The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Wanted: Momma Deer

June 4th, 2013 · 8 Comments · Posted in Blog

You never know what's going to turn up

You never know what’s going to turn up

This post originally was going to be about trying to eradicate the milkweed from our upper pasture. But I was swinging away at the weeds with my scythe when I uncovered this little ball of fur, curled up fast asleep in the tall grass. The fawn couldn’t have been more than a couple of days old. I probably should of just left it where I found it. But I wasn’t sure. So I scooped it up and took it back into the house to collect my thoughts.

I could feel the fawn’s heart pounding in my hand. It was so skinny, hardly anything but fur and bones and legs all akimbo. I sat in front of the computer and snapped a few photos. The fawn fell asleep in my arms. Until a certain cat–Mr. O’Malley–sauntered over to see what was going on. He made like he was going to jump into my lap, placing his paws on my knee. But then he got a look at the fawn who was already occupying that spot. The cat’s eyes grew wide. The fawn awoke with a squeal. Mr. O’Malley flew out of the room with pants on fire.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always run across baby animals. I was the one who collected frogs and snakes and butterflies. I practically lived in the woods behind our house. We used to find baby rabbits in the fields nearby. We’d take them home and try to nurse them, but they always died within a few days.

In the fifth grade, I ventured into the forest preserve with a friend looking for Indian burial mounds. What we dug up was a nest containing three baby chipmunks. They were so little, their eyes were still closed. I gave one to my friend, who lost it in the hole in his pocket–until the stench gave it away. The other two I fed milk with an eyedropper, night and day every four hours. They lived to adulthood–scampering around the house, up your pants leg, perching on your shoulder–until somebody left their cage door unlocked and they drowned in the basement sump pump.

Stray animals always seem to come to a bad end.

So after considering my options (call animal control? rush to the store for Similac?), I decided the fawn’s chances of survival were better back where I’d found him. He didn’t want to stay with me anyway, judging from the squealing and the squirming. So I returned him to the pasture and he wandered off on his wobbly legs.

Ever since we finished our electric perimeter fence we haven’t seen the herds of deer that used to graze outside our kitchen window. But we have seen a lone doe occasionally wandering around the upper pasture. We thought maybe it had gotten trapped inside the fence. But now I’m thinking, maybe that was the momma deer, looking for a place to have her fawn.

I hope they find each other again. Silly me for interfering.

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  • Celia

    Phew! you put it back for it’s mum to find… I was shouting at my computer: Ed, don’t touch the little fawn!!!!

    Hope they are reunited.

  • Ed Bruske

    Yes, Celia, I put the fawn back where I found it. I was conflicted. Many thoughts ran through my mind when I found it originally. If it was abandoned, I was afraid if I left it there I wouldn’t be able to find it again if I moved from that spot. But I couldn’t just stand there. So I took it into the house until I had a chance to think everything through. Returning it seemed the only thing to do. There was a doe grazing on the edge of that field this morning. Perhaps that’s the mom.

  • Diana Dyer

    That has happened on our farm, too, plus many of my friends. I still use a photo of a new-born fawn born in our tall grass as the screensaver on my computer. I did not see the reunion, but I saw the mom and baby together as it grew up strolling through our farm together for a full year. I’m guessing that the momma deer was somewhere looking at me looking at its fawn, silently screaming to the baby “Don’t move, keep your head down, don’t look, I’ll be right back.” and to me “Don’t touch, don’t touch, don’t touch, I’ll be right back.” I didn’t know what to do the first time it happened on our farm either, Ed, but leaving it alone seemed to be the right thing. Glad you put it back where you found it. Good luck!

  • Ed Bruske

    I wasn’t sure what to do when I discovered the fawn lying there, Diana. I could have taken its head off with my scythe, and we are planning to have this pasture mowed very soon. So I don’t consider where the fawn was to be particularly safe. Subsequently we did some reading on the subject and see that the best policy almost always is just to leave the fawn alone. We’ll know better next time.

  • martha thompson

    Tiptoe away as if you never saw it. What to do upon encounter with curled up fawn. Good luck

  • Diane

    Perry found one in our fenced-in wooded yard, Ed. They tried to catch it but couldn’t. Even though the yard was fenced, it somehow got out and was reunited with its mom! Amazing!

  • Ed Bruske

    Diane, at the far end of our property near the fence we have a cluster of trees that the previous owner used as his dump. (Wherever you see three or more trees around here, that’s where the dump goes.) This morning I flushed a doe out of their. I’m betting that’s where she has her nest now and her fawn. It’s the only place to hide on the property.

    And in case you’re wondering, she easily bounded over our 5-foot electrified fence to disappear into the woods.

  • Diana Dyer

    What a great event for your first year on your new farm! Hopefully you’ll see both the fawn and momma strolling through your farm during the upcoming year like we did. We have not had one born in our unmowed grass since, but I keep looking. Now I worry about all kinds of things (like new-born fawns, turtles, bunnies not quite fast enough, etc) every time we finally mow using the brushhog.