Oh, deer!

New fawn

New fawn

I went to my kitchen sink this evening with supper dishes in hand and in a sweet surprise, I saw a very young fawn walking through the front flower beds. It was dwarfed by the cone flowers, black eyed Susan’s, and even the bird bath as it meandered through the flowers, checking everything carefully before skittering out.

Mom and baby

Mom and baby

Fortunately, I had heard this morning that a doe was wandering around with a new baby and I had brought up my camera with the telephoto lens already attached. I ran to the living room to get it and when I got back, the fawn had rejoined its mother.  It skipped about the yard, more I think from the gnats and flies circling it than from playfulness or fear.  I could see quite the swarm flying around both of them.  Mom finally edged her baby back into the woods and I went back to the dishes.

Watching the wildlife

Looking for lunch

I finished the inking on the next picture but I didn’t feel that it was different enough to post, so I thought I’d put up a few of the wildlife photos I mentioned earlier instead.  Here is the coyote hunting for his lunch.  He was quite a big guy and rather blonde and in fact, until I saw his face, I thought he might have been a dog.  He spent quite a bit of time over there looking for mice, voles, moles,  or whatever and finally caught something.

Dining out

He pounced and then lay down with his catch.  I couldn’t tell what he had, but he grabbed at it, tossing his head to get rid of fur it seemed, and then swallowed whatever it was.  He spent about half an hour hunting over the same area, but I didn’t see him catching anything else.  I didn’t see any other coyotes at the time, but we certainly have heard them a lot over the last few weeks.  It is breeding season now so they are singing to themselves, I think.  I am keeping my fingers crossed to see puppies again.

Resting does

A few days earlier I saw several deer out in the back yard and just in the  woods.  The does were resting among the trees and then I saw the young buck move out into the open.  I wonder how he managed to break his antler.  Was he trying to play with the big boys a little to early?  Did he find out who the big boss really was?  I am sure that next year he will be much more skillful.  He was on the large side, so I think he might end up with a nice rack in a few years and join the big boys herd.

Young buck

First signs of fall

As I sit here writing this post, I can here the long-awaited rains hitting the roof above me. Today felt like the coming of fall. Yesterday was in the 90’s and today’s high was barely 70, with low flying cloud cover.  I washed off my horse’s rain sheet and winter blanket in the heat of the day and set them in the sun to dry.  Truth is, I should have done that in the spring when I brought them home, but you know how that goes.  At least I did it before today’s cooler wetter weather set in.  It has been a busy few days with a quick trip to see our son who travelled to Purdue for business.  Four hours of driving for a three hour visit, but well worth it. 

Aceos

I did manage to sneak into the studio for a few hours today.  I didn’t have the time to lay out a new architectural so far this week, so I decided that since I hadn’t done any new aceos in quite a while, I would spend the limited time available doing a few.  I wanted to try a few abstract compositions and the other backgrounds seemed to lend themselves to a floral motif.  These watercolor blanks had a lot of orange and yellow ocher in them and were interesting to work with.  Many of the previous pieces were more red and green in tone.  I may do a few more this week and then list some in my store on Etsy.

Some does and the big buckAnd here is the photo 0f the oddly colored deer that I promised a few posts back.  They are actually that white.  I’m thinking it must be some coat/skin condition.  Even the more normally colored ones had splotches of white on them.  I hope it clears up before winter and is not an indication of some more serious health issue.  And, as you can see, the buck is getting quite a set of antlers.  I’d like to find those in the spring.  Wouldn’t you?

Summer surprise

For the last few weeks I have been seeing quite a few golden finches flying around the front yard. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were suddenly appearing. I haven’t put out bird feeders in quite a while after the squirrel-induced truck burning driveway disaster. I have felt bad about that but the vehicle destruction costs and inconveniences made me not what to entice more squirrels close to the house.

Snacking on the cone flowers

I kept an eye out for them and suddenly realized that a number of them were eating the seeds of the coneflowers.  These are the very same flower beds where I picked a few to paint.  As you can see, they have all pretty much died back.  I am sure that there will be plenty of seeds dispersed for next year’s flowers.  It has been so nice to see the finches right up next to the house.  I know the picture could have been a little more attractively done, but it was hard to get a clear shot through all of the plants from inside the house and this was the best of the lot. 

The other thing I have seen lately is that some of the deer seem to be having an issue with their coats. One time I saw them down at the lake and about half of them looked distinctly grey compared to the normal reddish brown.  Some also had white patches.  I don’t know what the problem is with the fur, but it isn’t very good looking. And one day the flies must have been biting them pretty seriously.  One would be grazing on the shore line or in the water and suddenly jump up and dance around furiously.  It was comical at times, but I sympathize with the discomfort.  I have a photo of them but wordpress isn’t letting me post it correctly.  When I get it fixed, I will add it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Deer stalker – when the deer is the stalker

I have just started a new painting in the studio of blueish flowers but it isn’t very far along , so I thought  I’d share one of the funnier things the wildlife have done out here.  Last Monday, I happened to glance out on the lake and saw a great blue heron perched on a stump out in the shallow end. 

Just minding his own business

He was just relaxing, grooming himself and bending his head and neck down over his body, looking for all the world as if he wanted to take an evening nap, safe out in the middle of the water.  I went and got my camera and took a few shots of him.  I put the camera down because it was slowly getting darker and I wasn’t sure how these would turn out. 

She's so innocent

I happened to glance back a few minutes later and saw a doe walking on the shoreline and  I thought, what a chance to get a picture of the two together.  I took a few more pictures hoping that one might prove passable enough to post and then, once again put down the camera.  Shortly thereafter, I noticed the doe in the water, slowly making her way around the heron.  Then things started to get interesting – for everyone.  The doe began ducking her head under the water and then tossing it about, dancing around and making her way closer and closer to the heron.  He just kept eyeing her placidly, as if he couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.  She made a slow circle around him, getting closer as she went, until finally she got right up to him and then seemed to almost poke him.  In as dignified a fashion as he could manage, he hopped off the stump and headed towards the shore.  She followed and proceeded to chase him back and forth along the shore.  Eventually he made his way back into the water near the stump. 

The deer stalker

She continued to follow and walked behind him all over the shallows too.  This all seemed to be done in slow motion as if she were playing with the heron like she might with her fawn.  No one got too excited and it was just this quiet dance between the two of them.  Finally she tired of teasing him and walked off into the woods.  He resumed his perch on the stump as if nothing had happened.  Sometime later in the deepening dusk, he departed, too.  I felt privileged to see this lovely wildlife vignette and to be able to share it with you.

The sun will come out – maybe

We have strung a few nice days together lately  – or at least parts of days,  We have had some  pleasant mornings into the afternoon before the thunderstorms pop up. I am grateful that we haven’t had the terrible storms and tornados that parts of the rest of the country has seen.  I don’t think there is a building code established that will help a structure withstand a direct hit of a tornado.  I have started on the next work, lining it out and beginning a little of the landscaping.  Not enough to show yet.  I did look at some animals to do but wasn’t drawn to anything in particular, so I just went on with the next Ohio entryway.  This one is definitely a Tudor. 

In the meantime I have been keeping a close lookout for this year’s crop of fawns.  They often start to show up about now and I would love to get some pictures this year.  We did see a herd of deer earlier in the week.  I thought it was all does but when I got out the binoculars to get a closer look at least one was a buck with half-grown antlers in velvet.  I think it was the “big guy”.  The antlers were multi-tined and very fat,  Unfortunately, I was on one floor and the camera was on another.  They were crossing the lake at the shallow end, slopping through the water and then quickly moved into the trees, so no picture.  I will keep a lookout now that I have seen them.  I never realized that the antlers started to grow this early and that is going to be quite a set.

Chinese (?) irises in the yard

I have started to pick flowers from the beds to bring into the house again.  All through the year, my husband gets me a small bunch the first of the month as a year round birthday present.  One year when he asked what I wanted as a gift, I said flowers every month.  He just has to go to the grocery store and spend $5-8 on flowers and I am happy.  In the months that I have blooming flowers like my daffodils, irises and peonies, he gets a break.  Otherwise he finds me some nice carnations or daisies that are long lasting and we are both happy. This is a great gift and not too expensive.  I have told this to a few other women I know and everyone thinks it is a great idea.  No one has done as well as my guy though, from what I hear.  Anyway, right now there is the lovely smell of peonies in the kitchen.  They are from my Grandmother’s or my Great-grandmother’s stock and have to be at least 40-50 years old – maybe up to 80 years if Great-grandma planted them in the twenties.  I just don’t know.  They always make me think of Grandma though and that is nice.

Peonies, an iris, and store carnations

First butterfly of the season

Guess what?  It is raining.  Again.  Thunderstorms overnight and now a misty haze.  Just enough to make outside unpleasantly damp.  We did get a few days of nice weather.  The trees are all coming out and the undergrowth is flourishing.  I was none the less surprised when I looked out of the kitchen window last week and saw a zebra swallowtail.  Then yesterday I saw another.  I have heard that the zebras are rarer than the tiger swallowtails.  I can say that I normally see a lot fewer of them.  Several times last summer I saw a dozen of the tigers at one time on my butterfly bush. Truth in advertising, I guess.  Unfortunately, the bush died because of the cold weather and I will have to replace it.  I really liked the iridescent quality of the one I had and I hope I can find one to match.

And with all of the rain, weeds that I pulled and threw aside have lived and tried to regrow. Darn dandelions are hard to get rid of. I had a pile and they all just continued to bloom and grow.  I now have mounds of growing weeds.  I picked most of them up and threw them farther into the woods.   It is supposed to dry out on Tuesday.  Perhaps then I can plant the flowers I succumbed to buying yesterday when the sun was out.

Mallard pair

The wildlife is flourishing, too.  The lushness of the spring growth is matched by the numbers of animals we have seen.  There have been mallards on the pond in addition to a few species that I can’t identify.  Last year we had a pair 0f grebes (I think).  Unfortunately the babies were eaten by the snapping turtles.  We hope for better this year.  And you won’t believe it but early one morning last week, I saw a coyote walking next to the lake.  I went to get my camera, and in that time a doe walked into the picture.  She trailed the coyote for a while and then eventually caught up with him.  Each knew that the other was there, but no difficulty ensued while I watched.  I actually got the two into one picture frame, but the shutter speed was so low due to the light that they were both blurry.  I am trying to get the photo cleaned up, just like in the crime shows, but don’t know if it is possible.  If it can, I will post it.  I never knows what will be out there when I look.  I am still waiting to catch the tom turkeys displaying.  The spring fawns should be out soon too.

I have almost finished the inking on my latest drawing.  It is a little smaller entryway from house in an historic Indiana town.  Much less imposing but inviting none the less.

Well the weather outside is frightful….But at least we have power

There is nothing at all delightful about this latest winter storm. We didn’t get the worst of it, but it is bad enough for me. We aren’t even sure if the four wheel truck can get us out. We got mostly freezing rain, then sleet, then a little snow. It could be worse – the power could have gone off but the freezing rain was only about .10″. The sleet fortunately didn’t collect on the trees so even when the huge wind gusts came, the trees and power lines weren’t badly affected. I don’t know when it is going to clear off. Not too long I hope.

My doctor’s appointment was cancelled yesterday due to the weather and rescheduled for next week so my recovery is delayed again. I haven’t spent much time in the studio even though I am stuck at home. It’s kind of difficult to sit in my raised studio chair for any length of time and I really need to work for several hours consecutively. I am on the pastel/pencil/watercolor overlay phase now and I have to be able to concentrate on what I am doing to get the color right.  I am so ready for spring. I think that this is the hardest winter we have had in many years. It’s been stormy winter weather every week or so since the beginning of December.

I saw eight of the does and yearlings across the lake today so I thought I’d share something fun. I have always wanted to find a deer antler out in the woods around our home. Our previous house sat in about 50 acres and we often saw bucks and does. Every year I would be out in the woods to look and see if I could find some shed antlers. It is a narrow window to locate them because the rodents chew them up quickly. I know it is like looking for a needle in a haystack and I was never lucky enough to find one.  I  have always been envious of a friend who found a large rack where he put out food for the deer.  Well, last year my husband and I were out looking for morel mushrooms at our new place in the late spring.  We looked and looked and found nary a one.  However, just when we were starting to head back to the house, I saw this thing poking up amid the leaves left over from the fall.  I thought “it couldn’t be this late in the year be but it sure looks like….”  And you know what – it was.  I had found  the end point of a two point antler.  It had only been chewed a little on the end point and at the base.  I brought it home, washed it off with disinfectant and put it on the window ledge in the guest bedroom.  Here it is on a chair for scale. 

With any luck I will be able to get back to my artwork in the next week so please have a little patience.  I have a little bit of a hard time being more creative and dealing with my UT difficulties.  At least I hope you find the wildlife stories interesting too.

The deer antler I found

Feeling better and seeing fourteen deer in the yard

Well, I hope to get back on the regular posting schedule this week. My UT troubles should be resolved soon and life get back get to normal. This is the first time since I had my children that I have had a significant physical issue and I guess that I have been spoiled. I think that it was all due to the calcium supplement my doctor suggested to protect from bone loss. Anyway, while I haven’t spent a lot of time in the studio the last week and a half, I have finished inking and started coloring my next picture. If all goes well I should be able to post it this week.

On the wildlife front, we did see a very large herd of does and yearlings this week. There were fourteen of them in the woods and crossing in front of the lake. That’s about the biggest herd we’ve ever seen here. About half crossed to the other side of the yard but we kept seeing more and more in the woods. After a while some decided to rest just inside the the edge of the trees. I’ve never seen that before -deer resting in sight in the woods. Fortunately, I always keep my trusty camera within reach and I was able to take pictures of them bedding down. In the past, my dog and I have scared up resting bucks while we were out berry picking. I don’t know who was more surprised – the buck, the dog or me.  Definitely an adrenaline moment for everybody.  And funny too as the stag leapt away with brambles hanging from his growing antlers.

Interestingly, we also have been seeing areas in the yard where the deer have pawed away the snow to get down to the grass.  We had a major drought here from August until Oct/Nov.  I think we got less than 2 inches of rain total and I don’t know how that affected the browse that deer normally eat.  We have consistantly seen this all winter when the snow has covered the ground, which has been too often IMHO.  Let’s vote that Puxetawny Phil doesn’t see the sun, even if we have to give him blindfolds. 

A few of the deer and yearlings

 

Does bedded down

 

Pawing through the snow to the grass

The buck doesn’t stop here, but his girlfriends do.

I was just starting supper tonight when my husband said there were deer out in the back yard. I hoped it was the buck but it was only two does. They came up to within 50 feet of the house, so I took my camera and put it up to the glass to minimize the glare of the flash. It worked well enough to do that. I lightened the picture some so the does could be seen more easily. Sometimes we have seen herds of a dozen or more. The wildlife has been somewhat scarce the last two months. Perhaps the cold and snow have them in hiding. They’ll probably appreciate better weather just as much as I will. And they don’t have to drive in it.

I finished my latest drawing but want to try for better light for the photos. It has been so dark and bleak during the day lately and I really don’t want to take my artwork out in the snow. Ditto for the camera in the extreme cold. Maybe tomorrow.

Two does