I grew up and lived most of my life on the West Coast. I lived in rural northern California as a young mom. Having always considered myself a “city girl”, I developed an appreciation for agriculture, farming and the processing of field crops, we later find on our store’s shelves. That appreciation of country stayed with me, when twenty years later I met my husband. He was retired military and had recently been rated a disability for his post traumatic stress. He had lived in California for several years, both in the military and as a civilian in Orange County area, but he said California was “too brown”. He wanted to move to the “green” of North Carolina. He had been born there, but had not lived there for twenty years. We decided after we married to make a leap of faith and move. I fell in love with the change of seasons, the colors of the trees when fall came, the lushness of spring and summer. I had never seen so many shades of green, nor ever such a brilliant green as when in spring the new grass and leaves have sprouted. I even loved the snow until I was stranded at home in two feet of it and no electricity!
We lived in a huge three bedroom apartment for seven years, but the house on the development called “Evans Ridge” was a dream come true for me. We move into our new home on July 22, 2005. I didn’t even realize until the day of closing that the house was on three acres. After the closing, I remember we went into the empty house for the first time as homeowners and sat on the carpet, looked at each other and started laughing. We never went back to our apartment to sleep. The furniture we had purchased was to be delivered that day…a new sofa, a breakfast table and chairs and a new refrigerator. The sofa was “L” shaped sectional and for that night and the next, we each took a side. The first night, I woke up to hear my husband chuckling…he was standing at the dining room window and I asked him what was so funny. He told me to join him. He pointed out onto the property…a half-acre was cleared for the house and “yard”, the remaining two and one half-acre was left with the woods intact…on the front lawn were two deer eating what little grass was coming up. “They live here” he told me.
I started feeding “our deer” the following year, hoping they would leave my rose bushes and fruit trees I tried to plant alone. They didn’t. I put corn out into the woods, not far from the edge of the lawn and would watch from the bedroom as the deer would gather. Later in the summer, they brought their fawns and we delighted in seeing them romp in the back yard, carefree and unencumbered with the vigilance that their mothers displayed.
I noticed we had a lame doe feeding and being chased away from the feed by other doe. In the weeks that followed, I noticed the doe was missing a hoof, her left hoof. I also noticed, when I inadvertently went outside while they were feeding, she had no problem bolting with the other deer.
In 2006 my husband told me our three-footed doe was pregnant. That summer she brought her twins to feed where she was feeding. The doe with her at the time, we believed to be a daughter from two years before.
I feed racoons, and this year one of the moms had five babies!
The blessing for me is to have wildlife thriving in my woods. It is a wonder to watch the years go by and the deer have babies and then the babies have babies and they all seem to gravitate back to where they know there is food. There have been deer hit by cars over these years and it’s heartbreaking for me to see. Then, I marvel at the strength of our three footed mamas to carry two babies on her three feet and survive. I may not have fruit trees in my acreage, and I had to move the rose bushes closer to the house, but the trade-off is to walk out my back door and see mamas resting on the grass, rise to her feet, and watch me while I leave corn for her.