for all the love and care that you give to your orphaned animals. You both deserve a star in the sky. Wishing you both a merry Christmas xxx

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    1. Aw, thank you, Henrie. Forrest and I both love what we do, and we enjoy our connection with nature. This care of wildlife and walk with them has truly helped me find peace in my life. Speaking of stars in the sky, as I walked out to open the front gate this morning, the sky was filled with bright stars. I always marvel at how magical this universe is…

      Much love and joy to you, Henrie! Be well and safe!

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  6. What a lovely post to see while I’m recovering from my surgery! I’m so glad that you continue to take in the orphans to feed and shelter them, whilst allowing them to retain their wildness, your stories are a joy to read 🙂

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    1. Hello, Gemma! I had to look at your latest posts! I’m so far behind reading! I hope you are “traveling” along fairly soon, and pain-free too. I’m so glad you enjoy reading about the deer adventures we have here. With Forrest retiring soon, I should have more time to write about our adventures with the wild ones!

      I hope you recuperate well and heal quickly. Enjoy the holidays!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rudi! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the stories so far. We’ve learned a lot over the years of rehabilitating deer (and squirrels and birds!) but mostly we just enjoy being in their presence. They all have such varied personalities!

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  7. How clever are the sisterhood… they are quite camouflaged whrn bedded down among the downed limbs of the elm grove area in the pasture. Looks like it’s empty nest time for you and Forrest, for a while, any way. Take care and all of you have a lovely festive season.

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    1. Thank you, Dale. It looks like a quiet holiday season here. Perhaps there will be good walks with the girls since we will be home for the holidays. I guess we are empty nesters in a sense, though usually fawns stick around the area for several months or a year before they take off on their own. Time will tell. We’ll keep feed and water out for them just in case! Keep well and enjoy the holidays – happiness and adventure to you in the New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. They tell you when they are ready and all grown up. No need lecturing them. They’ve got it.
    I love the picture of Ruthie looking back – that’s sort of sums up the post.
    Will send cautioning thoughts about other humans though – that is a worry, but you know how it is, they are capable and they won’t listen to mom any more! Thanks for sharing their journeys

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    1. I love “they are capable and they won’t listen to mom any more”! It reminds me of the days of long ago with Daisy deer. She showed me again and again that she was capable and it was quite evident she had a mind of her own. I’m not sure much of the human race, at least here in the states, can boast being capable. But, it is a lovely thing to watch the girls evolve and explore. They are “all grown up” and they’re ready to rumble out there in the wild.

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  9. This was a nice sharing of the girls needing their release and it is heartwarming that they choose to stay together. There is both comfort and security in them keeping company with each other. Returning to the pen does that as well I am sure. Have you seen a history of some of them staying together for long periods or do they all eventually go their own way.
    Although I haven’t seen the movie, I thought the title was borrowed from it. You have so many wonderful images of your charges and write so well, I bet you could put something together for a wildlife magazine. Years ago I tried my hand at writing and did a story about birding by ear. It wasn’t popular at that time but times have changed and I imagine most wildlife organizations are now interested in rescue and rehab too.

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    1. The only experience with rehabilitating more than one deer, was in 2016 when we raised Emma and Ronnie deer. They did stay around about a year and a half, when in October they took off during the rut. I have no idea if they remain in the area. Our first deer, Daisy, lived here and raised her young for six years, then disappeared. That didn’t surprise me, since we’d learned over the years that Daisy widely traveled this area about a mile out to the west and especially the north. We have not seen Tukker since the rut began. I do think the rut has a lot to do with the dispersing of the local young deer.

      I would love to write more, and I hope that is what I can make more time for when Forrest retires next month.

      Liked by 1 person

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