Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Home Where the Deer Play

by Pa Rock
Country Gent

The deer are thick in the Ozark woodlands, so thick that they become pests as they munch on gardens, eat green fruit from trees before it has a chance to ripen, and cause traffic accidents when they suddenly jump across our country lanes and busy highways.   But they remain large, brown-eyed, beautiful creatures who add a sense of excitement and charm to the local landscape.

Many people in these parts pay the state for a permit in order to hunt deer.  This area has its fair share of unemployment and poverty, so bagging a deer is no doubt very helpful to some families in meeting their nutritional and survival needs.  Deer hunting occurs in the fall, and about that time deer begin to become scarce, going into hiding until the guns quit firing and arrows stop flying.

The young females that make it through the winter are often pregnant and have their babies in the spring.  That is what is occurring now.  I haven't seen any little fawns yet, but several young mama deer have been scampering around my place.  Although I am not a hunter, I do have a salt lick out close to the pond to attract deer because I enjoy watching them eat and dart about.  There is heavy, tall grass beyond the part of the yard that I keep mowed, and I suspect that is where the fawns hide while their mothers come out for a drink and a lick or two of salt.

Last year I watched in awe for nearly an hour as two young deer played tag in the back yard, often running within just a few feet of the house.

Watching the deer is a very relaxing activity for me.   But for poor Rosie, alas, it is a different matter.  Rosie is still a pup (her first birthday will be July 7th), and these young does are the first deer she has ever seen. She doesn't know what they are, but she is absolute in her certainty that they do not belong on her farm!  Several times over the past couple of weeks I have been surprised and then annoyed when Rosie began barking like crazy from her observation post on the back porch.   The object of her ire was always a deer - usually one standing calmly at the salt lick and not giving any notice to the yappy little dog barking like crazy a hundred yards away.

Thor, my new guard dog, seldom bothers to wake from his numerous and lengthy naps to see what has Rosie so upset.

(Sadly, yesterday two of my young turkeys were killed by predators during the day, and neither dog alerted me to that.   I did see a chicken hawk at one point who may have been the culprit.  As I learned last year, the woods are full of dangerous adversaries for farm birds.  Some will survive and others will not.  Turkeys are not fast thinkers and tend to become sacrifices while the lighter, more sprightly chickens are better able to scamper away to safety.)

But nothing here at Rock's Roost bothers the deer - not even Rosie!

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