Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sweetheart The Deer Makes It Through

Sweetheart the deer first showed up at our back door last summer, a motherless fawn so tiny that he could hardly hold up his ears. I don't know what happened to his mother; perhaps she was hit by a car. Sweetheart (as I soon named him) seemed unlikely to survive on his own, and the larger deer in the neighborhood were soon bullying him and trying to run him off. He would stand there in the middle of the yard all alone, long wobbly legs akimbo, and with his ears held down, not knowing where to go or what to do. Sweet corn and a ripe red apple made things a little better, but things really looked up when one of the does, who already had two slightly older fawns of her own (shown in the middle picture), took Sweetheart into her fold, and protected him. Sweetheart and his new family were then a regular fixture in our woods all summer, growing strong and healthy on the rich green grass, with long afternoon naps on the high hillside where the cool breezes blew.
This winter was a new challenge, as a thick layer of ice was soon laid across the landscape, followed by several feet of snow, which never melted. In past brutal winters like this, the deer grew gaunt and weak, tottering about through the ice and snow, continually and ever more desperately searching for food, like so many wan ghosts. I decided I couldn't watch this happen this winter (never start naming your deer) so have been putting out some corn every day.
This week we finally seem to be coming out of the other side of winter. Sweetheart (shown at bottom between his two step-sisters), has made it. Thick-furred, larger, and darker now than his sisters, he will soon be frisking through his first spring, full of promise and adventure. Living with and in nature can be frustrating (there is no tree or shrub that is truly deer-proof anymore and the four foot long prairie kingsnake that hunts toads at night on our front stoop tends to discourage visitors); it can be expensive (the property taxes on our land have tripled as enormous houses with four car garages crowd in around us); but above all it is a joy... and a privilege.

Posted by Picasa

I find myself waiting for your blog comments every day! Isee you are not only a master gardener but a man who cares for all living creatures....even those who want to munch on our "pretty' be 72 here in Missouri today and I am going to cut my roses you think it is too early to fertilize the roses and hydrangeas?
This was such a bad winter I let the deer munch on my Yew hedge. I'm glad your little "Sweetheart" made it through.
That's a sweet story with a happy ending! How kind of you to feed them. Hopefully they returned the favor by eating less of your landscape over the winter!
Nancy... thanks; that's sweet. as to fertilizing, i guess it depends how far south you are. If you're not going to get any more freezes, fertilize away.

MMD... It's funny how yews are supposed to be poisonous.

lintys... they've eaten my landscaping years ago. Everything edible is now fenced in.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?