A Close Encounter

Yesterday we had a close encounter with a deer. I walked out on the back deck to play with the dogs and heard the tell-tale squeak of the fence, which meant that a deer had just jumped over it and hit the wire. Usually, no big deal. However, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and realized that a deer was actually caught in the fence. I saw him frantically jerking his leg trying to get free of the fence. I went into panic mode and ran in the house calling for Steve.

I immediately called my next-door neighbor, who’s an outdoorsy kind of guy, and asked his advice. He said he recommended throwing a blanket over the deer if we were going to try and rescue it, simply to protect ourselves from flailing legs. Then he said to call Fish & Wildlife, who would send out a game warden. While I was looking up the number and telling all this to Steve, I realized it was too late in the day to get the game warden out here, and there was simply no time to wait. In the meantime, Steve had donned gloves and hat, grabbed a blanket, and was headed outside (my hero!).

I put my gloves on and followed him. The deer became agitated as we approached and he heard our voices. Several of his family members were standing nearby. At this point, the deer was basically hanging from the fence, jerking his leg occasionally and generally freaking out. I was really worried that he was doing a lot of damage to his leg and we were anxious to get him free. Steve threw the blanket over his head and he immediately went still. Bonus!

We saw that he had caught his foot in one of the wire squares of the game fence and in the course of jumping over had twisted the wire around his hoof really tightly. There’s no way this little guy was going to get free on his own. We fiddled with the fence and luckily his little hoof slid free pretty quickly. I gently lowered his hoof to the ground, trying to make sure his whole leg was in a fairly normal position. It didn’t feel like anything was broken and because the fencing is made from heavy gauge wire it didn’t cut into his skin at all.

We kept him covered with the blanket and he just lay there panting. At this point he was on the other side of the fence from us, so I just kept a hand on him through the holes in the fence. After about a minute he stood up and bolted, taking the blanket with him. The blanket fell off and he took off with his family. He looked to be in okay shape and his leg seemed to be working.

What a relief! If I hadn’t been out back just at that time and seen the deer caught in the fence, we probably never would have noticed him since he was caught in a place that we can’t see from inside the house. A thunderstorm blew in less than an hour later, so he would have hung in the fence all night and died from exposure. I’m so glad we were able to rescue this little teenager. The deer have been hanging out in our pasture a lot recently, so we’ll probably see this guy again.

We took down most of our fencing last year since we don’t have livestock and the fence was constantly being knocked askance by the deer. We didn’t have barbed wire or anything. The fence this deer was caught in is the remaining fence that separates our property from our neighbors property. Nothing like this has happened in the 14 years we’ve lived here. Once a moose got turned around in the back part of our pasture, but he simply kicked the fencing until he made a hole. :-)

We’re glad it all turned out okay…



March in Montana

At last! A buttercup!

The First Real Sign of Spring

If February is the desperate month, March is the hopeful month in Montana. A few days ago, we saw the first buttercup emerge in the pasture. This is always our sign that spring is truly on the horizon. No matter what happens after this sighting, we know spring is on the way.

Snow? Really?

True to form, the weather did a reverse thrust back into winter last night when we got 4 inches of snow. It wasn’t the light and fluffy type that melts quickly the next day. It was the wet, heavy type that you still have to shovel and plow (darn it!). This is March in Montana. Hopes are raised and quickly dashed, only to be raised again the next day. If you don’t like surprises, don’t even think about moving to Montana.

My Life is Rocks

Although my life probably won’t be trees this year, it’s definitely all about rocks. If you have peeked at my gardening blog (link up top on the header) you’ll know that I’m undergoing a major garden bed revision, which includes taking border rocks off, installing new, bigger border rocks and then surrounding each bed with driveway rock that isn’t being used on the driveway (a 4-foot high, 6-foot diameter pile). I’m also going to be building two new garden beds and pounding a bunch of new stakes for an expanded fence. Can you say owie? The one good thing about this type of exercise of shoveling small rocks and moving big rocks with a handtruck is that I’ve developed some baby-sized guns! I hope to turn those into respectable-sized girl guns with a few more months of garden work. I’m lucky I have a live-in chiropractor!

Babies and Burning

The other sign of spring in Montana is that people burn their fields to get rid of excess dry grass before growing season and to clean up fence lines and ditches. It can be disconcerting to drive along and see a whole field on fire, but there is usually someone tending the fire with a rake and/or hose. Sometimes those fires get out of control and the fire department has to step in (we have personal experience with that!). The other thing you see is a lot of black and brown lumps appearing in the cow pastures. The cows start having babies in February and by March they are all over the place. This early in the year, they pretty much lay around unless they are feeding. In a month or two they’ll be walking around more and playing chase with each other.

Buttercups, baby cows, and black fields. Yep, it’s definitely spring in Montana!



Is it spring yet?

The Big Tease

This is the time of year when the slightest rise in temperature makes my heart go pitter-patter with the thought that spring is near. Inevitably, temperatures plummet and hopes are dashed. A lot of Montanans take off for Arizona or Costa Rica about this time of year, but we can’t do that with Steve’s business. It gets even harder in April, when we can get a genuinely warm day, followed by a blizzard. Mountain life is not for the faint of heart.

My Life May Not Be Trees (This Year)

Since we’ve been cutting up and burning construction scrap wood in our woodstove this winter, we’ve only gone through a cord and a half of the split wood stacked in our woodshed. Usually by this time of the winter, we’re starting on our fourth cord of wood. The good news is that Stevo probably won’t have to do much chainsawing this summer. The bad news is that he’ll have to find something else to do for his summer exercise, like mountain biking! Wait….that’s good news too….

The Slow Life

One thing we decided to do when we moved up here was to slow down. We started to drive slower. What’s the point of rushing when there’s no where you have to be? We’re lucky that our businesses are home-based so we can set our own schedule. I used to spend all day running errands when we lived in the big city. Now I “go to town” once a week for the big shopping. Nowadays I get nervous if I actually have to be somewhere at a particular time. Excitement for us is sitting on the porch with our coffee in the morning watching the deer. It’s all a matter of perspective.

The Mighty Huntress

The other sign that it’s almost spring is that our hunting cat, Little Miss, starts hunting again. She spends the winter yowling for me to feed her but once it starts to thaw outside she’s back at it, keeping the house and barn safe from pesky rodents. Right now she’s on a two-a-day schedule, but during the warm months she’ll be up to four or five a day. We’re thinking of putting her in a program. The other day I saw her sitting on the front porch, I walked in the house, and less than two minutes later (literally) she came in the dog door with a mouse. She must have mouse houses scoped out ahead of time and when she gets hungry she stops by one of them for a snack. She’s kind of scary…