Food is of course a major concern, but we also think they visit because they like our company. Often we see deer we don't know nibbling in the yard, but nearly everyday some or many of Rose's extended family come by. All of the deer are likely to lay down on the grass and hang out, whether we know them well or not. Many of them know us personally, and while often running into the yard to greet us with their quiet enthusiasm, they will also swiftly shy away from strangers. Although notoriously skittish, able to leap meters in the air in an instant when startled, a few deer we know, most notably Eva and her kids, will let us touch them as if we were family, letting us scratch them or pick something out of their fur. Eva even enjoys a hearty backrub! We've certainly learned a lot about how to act around them so as not to disturb them. We think they appreciate our efforts in fitting into their neighborhood.
Our house was built in the deer's natural habitat in a remote rural area. Well worn deer trails cut through the property's abundant pine and sage. The oldest deer we've met (we call her Mama Rose) walked right up to us when we first arrived, sniffing and looking us over. Rose smelled some almonds in my pocket so I gave her a few. We gave some almonds to her family a few other times but stopped the practice when advised that feeding deer is illegal. Even so, that didn't stop them from regular visits. Rose and her kin obviously think the yard belongs to them as much as anyone else, and they are just taking advantage of the wealth of natural foods growing everywhere. They especially like clover flowers, but it's amazing to see the variety of tasty flowers, leaves, twigs, nuts and berries they'll eat. They stay away from herbs and herbal flowers, but on occasion we've seen young deer eating the sweet medicinal berries of the Juniper tree.
A Deer in the Yard Video . . .
Freddy with his first big antlers
Marlis in the back yard with nine deer from Mama Rose's family
Mama Rose, the matriarch, she taught us the way of the deer,
in winter 2005 she disappeared, passing her throne onto Lisa
Rasa and Eva on the porch
Marlis hanging out with Lisa
two women sharing a secret
Rasa with Eva and her kids
Lisa and Eva looking up to the balcony
young Ram with Marlis
(that's "Ram" - short for the Hindu name "Rama")
Rasa explaining the situation to Rosie
Freddy eating clover flowers
she doesn't care about the Halloween legs or the plastic rat
after the photographer leaves she'll eat one of those pumpkins by the tree
Freddy watches safely from the woods
as Marlis does her 50 laps around the pyramid
Marlis reminds Eva that she met grandson Demian
when they were both quite a bit younger
Rasa giving Charlotta a third eye massage
(when he was very young we thought this guy was female,
but when his velvet antler brow first began to appear,
and we realized our mistake, we decided to leave him as a buck named Charlotta)
Lisa ringing the front door bell with her nose
with 350 degree vision, this deer can see as well as hear Marlis on the phone
Freddy carefully observes a raccoon tackling an apple
talking to Eva about her Mama Rose
Mama Rose on the balcony, Spring 2001
Young Ram practices the nose ritual with Rasa
uh, wait a minute . . .
(please see "More Deer in the Yard" for an explanation of how Ram is not a ram)
Deer in the Yard music from Starseed . . .
Please Note: Feeding deer is illegal in many places.
We do not feed the deer. Please read the text at the top of this page as well as on the "commentary and e-mails" page for discussions of this and other related topics.
An Advisory: Our situation with the deer in our yard appears to be somewhat unusual. We take extreme care in how we interact with an extended deer family we've known for many years.
Please be warned! Deer are majestic and large wild animals that appear docile but can instantly summon tremendous reflexes of strength when they sense a threat. Please use all caution and respect.
Also, deer are known to host blacklegged ticks which in some parts of North America carry the bacterium that produces lyme disease. Contact the CDC for more information.