After a few minutes I resumed my work as I knew the state’s electrical inspector
was coming to inspect several of the newer outbuildings’ electrical outlets and connections later that morning. With that in mind I had walked down the driveway earlier and had opened our electrical security gate so that he could enter the property without having to stop and enter a temporary pass code. After watching the deer I went back to work hauling and spreading mulch in several wetter areas on the north side of the sanctuary. About twenty minutes later while working in that area I caught some movement in the lower pasture out of the corner of my eye. To my surprise the four young bucks had decided to walk through the open gate, down the driveway and into the lower pasture near where I was working.
Since I did not want to encourage them to stay and munch on the sanctuary’s grasses or apple trees I opened the gate to the lower pasture and told them to “shoo” and pointed toward the upper pasture and the driveway which they had walked down. Hearing the “shoo” the deer quickly lined up and headed back
up towards the upper pasture.
This morning as I was working on some of the wetter areas at the sanctuary (i.e. hauling and spreading mulch on the ground) I noticed four deer eating on blackberry bushes about fifty yards beyond our southern perimeter fence. As I continued to work the deer came closer to the fence paying little or no attention to my work activities. Within a few minutes they were within ten feet of me
and they continued eating the blackberry bushes’ leaves and berries.
As I stopped and watched they became more curious about me but did not run away. One of the young bucks with his prong horns stood within five feet of me and watched me with little or no concern. Another young buck decided to lie down in the grass nearby and watch me as I worked.
In addition to these natural wonders we have various butterflies including west coast ladies, mourning cloaks, swallowtails, various alfalfa and sulfur varieties visiting our wildflowers and flowering plants throughout the spring and summer.
We are truly blessed by the wide variety of animals that live with and
around us here at Joplin’s Sanctuary. At night we are reminded of this as the frogs serenade us to sleep with their melodic croaks.
At Joplin’s we also have a wide range of birds including migratory ducks,
great blue herons, Canada geese, red tailed hawks, and bald eagles that soar above us in the skies almost daily. Our bird houses are inhabited at various times throughout the year by house finches, goldfinches, barn swallows and a variety of sparrows. Robins, stellars jay, and hummingbirds
flit around the property as well. If you are interested we also have brazen downy woodpeckers and flickers who feast along the sanctuary’s river willow trees. Killdeer also build their nests and raise their young on the ground in
and around our pastures. It truly is a bird watchers’ paradise at times.
We also have an abundance of wild rabbits that roam around the perimeter of the sanctuary. They are extremely cute but we also try to curtail their nibbling to the grasses here and NOT into our vegetable or flower garden beds. We also have to be careful in
the early spring when we walk around as baby rabbits have been known to hide in the grass around the sanctuary.
Besides the rescued animals that we have here at the sanctuary we are
blessed with an abundance of wildlife too. At every sunrise we hear a chorus
of songbirds welcome the new day. On most mornings we also have deer grazing in the meadows around the sanctuary and along the river. They
graze on the grasses, wild roses and other greenery that is so abundant here.
In early autumn we see black tailed deer roaming by the perimeter fences, eating blackberry leaves, as well as apples and pears that have fallen onto
the ground from neighboring trees.
But instead of heading directly towards the exit the two bigger bucks decided they needed to explore the newly created “goat climbing mounds” in our unseeded pastures. They each climbed atop one of the hills and the younger bucks quickly followed them as they examined the new structures. Sensing these were fun structures the two older bucks decided to lower their heads, interlock their horns and have a short rutting bout to see who could push who up and down the mounds. After a few minutes of play I decided the deer had had enough fun and they needed to exit the property so that I could go back to work. So I walked up towards the goat mounds and gave them one final “shoo” command and they slowly walked towards the driveway and out the front gate. When I closed the front gate behind them, I watched them slowly wander back over to my neighbor’s yard where they started to munch away on more of the fallen apples.
In reflection, we don’t want the deer to come onto the sanctuary grounds normally, but it had been fun to watch them enjoy some of the sanctuary’s playground and to marvel at their beauty and grace during their short visit.
For the love of