A sixth sense for what’s around the corner

Published 10:02 am Friday, May 10, 2013

Picking through the last droppings in the third stall of the morning, which, really, is an awful lot like the practice of Zen garden raking, except you have to wear muck boots and sometimes hold your breath, my mind began to wander. Today, my thoughts were in particular, about deer.

Friends had recently mentioned that they couldn’t believe deer have never decimated our roses – over 300 bushes, to be exact – while their half dozen have been eaten to the ground.

“It must be,” I thought, pushing Valentino’s rump out of the way while I tried to fork the last couple of ‘apples’ in the back of his stall, “because we live in such a rural area and are surrounded by so much woodland and orchards that they’re stuffed by the time they get here.”

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But still, I mused, sliding the stall door closed and pulling back the heavily laden wheelbarrow, we rarely see deer at the farm. Wonder why that is?

Checking the barn clock (it whinneys on the hour), I noted it was time to rotate horses in and out of their respective paddocks. I strolled out of the barn towards the small field where the mare met me at the gate agitated, pacing, flagging her tail – horse speak for, “monsters! monsters!”

Clipping the chrome hook of the red nylon lead onto the ring of her halter, I spoke reassuringly and followed her alarmed stare to an excited group of no fewer than six young does, trotting across the field towards us, along the tree line. They reminded me of giggling teenagers: spirited and silly and when they noticed us, the herd stopped so quickly the laggers in the group smacked into the hind ends of those in front who had stepped on the brakes. They crowded next to the fence along the woods and then took their turns, one after another, leaping astonishingly high to clear the 4′ top rail before disappearing into the pines.