Sunday, December 20, 2009

Deer family values

Kermit might have complained that, to quote the frog, "it's not easy being green," but this afternoon I saw that it's not easy being a half-year-old deer either.

A doe and two youngsters spent much the afternoon lazing around my backyard. Most of the time they nested in the snow, legs curled under their bodies, doing some digestive chewing. Occasionally they'd get up, use their right front leg to move snow, and munch grass that had to be a lot less juicy than the late-spring grass of the youngsters' birth in June. Usually the two young deer would stick together, within inches, apparently bonded.

Eventually, mom decided to leap my front fence and move on. The two kids were sitting in the snow, and watched her go. Soon they got up, pushed some more snow around, munched a little more, and started getting restless.

One of the young deer drifted toward the fence, backed up a little, and suddenly leaped it - escaping the confines of my back yard into a larger world in which its mother roamed, somewhere nearby.

The other young deer, slightly smaller than the first, was clearly stalling. It made a couple of half-hearted approaches to the fence, but no jump was in the cards. It pushed some more snow around, ate some more winter grass, bunched itself up for a little bladder release, eyed the fence with what looked to me like a certain amount of trepidation, and ended up moving away into the center of my back yard for some more snow pushing. Then, suddenly, it started a run at the fence ... but it quickly stopped, and started moving some more snow around. It returned into the center of the back yard.

Then, with unmistakable determination, it charged the fence, leaped it with ease, crossed the street, and rejoined its family in my neighbor's front yard.

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