Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Our house was built in the deer's natural habitat in a remote rural area. Well worn deer trails cut through the property's abundant pine and sage. The oldest deer we've met (we call her Mama Rose) walked right up to us when we first arrived, sniffing and looking us over. Rose smelled some almonds in my pocket so I gave her a few. We gave some almonds to her family a few other times but stopped the practice when advised that feeding deer is illegal.
Even so, that didn't stop them from regular visits. Rose and her kin obviously think the yard belongs to them as much as anyone else, and they are just taking advantage of the wealth of natural foods growing everywhere. They especially like clover flowers, but it's amazing to see the variety of tasty flowers, leaves, twigs, nuts and berries they'll eat. They stay away from herbs and herbal flowers, but on occasion we've seen young deer eating the sweet medicinal berries of the Juniper tree.
Food is of course a major concern, but we also think they visit because they like our company. Often we see deer we don't know nibbling in the yard, but nearly everyday some or many of Rose's extended family come by. All of the deer are likely to lay down on the grass and hang out, whether we know them well or not. Many of them know us personally, and while often running into the yard to greet us with their quiet enthusiasm, they will also swiftly shy away from strangers.
Although notoriously skittish, able to leap meters in the air in an instant when startled, a few deer we know, most notably Eva and her kids, will let us touch them as if we were family, letting us scratch them or pick something out of their fur. Eva even enjoys a hearty back rub! We've certainly learned a lot about how to act around them so as not to disturb them. We think they appreciate our efforts in fitting into their neighborhood.