Wednesday 21 June 2023

The Wild Things - Part 3

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??


Fawn pictures!

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.




Andrew said...

Yes, nature is cruel but we are told to not interfere. Baby deer (calf?), yes of course, fawn, looks very sweet. The spots on the older one are more faded too.

gz said...

It does help.
Nature can be hard to understand. But again she helps us when we take a walk or just sit

Elephant's Child said...

I am also a worrier. Bit time. I am so glad that you saw both fawns together and that they are now gone. And hope that surrogate mama can look after both of them.
I think I would have been beside myself with worry.
Nature (while often beautiful) is also often harsher than my wimpy self is comfortable with.

dinthebeast said...

When my dad was a surveyor for the Forest Service, he once brought home a fawn he found without a mother (I think he knew she had been killed) but the fawn got sick and didn't live more than a week. We called him "Ears" and buried him down by the creek.
The cat murdered a flying squirrel. I was surprised that he could catch one because he has put on some weight over the long, snowed in winter and spring, but there it was, right outside the door, so his hunting skills seem to be intact.
Fawns are weird looking until you see them in the dry grass where they naturally hide, then they are so well camouflaged that I almost stepped on one once while walking through the forest.
Hope you are doing well.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

I am a worryer like you. My SO often say I am the arctypical Marshwiggle ;)
Your last advice is sound. I'll try to remember it.
And It is nice to hear about the wildlife around you. I hope the fawns and the doe all survive.

jabblog said...

Oh, I do understand you and would feel just the same. Not knowing what has happened is awful but 'Nature has her ways' and 'It's all for the best' and other useless cliches carry us past these moments.
I worry if I'm not worrying . . . though not as much as I used to. You've just inspired a blog post - thank you!

crafty cat corner said...

First, how lucky to be witness to such a beautiful creature.
As for worrying about nature you have a friend here who is the same.
I trod on a mating snail in my little garden the other day and felt guilty for the rest of the day. I literally can't kill anything and even avoid stepping on an ant if I can. Maybe I was a buddhist in my last life, lol

Red said...

Great story of the fawn. People find it difficult to leave fawns where they are . You did the right thing. You also had a very unique experience.

Steve Reed said...

I completely understand your worry. I would feel the same way. But at the same time, you did the right thing letting nature take its course. Animals know what they are doing. I suspect the doe is mother to both fawns -- I'm not sure she'd have let it nurse if it wasn't hers. (But I am not a deer expert!)

I think those mice will be ready to move out of your barbeque pretty quickly. I can't imagine it takes baby mice long to mature.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: You're right but it's so HARD not to interfere!! Wah, wah, wah

gz: You are right, I have so often found comfort in other parts of nature. I know hate is a strong word but worrying about that fawn left me wrung out!

Elephant's Child: You are also right - nature can be beautiful. I'm glad I'm not the only worrier, though. I feel less alone.

Doug: It must have been hard to watch the fawn decline and die. They really do blend in so well. My brother said he was right beside it before he saw it. Dang, your cat must be still pretty agile - or the squirrel was a youngster and not wise to the threat. Nature once again - sometimes I'd really like to not have to worry so much :)

Charlotte: At least I'm not alone in my worry! I have just looked up Marsh-wiggle - I have never read that series but I can sure identify with that label :)

jabblog: Cliches are cliches for a reason, aren't they? Universal attempts to summarize wisdom that can help us, much of the time :) Looking forward to your post!

Briony: I'm so glad I'm not alone but it is hard on the head to worry so much, isn't it? I do the ant and bug avoidance as well. If they're in the house I trap and release :)

Red: It really is amazing to see a little of nature up close like that. I feel very lucky indeed.

Steve: I'm hoping the mice will decide to move all on their own and I can avoid feeling like a bad landlord :) I agree that nature's creatures often know what they're doing but sometimes things go awry. I live in an urban area and deer regularly get hit crossing the streets, so that was my first thought when the fawn was left alone for so long. It is SO tiny compared to the other one. I hope it is okay.

Marie Smith said...

You have a wildlife sanctuary at your house, Jenny! The animals keep you busy for sure. I can understand you worrying about the fawns though. Hope they are both ok.

Jennifer said...

At least the other mother deer let the little one nurse some. Hopefully she's caring for both now. We have a momma deer and two fawns in our neighborhood at the moment. The mother is almost (but not quite) tame from living close to people for so long. (We're very close to a creek so we see lots of wildlife).

kylie said...

The mumma of that fawn is looking after it (whoever she is) No newborn would survive 9 days without care. I understand your concern though, it's so cuuute! oh my ovaries

jenny_o said...

Marie: If worrying was a paying job, I'd be rich, RICH I tell you :)

Jennifer: That's what I'm hoping too. The fact that the fawn lived that long and looked fine meant it was getting meals from somewhere, I guess! The deer here are like yours - very used to people.

kylie: Yes, that's what I eventually concluded, too, but the early days in those nine days were full of not knowing what would explode first, my head or my heart - I was just on edge all the time :) lol at your last sentence!

messymimi said...

Life is so much better for us in this century and this part of the world we forget how difficult and dangerous life really is, it's as if we are sheltered from most of it, and we are.

All you can do in this case is hope for the best.

Infidel753 said...

I hope you won't get too stressed over things like this. You have enough other things to be worrying about. Nature is uncaring and random, and animals are dying miserable deaths all around us all the time, as we ourselves generally did, before civilization. There are just a few cases like this where it comes to our attention. In many cases it's really impossible to improve things. Saving an animal from a predator saves that animal, but if you did it for ever animal, the predators would starve. If every animal that would die from cold or being eaten were saved, their numbers would quickly outstrip their food supply (since they can't use technology to continuously increase it the way we can), and they'd starve. It's natural to feel sympathy, but where wild animals are concerned, sometimes we have to accept that there's not much we can do, and that what help we can offer is better directed elsewhere.

DB Stewart said...

Worried now too. But don't worry, ok?

River said...

I'm choosing to believe the mother adopted the smaller one, I think perhaps she left her baby with it while she searched for the missing mother, then came back for both of them.

jenny_o said...

Mimi: You are so right. We are not used to seeing the hard side.

Infidel753: Correct. But can't drill it into my head some days :)

DBStewart: Pot/kettle ... lol

River: I think that may actually be possible, at least parts of it :)

Mr. Shife said...

There's an Instagram account called Nature is Metal that reminds you how unforgiving nature can really be. I hope you are not worrying yourself too much because you already have enough on your plate. Take care and keep on doing those breathing exercises. Take care, jenny_o.

jenny_o said...

Mr. Shife: Somehow I don't think I will investigate Nature is Metal :) I am trying my best to take care. You, too, Mr. S, and thank you.

baili said...

What a wonderful and interesting story dear Jenny !
You made me felt living there among all the creatures.
I think mother adopted the smaller one but lacked generosity to feed him as well.
I have read some amazing stories of mammal animals who adopted totally stranger baby animal .so we can say the mother 'instinct is stronger in animals as well. But we observe the opposite too and often.
After the birth of children animals move to other place. I saw ts and birds doing so in season.
Hope Raccoon won't bother you again.
And so the mice :)
I am happy your brother came to help you with mowing.
Hugs dear friend!

jenny_o said...

baili: Someone told me that deer can have fawns of very different sizes so maybe the smaller fawn belonged to this mother. It's impossible to say! But both fawns are doing well - I posted today with an update and pictures/videos. The raccoon has not been back, thankfully :) Yes, I appreciate my brother's help so much. Hugs to you, too!