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A Persistent Mother
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 by Frank Shortt
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She was one determined Cervidae as she nibbled our ivy contentedly. She would take an occasional mouthful of bear clover (mountain misery) just to let us know that she was also ridding us of a pest. She looked overly swollen, and in fact, she was pregnant.

My son-in-law had given me a tomato plant to see if, during our mountain isolation, we could have some fresh tomatoes in our forced separation from the city and the rest of our family. They all thought it would be better, because of our age, to be in our mountain retreat until the danger had passed. My daughter had told me to place some wire or something deer proof around the plant but I did not listen to her so I paid the price of all know-it-alls! The very next morning after she told me this, I went out to find a denuded plant! I noticed that there were still some little shoots of green on the plant, so I began to water it and nourish it. Presto, it began to thrive, until the present time it now has some buds on it. I figured that the deer needed the nourishment and did not make a big deal over the situation. I went ahead and put some chicken wire around the plant as the mother, doe, was still jumping the lowest part of our deer fence and getting to our other plants. So far, we have no ivy alongside the driveway, and the roses had been eaten down to the nubs. Any other plants, edible to deer, have disappeared.

About a week ago, Sharon and I were doing our evening reading of a book we had chosen for that purpose, when all of a sudden, some movement caught my eye. I looked up and exclaimed, "My goodness"! There in our upper path, inside our deer fence, was the doe and behind her were two beautiful fawns. It was as though she had decided that we were family and she needed to show us what she had produced. Now the problems begin!

How the fawns got into the yard, I cannot begin to conjecture. As I walked outside, the mother went down to her accustomed place and jumped the fence leaving the fawns inside! Yeeks! How was I supposed to get the fawns out to her? When I approached, one went one way and the other went another. I thought that if I herded them back the way they had come originally, they would find the hole and exit that way. Not so! They were too frightened to try and find and exit. They would slam themselves against the fence thinking, I guess, that it would give way, but this, of course, did not happen. They were making the most pitiful cries as they hit the fence. My heart was sore for their plight!

After herding the fawns around, for quite awhile, I finally asked my wife to go down and open the gate leading up to our driveway. With her help we were finally able to herd them out. Alas, they went the opposite way from the way their mother had gone! Now we began to fret because our neighbor had told us that a black bear had been seen in the vicinity of our house, and also that a mountain lion had been spotted. Deer are the natural prey for mountain lions. All we could do was entrust them to their natural instincts to find their mom, or vice-versa! Next day, we saw them running up the hill with mom.

After the first incident I told my wife, "I'll bet those mischievous little imps will be waiting at the gate insisting that I let them out." Next day, I arose at my usual time of around 6am and as habit prevailed, I opened the back shade revealing the upper path! There stood the mother deer, nibbling, of all things, our Rosemary plants. I thought, "Now where could the little rascals be?" I went around to the front window and looked below to the big gate and there they were, waiting for me to let them out. I looked around outside the fence and when I did, my heart began beating fast! There were at least 5 huge bucks, too large for blacktail deer, with huge antlers with the moss still clinging to them, and I was sure they would come right into the fence and demolish it. The herd moved around toward the large gate and I hesitated to open it for fear that I would have my hands completely full. I finally succeeded in shooing them up over the hill behind our house, now, to get the fawns out to their mother! My wife was not up yet, so I had to wing it alone. I was able to get one of the fawns out the gate, but the other one was very persistent in avoiding my advances. The fawn was scared and I was excited, and it had me running back and forth to cut off its insistence in going back up to where the mother waited patiently with the other fawn. Running is not good for a 78 year old man! By the time I was able to herd the last one to the gate, I was exhausted!

Since the last incident, I have reinforced the fence temporarily until I can do some permanent repairs. This morning, Sunday, I opened the shade to see the doe nibbling our Rosemary again but the little ones were outside the fence, thank God! I shooed her down to her exiting place and decided that I will need to raise the height of the fence where she is insisting on coming in. Life in the mountains can be pretty exciting sometimes, especially for us old folks!