It’s “First Day” You mothers out there get the first day of school. This is the first day out for the fawns. The problem is that I send my children out to play in traffic and with coyotes and dogs and men with guns and arrows. The gates have been lowered for 6 days now, but the fawns have not paid attention till yesterday evening. As I left for class, I saw all four of them in the neighbors yard. My mind was on them all through Kung Fu and I’m lucky I didn’t get kicked in the head from the distraction.
I didn’t expect them to be home when I returned, and knew I would spend a sleepless night. That first night when I know they are not in the safety of the yard is always the longest night of the year. I constantly jump at the least noise and go to check if they are home. I wake up bleary eyed and stagger to the back door and call hoping that they will come all well and whole.
But when I went to the back yard and called, four pairs of glowing eyes shown in the light. I called again and they all came running for their bottles. We had never seen them so eager and hungry. I checked them all over and the worst I could find were tails full of burrs and muddy coats. They happily returned to their favorite bedding spot in the back yard.
This morning I called and only Princess came. She is used to hanging around the house while I make breakfast and will often share it with me. This morning, she only wanted her bottle and was back over the fence to find the others.
Remember the commercial “Do you know where your children are?” I don’t know where my children are. They are out of my sight and out of my control for the first time since they came as helpless babies in the spring. How fast the summer has gone! The beautiful spots that helped me identify each by their pattern are now fading and sleek brown coats replace them. There are tiny bumps of the bucks heads and the little girls have taken on the look of the graceful does they will become.
My rambunctious group of babies have grown into teenagers and the last thing they want is a human mother following them around. The time has come to give them back to nature and let them find their way.
I suspect that Nosy or Midge will be the first to totally disappear. They bonded the least with me and will hopefully join with a group of other does and their fawns. These surrogate mothers will be able to teach them the ways of the wild far better than I. Most of them will be does that I have raised in the past and seem more eager than the wild born to take them in. If I am lucky, I will catch glimpses of them in the following weeks.
Prince and princess, I expect to return for their bottles much longer. Princess, especially. She was the first and bonded the strongest with me. She likes to come into the house and visit and NEVER misses a meal or treat. Prince, is bonded to Princess, so he tolerates me and will sometimes come for affection. Often I have one or two of the deer come to the door for bottles or treats through November.
But the day will come when I go to the door and call “Babies!” and no one will come. I’ll put away the bottles. The basket of apples and peppermints by the door will be moved and the house will be quiet. I get very few animals in during the winter and since they are adults, there often little I can do, but ease their final hours. This is the time for taking in lost dogs and small animals that are no longer wanted or able to be kept their owners. Christmas will come and go and the deep sleep will be upon the land.
The first signs of spring will be the change in the trees that lets me know it is time to set the taps for maple syrup. The snow will melt into dirty piles and spots of green will peek through the dead grass. I’ll start stocking up on formulas, bottles, and baby shampoo. By March and April the studio will be filled with cages of squirrels and people will be begging me to take raccoons. The first fawn will come in mid May and the cycle will begin again.