Oh, Deer!

“There is a deer coming down the trail from the barn,” the Bearded One says from the living room window.  “Very slowly.”  He whispers.  “It’s a doe.”  I can hardly believe what he’s said.  We’ve lived here 5 years and have seen exactly one deer on the property, and that was years ago, a buck.  Our dog Ruby and the garden fencing keep them out.  But they are everywhere in the area.  We see them on our walks all the time — just not here.  Why is this one here now?

“It’s stopped at the root cellar,” the Bearded One says.  I can hear the excitement in his voice.  I race out of the kitchen where we have been making fruitcake all morning.  They are finally in the oven and the house smells of warm brandy, molasses, spices and dried fruit.  Sadly, the Bearded One does not like fruitcake, but he still helps.

Everything you need to make Tom Lester's Fruitcake, a recipe my mother got decades ago from the Houston Chronicle. Mr. Lester was an editor there, and the newspaper still publishes the recipe each Christmas. The bowl is full of figs, dates, raisins, dried peaches soaked in brandy and candied grapefruit and orange peel -- which I also made and which makes the fruitcake, if you ask me.

“I’ll get the camera!”  We are both whispering urgently and acting like a Martian has just landed in our backyard.

“It’s walking toward the fence.”  The Bearded One doesn’t take his eyes off the doe as I put the camera in his hand.  “It’s behind the hoop house now,” he says.  “I can’t see it.”

I jump onto the couch which is still conveniently located against the window wall after our Thanksgiving shindig.  I put one foot on the arm of the couch, hoist myself up to the highest point of the window, and I can just see the doe’s head over the hoop house, her lovely large ears and wide eyes.  I think she sees me, too.  “She’s walking along the fence,” I report from on high.  “She’s wagging her tail at me!”

The Bearded One is out the door.  I watch him avoid attracting Ruby’s attention — she is asleep under the house — and tiptoe around the right end of the hoop house.  He disappears and so does the doe.  I can smell the fruitcake in the oven.

Fruitcake lasts so long because of the brandy, which is a preservative. Douse them several times (dribble 1 tablespoon at a time over the top) and they'll last 2-3 months, and can last much longer. The queen of preserved food.

“I don’t think I got her.”  The Bearded One is back.  “The camera does weird things with the lighting in the woods.”  Our camera has to stop and think about the shot for a while after you push the button.  I plug the camera into our computer and the doe appears.

The Bearded One is as good as a critter cam.

He had another photo all set up, he tells me, but just then a chicken argument broke out and the doe ran for her life.  The two camps — Kimber and the Seven Chicks vs. The Five — continue as sworn enemies, except for Marilyn and Spot, who are peacemakers.  Steve still raids The Five regularly.  He is the self-appointed sheriff of the chickens.  “Move along, move along,” he squawks whenever they congregate.

Skirmishes break out periodically and they fly all the way around the coop, inside the aviary.  It’s quite a rush.  The doe probably wouldn’t have ventured into the pasture if Thanksgiving hadn’t delayed our fence line repairs and chicken wing clipping.

The second photo of the doe appears on the computer screen.  She is back further in the woods, leaving the area but looking back.  Her eyes glow from the flash, and I gasp when I see it.  Now she really does look like a Martian.

“That’s so cool,” I say.  “Like one of Santa’s reindeer.”  I breathe in the fruitcake and kiss him.  “Probably Vixen, don’t you think?  With her eyes so bright?”

“Sent to check out the place.  See if we needed anything this year.”  He kisses me back.  “Nope, not a thing.”


4 responses to “Oh, Deer!

  1. Oh deer, that was delightful!!!!! LOVED the sheriff chicken! Made me chuckle…love your writing…

  2. Christine Widman

    I think it’s definitely one of Santa’s reindeer checking to see if you’ve been naughty or nice.
    From the looks of those dice rolling chickens (an lol lol for me, by the way!) & with those little brandy scented kisses, if it’s Vixen caught in your flash, she may tell on you.
    Tonight begins our December holiday movies.
    Moonstruck is always the first one.
    Did you see that “Bella Luna” last night?
    Here in our exceptionally cold desert December, it was certainly one to steal a kiss or two under.
    Sending kisses to you,

  3. Christine Widman

    Just finished my monthly “joy to my world” re-reading of last year’s corresponding month blog entry.
    This morning we spotted an adult coyote walking the property. Always a thrill.
    And when we hike, seeing deer always creates a heart leap.
    I thought you would appreciate this quote from Eating Stone by Ellen Meloy:
    “Homo sapiens have left themselves few places & scant ways to witness other species in their own world, an estrangement that leaves us hungry & lonely. In this famished state, it is no wonder when we do finally encounter wild animals, we are quite surprised by the sheer ‘truth’ of them.”
    Thank you again for the verbal and visual and art drawings of life on your farmlet.
    A “gift” to treasure!

    • Wow, Christine, what a wonderful quote. Removal from the wild is an estrangement of our full souls, I agree, and I can feel the heart leap you speak of. Thank you, and may both of us see many wild animals in the coming years. All my love, Christi

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