A Fawn

A few years ago we bought the abandoned house and barn next door. Our old neighbors had a lovely garden, now completely overgrown. In the middle of the field is a clump of peonies, now in bloom, so off I went, with the dog , to cut some for the house.

I bent down, secateurs in hand, and froze:

Right in the middle of the clump was a tiny exquisite fawn:

Our only species of deer here is the White-tailed Deer, and they are giving birth right now. A new-born fawn is around 8lbs, and can’t really stand at first. So the mother takes it to a sheltered spot called a “form”, and leaves it there while she goes off to forage, returning several times a day to feed it. For the first few weeks it stays quite motionless if a threat approaches, and this one didn’t move a muscle as it looked straight at me:

The small dark marks between its eyes and its ears tell me it is a male: those are the spots where the antlers will emerge when it gets older.

My dog, a beagle with a nose like a missile homing device for squirrels, never noticed this fawn (I dragged her away rather fast, of course). There are two reasons for this. First, the young fawn’s scent glands are not yet producing much scent. And secondly, the mother licks it clean after birth to remove any smells that might attract predators, like me and my beagle.

Does often have twins or even triplets. and they then stash them in different places, presumably to decrease the odds of a single predator killing all of them. So this one may have had siblings nearby, but I didn’t go hunting for them.

One was enough to delight me beyond all measure.

The Fawn

by Edna St Vincent Millay (1956)

There it was I saw what I shall never forget 
And never retrieve. 
Monstrous and beautiful to human eyes, hard to 
believe, 
He lay, yet there he lay, 
Asleep on the moss, his head on his polished cleft 
small ebony hoves, 
The child of the doe, the dappled child of the deer. 

Surely his mother had never said, “Lie here

Till I return,” so spotty and plain to see 
On the green moss lay he. 
His eyes had opened; he considered me. 

I would have given more than I care to say 
To thrifty ears, might I have had him for my friend 
One moment only of that forest day: 

Might I have had the acceptance, not the love

Of those clear eyes; 
Might I have been for him in the bough above 
Or the root beneath his forest bed, 
A part of the forest, seen without surprise. 

Was it alarm, or was it the wind of my fear lest he 
depart 
That jerked him to his jointy knees, 
And sent him crashing off, leaping and stumbling 
On his new legs, between the stems of the white 
trees.

8 thoughts on “A Fawn”

  1. What a handsome little guy…so precious. You really do find a lot of wildlife! Was the photo taken with your phone? Or did you take your camera along ‘just in case?’

    Like

  2. Wonderful and wondrous happenings. Glad you didn’t encounter a snorting, galloping furios Mama. They can frightening, as Linda can attest to.

    Like

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