"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

March 29, 2011

More Mayhem!

The deer in winter in our front yard: they have come and gone at will but mostly stay near us.
This was the directive I was given yesterday by a reader and friend in one of the comments here: that this blog is not living up to its moniker of providing any farm mayhem! Well, she's right. Truth is, there is a lot of mayhem around here. However, being as visual as I tend to be on my blogs, it often happens so quickly that I don't have time to photograph the excitement. Yesterday, for example.

Emmet on his throne chair on the porch.
A neighbor called, just up the hill from us at the end of our lane: "Your deer is in my yard and it's being chased by a dog!" So off Temple and Eli went in the Honda Pilot. I decided to pile in the other car a few minutes after they left, in case they needed backup––and concerned there might be a shoot-out with the neighbors because their dogs have chased our cattle and killed and eaten some of our calves. Of course, I forgot the camera as I was trying to figure out the best way to cover up the Sunday morning pajamas I had on. [I learned, quickly, that a skirt and cape work wonders.] As I was driving up the lane on the hill by the farm, there was Temple, driving quite slowly, with his hand waving me back. And, sure enough, there was Gertie galloping full speed behind him, the pink bandana tied loosely around her neck a giveaway. I stopped the car, she passed me without noticing, and there was our dog John close behind her. It was a sight and a laugh. Two of our critters barreling down our quiet country lane behind the car: one a deer, one a dog. Not a sight you see everyday.

Gertie, all puffy, in her winter coat. [No, she's not talking––she's chewing her cud.]

Temple had tried to wrangle Gertie into the car but she wouldn't have it (and the deer seem to enjoy the car on those occasions where we've had to fetch them). Instead, as soon as he started to drive away, she followed, so they slowed up to keep an eye on her. John kept behind her down to our driveway but she kept going, on a complete tear into the neighbor's woods, after seeing the cattle in the field. Then John went after her. I'm sure he was with her all night as we didn't see him until the morning. I can't blame him because I say to him every day, "Johnny! Go find the babies!" He knows just what I mean and I know he misses them, too. They often cuddle up together on the hillside or play in the fields and woods by the house.

Gertie and John having a visit on a recent winter's day.
Gertie, one of three deer we have raised and saved from injury in a hay field, jumped out of the pasture around our house several weeks ago when we moved our 100+ cattle so that our pastures could start to grow. Gertie does not like the cattle, even though, and she's apparently forgotten this, she got used to them last fall. Emmet, now almost a yearling, likes Gertie very much and so, at the first opportunity he had, he jumped out, too, after a day spent frantically bleating for her.

John and Emmet, a few minutes after his visit with Gertie.
We've heard about many Gertie and Emmet sightings with neighbors in recent weeks. Despite a few comings and goings here, they seem to find each other and also visit our neighbors or come back to the knob field and try to get in the gate (how they can jump out but not back in is beyond me). For a few days they visited our neighbors just to the north and we figured they were in the small strip of woods between our fence and their house. I know calling them is futile, but I do it any way. I know that most of the time, because deer only keep to about 400 acres of territory, that they hear me. Turns out, deer don't come when they are called unless they feel like it. They are extremely smart. They are wild animals after all.

We miss their presence around the house and it is totally voluntary. Gertie was even away for three months last summer, after jumping ship when the first cattle arrived. But she came back and stayed with us until three weeks ago. We know that they can survive in the wild, and have. Gertie was even seen with another buck last summer and several does (and females usually travel in families of related does).

Gertie, with some of the chickens, cautiously eyeing the cattle last fall.

We're not anti-hunting but we'd be hard pressed to eat venison again. We're also very much in love with these remarkable beings. I'll write more about them on occasion. I know this is an illegal practice but they are not tied, caged or kept here: they easily sail over the fences when they want to (and we have many acres around the house). At the time they were found, two fauns in the middle of our 50 acre knob pasture last May during the first hay cutting and another the year before, we simply could not stand to have them killed by haying equipment. It is our own act of civil disobedience: you can legally hunt a deer and kill it but you can not rescue it from harm's way? Our farm is large enough, as is the neighbors, that they are safe for now––that is, until the fall when the next hunting season begins. [They have bandanas on only so the neighbors know who they are and will not shoot them––also, they are thin enough to rip off in any tussle with a tree branch.]

Hopefully one or both of them will come back to us before then.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Ask/harass and you shall receive - Love it!

    ROFL at the deer riding in the car previously! God knows the critters I've hauled around in a hatchback.

    Always an adventure...down on the farm! Can't wait for more mayhem. <3

  2. Exactly! Something about that squeaky wheel?? ; )

  3. This is so beautiful I could cry! What a wonderful experience you have had and have provided us. Thanks.


  4. I loved this post and awesome picture accompanying it! You don't have to make excuses for your actions here, you are among friends and fellow believers. (My sister, in NH, has a camera in her backyard that captures the deer and moose that frequent. I love fewer things more than when she sends me stills. Destiny

  5. Catherine, there is a children's book in this. "Emmett the Deer" is title enough. I mean, a deer with a bandana... hysterical. This post made my day.


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