Friday, October 8, 2010

A Very Disturbing and Worrisome Gift!

Today is Daddy's birthday and he would have been 80 years old had he not suddenly died from a heart attack February 13, 2008.  I didn't cry today though I miss him terribly.  Maybe a tear or two watered my eyes, but instead I thought about him alot.  I thought about the life he lived from a child's view, of course!  I thought about how much of him is in me when it comes to the love of the outdoors.  Those thoughts are most comforting and I feel he can see our farm 'happenings' if he chooses.  I thought about the subtle things he taught me which is why I can spot 4 leaf clovers while walking and not even be thinking about them.  I found one the other day.  I found two a couple of months ago.  One time when I was hand grazing Jessie and actually looking for them, I found six!  One of the most important things Daddy emphasized to me was to be observant.   I think I am pretty good compared to most but I know I have missed a lot and need to get better...way better especially after today!


I never see Brownie's twins till August!
The one thing he and I had in common was the love for the Whitetail though for different reasons.  I never thought much about them until we moved to the farm.  He used to hunt deer which was always deplorable to me as child, but he quit decades ago for reasons I never learned.  Of course, I love my deer, name my deer and watch them pretty close each evening.  He used to make gun noises and pretend he was shooting at my bucks while visiting our farm.  Always teasing, always trying to get a rise out of me and of course I reacted exactly the way he wanted! 
Brownie's Nub November 2008
Brownie was my first and favorite deer that I watch; she is probably 4-5 years old now and very dark brown, much more so than the others.  Brownie is calm, sensible, and not skittish like her sister Bossy.  Brownie has had three generations of fawns that I know of.  Twins her first year (my research states this is rare, usually they have a single their first year), twins her second year, and twins her third year.  However, after I have been searching through old photos, Long Horn and Wide Horn always stayed close by and Long Horn looks a lot like Nub so maybe he was her first born!


Brave One and Shy One are both females, both still hang out with her and both had female fawns their first term.  Brave One now has twins and Shy One has one fawn.


Nub and Cocoa are Brownie's second set of twins.  Nub was a buck and Cocoa is a doe who also still hangs around her mother.  Nub is no longer with us and has been killed.  Cocoa gave birth to her first male fawn who is very very shy.   I loved Nub and rescued him from drowning in an old well though he was not tame like Buttons.  Read Defying Death which is a most gripping account of the rescue! 




Buttons and Peanut are her third set of twins.  Buttons allowed me to pet him this summer, a first for me but now I stay away and he has backed off as well.  His rack is very mature like Nub's due to the corn.  I pray he will be safe from the killing season.  Peanut remains very small but is such a cute little doe.  Peanut had a fat stomach this summer which worried me.  Her stomach seemed swollen and I was wondering if she was extra wormy.  She was born last July.  Brownie's eustrus is very late and occurs in January.  It takes about 200 days before the fawns are born.    I also figured maybe Peanut was just a corn hog and prayed it wasn't an illness, and thank heavens I didn't try to deworm her!


For me, gifts can be given in a more spiritual sense.  I believe I recieve all sorts of gifts on this farm.  I am privy to spot the most unusual, the most fleeting, and the most rare.  The ability to be in the right place at the right time and to be in the present moment so that you can see or hear something that is spectacular is extremely rewarding.  One time I was fortunate to look out the window at the right time and see an all white Great Heron.  They are extremely shy birds and usually they are colored with varying shades of blues and grays.  Not this one, it was pure white and yes, it was a heron!  I never saw it again.


I had a riding lesson to give, so I had to bring the horses in around 5pm.  Usually I bring them in at dusk.  It was a spectacular day with a clear blue sky and a bit of a breeze.  I didn't see much on the way, no turtles sunbathing on the old sunken log, no blue birds flitting about, no hawks tag teaming and screeching for a meal, and thankfully no trains, planes or automobiles disturbed the peace and quiet.  Then, while almost to the gate, I saw the most unusual vision and most out of place little 'being' in the middle of the gravel road staring at me.  What the ?  I had just walked down the lane an hour or so prior and saw absolutely nothing...



Willard, can you tell the sex yet?
A three to four week old fawn with star bright spots and a very red coat was staring at me.  What is going on? This is October 7th!  Even Brownie's new twins have faded spots! Dumbfounded, I racked my brain for an answer and came up blank.  It didn't move when I spoke. Why not? That was a big clue that I missed.   I inwardly damned myself for not carrying the camera which was at the barn.  The clock was ticking and I had to get the horses.  Darn...I got Jessie and Blue and feverishly prayed that the baby would still be there because there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.



My prayers were answered!  Brave One and her two twins and Peanut were visible and meandering about. I spotted Cocoa was hidden at the edge of the woods.  Baby fawn was grazing on down against the fence line with not a care in the world while Peanut looked a bit nervous blocking me.  Peanut, I asked, is that you?  She turned away and raised her tail and then I saw my proof....a little bulging 'milk sack'!  OMG! Peanut is the mother!  Peanut who is barely a year old and who got impregnated around 7 months!  How can this be?? I couldn't wait until I could research the 'net.  I wished I could ask Daddy, he would know; I thought of Willard, the author of a blog I follow from Pennsylvania who is a former DNR employee, and to this moment I am hoping he will read my post and educate me .  I did find only one entry online that said it was possible for fawns to be impregnated at 6 months (all the others say 18 months) providing its size was large and the food source was plentiful.  Well, I can vouch for the food source but little Peanut is tiny!  And come to think of it, Peanut has not darted away from the bucks this week.  Bossy runs from them but Cocoa and Peanut have not...hmmmm. Most would say it is too early but no way, not on this farm.  Their coats turned gray earlier this year.  Everything is going to be early I fear which is why I worry about that little fawn....


Where is this baby's winter coat?  It hasn't much time to learn anything and missed a complete semester of Summer school!  No time to put on a lot of fat.  Winter comes early now and can be harsh as last January we didn't see temps go above 32 degrees for the entire month, and this little thing is tiny!  Its neck does look thicker, so maybe it is a boy.  I pray a trespasser doesn't hurt it during the killing season.  I pray no stray dogs find it as they were scarce this summer but one was giving chase this morning driving my dogs absolutely crazy.  And by the way I haven't seen my Brownie nor her twins for about 4 days now...that worries me. She is always there at feed time, maybe she is helping Peanut babysit.  Peanut came down each evening this week, but not Brownie... and they do help eachother babysit, I see that all the time!



So, dear Daddy, Happy Birthday to you.  I can no longer give you material gifts, but maybe seeing this strange little fawn for the first time on the very day of your 80th year is a gift that we can share.  I Love you Daddy, thank you for being my father, and thank for all of your gifts you so generously passed on to me!

16 comments:

Steph said...

There were 2 deer running across the cotton field behind my house last week. Nothing like your deer, but exciting to me! lol

AJ-OAKS said...

I think your Daddy was showing you a gift with the fawn! You have such a warm, loving, caring soul. I wish there were more people like you.

City girl turned Country Girl said...

AMAZING~!! Your story just captivated me! I always love to hear your adventures and see the sweet pictures! What an awesome gift on your daddy's Birthday! I'm sure he is smiling down on you!!

COUNTRY GAL said...

Your story touched my heart ! Your photos are wonderful. It is Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend , two years ago on this day my mum passed away suddenly I understand were your comming from. Our little country cove here is exactly what mum would of wanted for us, mum would of loved , I know she is with us in our hearts and memories ! I have a photo of when I was a little girl laying beside a fawn ! Have great weekend and remember they are always with us !

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

what a magical place you live in. I would love to have those interactions with deer. Loved the photos.

Verde Farm said...

What a special man your dad was and he lives on in you today:) You're right, he is enjoying your farm and watching all the great things that happen there. The special baby is certainly a "blessing" too. I sure hope it will be fine. You could get it and do a stall in your barn for it until it gets a little bigger.
Amy

Kritter Keeper said...

thank you bloggy buddies for your kind comments. they do help cheer me up! and amy, i don't think my little peanut would want that...the baby didn't fear me much as it has heard my voice many times while in the womb since peanut gets quite close and i always talked to her. and btw, saw my brownie tonight! i am very happy about that!

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

Very touching post - well done... and the pictures are fabulous...

Willard said...

Kritter Keeper,

You are more than welcome to link to my blog.

I will have to read up on the scientific literature, but it seems that peanut has proved it is possible to have a fawn at that age, although to be honest I have to say the fawn probably has little change to survive the winter since it was born that late, but still it may surprise us. I have seen two in November that were small and had spots. One was in Cades Cove, the other at Shenandoah National Park, but I have no idea if they survived the winter. I did see a spotted Pennsylvania Elk Calf in late December last year and it seemed to be doing well, so there is some hope.

The deer range in our area is very mountainous and does not have the best quality food. Also the population is very high. Most does here do not have their first fawn until two years and they seldom have twins before three. Fawn mortality is also usually fairly high. All of this is normal for that type of deer range, while circumstances such as you are observing are more likely to occur in top quality range.

We are having a lot of problems now with a person or persons who are driving through the area, shooting deer from the vehicle and in some cases letting them lie where they fall. I have not written in detail about this on my blog as I don't want to make them aware that we are on to the full extent of their depredations. My favorite doe who I can hand-feed had two young does still traveling with her. One was a fawn from 2006 or 2007 and the other from 2008. The 2008 doe was the second deer to vanish. The old doe had twins this year and they were with her most of the time too, but when I returned from photographing elk only one of them was left. It is amazing, the old doe is completely tame to me, but she is very wary of strange vehicles on the road or of strange people, but all she needs to do is make one mistake and it will be all over.

Archery season is in now and blackpowder season comes in next week so I am going to be spending a lot of time with the deer, trying to keep them alive.

It is always a pleasure to correspond with another whitetail enthusiast.

Linda said...

Well, we have something to hope for--that the fawn survives winter! It is refreshing to see your love of the wildlife there--if your dad passed that on to you, he must have been a special person.

My dad hunted, too--he had six kids to feed so took filling the freezer full of food seriously. But he always had and still has a love of nature and animals like I've never seen. When we'd go camping we'd go on hikes and he'd look around and say--I see God! I'd look around and see a bunch of mountains, but now I see God, too.

Rural Rambler said...

Good Morning Kritter Keeper! I am catching up on blogs this morning and this is a beautiful post to start my morning. I love your stories about your deer and I just think Peanut and her fawn will be ok, I am hoping, hoping, hoping! Such a kind heart you have Kritter Keeper.

Sandra said...

I hope they all stay safe. I dread hunting season as well and every time I hear a shot I pray it was a miss.
Thank you for joining my blog - like you I love to read what other animal lovers are up to:) I love love love all animals and I have 2 cats and two turtles, I volunteer at the animal shelter and I sponsor orphaned baby elephants and speak up for them. Unfortunately I don't work with them... I only hope I get to meet them one day. I will be going through your posts ... can't wait to learn more!

Firefly Hill said...

I hope they all stay safe too...and that the fawn survives the winter. Don't you wish you could just bring her inside? I have a mother and twins that come daily to my back door to eat acorns. We have 4 oak trees and lots of acorns! Your tribute to your father made me tear up...life is bittersweet.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Wow, you are the deer lady!

They are beautiful creatures, aren't they? The killing season. That's a good way to put it. I don't like hunting. I don't know how anyone enjoys that. Although I understand we need a way to thin out the herd. I just don't get how anyone LIKES it. One day when I was throwing my trash out, there was a dead deer in the Dumpster with just its antlers cut off. I was so glad I had the camera to document the horror. I won't describe it for you because you are obviously someone who has a tender heart.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading about your love for those deer.

texwisgirl said...

Lovely little baby! I hope it makes it through the winter! Beautiful photos of your deer! :)

Buttons said...

You are a great writer. I like you learned how to love the outdoors from my Dad. He would have been 80 in Dec. 19. I miss him terribly but will always carry him in my heart and enjoy the things he taught me. B