Nine days ago, my brother was mowing my lawn for me (long story but basically the grass was very long because things have been crazy here and he was giving me a hand) and then he came in the house to say we had a problem.
The problem was a very tiny fawn hiding in the long grass beside the foundation of my house.
For nine days now, I have watched that fawn from my bedroom two stories above, and worried about it and tried to see if it was breathing and if it was dehydrated and if it was trembling or if it was just doing what little fawns do and keeping nice and still. I've read that fawns who may appear abandoned are not usually abandoned, the mother is just putting them in a safe place and will come back to nurse them several times over a 24-hour period. Sometimes they will leave them for 12-16 hours at a time, because of activity or unusual noise in the area. The mother does that to keep her baby safe, because prey can smell her but they can't smell the fawn because it doesn't have scent glands yet.
But I was still worried.
(Have you ever thought, that Donkey worries a lot? You'd be right if you did.)
I worried because I didn't see the mother around for more than 12 hours. I worried because I could hear the baby calling for its mother from time to time, with no result. Then I worried because I saw a mother and a bigger fawn come into our back yard; both fawns nursed but when the bigger one was done, the mother walked away and didn't let the little one nurse any longer. It was crying and trying to run after her but she ignored it. I imagined the hunger pangs of the tiny fawn and lectured the mother about being an uncaring parent (I did that part from inside the house so she wouldn't actually hear me).
Then I realized that she probably wasn't the mother of the smaller fawn. Their sizes were just too different to have been born at the same time, even assuming the little one was a runt. So I worried that its mother had been killed or had indeed abandoned it. I worried because we were having a lot of heat in the daytime, and a lot of cold at night, and a lot of rain mixed in there too, and every night the little fawn would be curled in a tight circle in its little nest in the tall grass. (I checked every night with a flashlight, briefly, from my bedroom window.)
Seriously, on top of all the other crazy going on here, the stress was really getting to me.
Yesterday, the bigger fawn and its mother were back, and the mom left the big fawn parked beside the smaller one for many hours. Both fawns were in their hiding spots when I went to bed last night. This morning the little fawn was gone and the bigger one was still here. Tonight they are both gone.
I have questions.
Was there ever a second mother? Did the one adult female which was here adopt a fawn that was not her own? Where did the fawns go this evening? Is the tiny one going to be okay? Will I ever know?
Sometimes I truly hate Nature. That usually happens when I am forced to confront the harshness of life for wild animals. They are at the mercy of the weather and predators. An unusually cold night can mean the end of a newborn. Yet we rarely see those things happen, so we go about our lives blissfully unaware.
In other wildlife news, I hadn't seen the local raccoon in a while but then one night there were not one but two raccoons in my yard. One was big and one was little. The little one was cornered up a tree (can you corner someone "up a tree" or only in a corner?) It was squealing in a way that made me think this was not a mating ritual but a genuine fight, likely a fight over territory. In any case, I threw some things in their general direction to make them stop whatever they were doing, and it worked. (Don't worry, I have terrible aim; I was just trying to make enough noise to persuade them move on.) I haven't seen ANY raccoons since, but if I have to be outside at night I try to keep my wits about me, just in case.
Remember I said I had two mice living in the abandoned BBQ on my back deck? One day when my son was visiting, I asked him to help me have a look inside. And by help, I mean I didn't want to be alone when I looked because I was afraid they might have frozen stiff over the winter and then broiled in the hot days we have occasionally had this spring. Imagine our surprise (not) to see the adults AND several babies in there too. At some point we will move their nest into the brush pile at the back of the yard. But I can't stop thinking about those raccoons. A mouse would make a lovely lunch for them. I'm thinking of putting the whole BBQ in the back of the yard (to protect the mice) but the neighbours already take exception to the piles of branches that have been there since the hurricane-like event back in September, so I'm not sure an old BBQ would be popular.
Sometimes I truly hate Nature. Oh, have I already said that??
|I took the first few pictures from ground level but then I smartened up and stayed away. Isn't the height of that grass scary? I told my neighbours about the fawn so they would understand.|
|Taken from two floors up.|
|The same picture as above, just enlarged.|
|And enlarged again.|
|On one of its rare forays around the yard, calling for its mother.|
|Big and little. They look somewhat similar in size from above, but can you see the difference in their leg length? The large one is nearly twice as big as the little one.|
I still haven't had time to try to download the picture of the raccoon. I took it with an old phone, whereas the photos above were taken with my digital camera, which can reliably download but it's getting old and needs charged almost every time I use it.
I hope you're doing well and aren't worrying too much about All The Things like I tend to. If you are, take a few steady breaths and try to clear away all those thoughts for even five minutes. It will help.