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Jude and her friends

I thought I'd share something more about myself this month. Living close to the woods, we get a lot of wildlife in the area, in my yard—heck, on my deck—and I love it. For years we had a big garden and ducks, geese and chickens, so it was pretty much impossible to enjoy the wildlife as I can now.
About three years ago, we had a really hard winter, with about four feet of snow, that lasted and lasted, which caused a great hardship on the local deer. We'd see them in the evening just as it got dark. Two or three at a time would come and eat the leaves off the Laurel hedge. As the snow got deeper, they had more trouble getting around and both hubby and myself got really concerned for a couple of the younger ones. The fawns from the summer before couldn't even get through the snow without it being broken first.

One evening, we talked and then we phoned a good friend of ours, the local game warden. We asked if there was any way we could feed the deer, and if so, what should we feed them. He hummed and hawed for a few minutes, but then he told us we could, as long as we didn't intend to bait them for hunting later. That's illegal here and we'd never dream of doing it. Hubby and I were overjoyed that he'd given us permission, and he'd told us what to feed them. This first picture is of a doe who we feel we saved that first year.

Of course when the fawns showed up in the spring, we couldn't stop feeding them. The reason, well the does needed all the nourishment they could get to fatten themselves and their babes up for the coming winter. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's nature and natural selection is a necessity. I agree with you, up to a point. We've taken so much of their habitat, it's getting difficult for them to find a place of their own, so they come into the human populated areas, and starve. Okay, so I'm going to play momma nature and help as much as I can.

These two, they came that fall. They'd lost their mother at some point over the summer but had managed to do pretty well for themselves. When they found us, they were a lot slimmer and had much less hair. Aren't they adorable. They're just getting their winter coats, so look a lil on the shaggy side.

That winter was another tough one. We lost three fawns that year, two died in the yard, one right outside our front door. It was heartbreaking, but there's only so much we can do. I tell myself that, and it doesn't help one bit. It's amazing to sit and watch them though, and the memories of how silly these little guys were sometimes is something I'll never forget.

Well, the one who survived did really well the following summer. He came to visit nearly every day. I can't count the times I'd be out working in the garden and I'd get this weird feeling I was being watched. When I turned around and see who was there, he'd be ten feet away.

Course, he was pretty fond of the groceries and didn't like to miss a meal. This is when he got his nickname, Spiker. He's in velvet here, so it's fall again and the weather is getting cooler. Time to fatten up and he did that as often as I'd feed him.

Another tough winter, not so much snow as horrendous rains. We got cold here, had a couple of frozen rain experiences that I'd gladly have missed, and the animals suffered again. We lost three fawns that year, and it was difficult watching them all just try to live through it. Our food bill got pretty healthy too.

Oh, and that year, we had a new batch of animals show up. Bandits their called and with good reason. They're the cutes lil guys going though and of course, seeing as we have a cat, and I know bandits like cat food, well, you can guess the rest. Could you say no?

She came all winter, putting the run on the big bucks when they tried to chase her off. She vanished in the summer, but has come back and brought her family. And oh, what a family she has.Talk about better than television.

Are these guys cute or what? They usually come in the evening, but if they miss a visit, they'll show up during the day. This was early one morning. She has one more, but he's a bashful little guy and likes to hide under the deck, catching all the bits that fall through the cracks. LOL

There's nothing funnier than to see one, or more, furry lil bandits trying to sit in their food dish.

Let's get back to my Spiker. He's still around, and still doing well. He's now one of the big boys and puts the run on pretty much everyone. He's got one bud, another buck about the same age who turned up last winter. Over the years, Spiker and I have grown pretty close. He visits more often then most of the others, sometimes just to say hi, other times for a bite to eat. Just recently, he's decided he likes his head rubbed. Yeah, I know, dumb move. But, there was no way on this Earth I was going to back away from a chance like this.
He's amazing and it amazes me that he's allowed me this close. He's wild and could easily hurt me, or worse, with those horns he's got. He's in velvet, and it really does feel like velvet. He also loves apples, so I make sure I have a supply of them for him. I know one day he'll fail to show up, and I'll wait and wonder if he's just wandered off, or if it was just his time.


Molly Daniels said...

That's amazing, Jude:) Great pics! We had a raccoon named 'Rikki' for a few days, until she returned to the woods and didn't come back. When the cicadas came out, I had one that would sit on my shoulder when I hung the laundry on the line. I miss my 7 acres...and my hummingbirds.

Jamie Hill said...

These are great pictures, Jude. I'll admit they are the closest I've ever come to wildlife--other than that party I threw back in 1979...*snort*

Hope your Spiker comes around for a long time and always lets you pet his head!



Jude Mason said...


Thanks so much for commenting here. We've actually got two families of racoons coming to visit now, oh, and a single male who gets growled at ALOT...LOL There are times the two females meet and they snarl and scrap, but not seriously. The kits are amazing little things though and we love having them.

I've never seen a cicada, not in real life, we're much too far north I would imagine, but that would be so cool.


Jude Mason said...


Hey lady, it's great to see you here. I remember 79, vaguely... Hell, the entire 70's were a tad vague. LOL

I hope Spiker keeps coming around for a long time too. I never should have given him a name. He's a real beauty though, all sleek and getting fat now.

Thanks so much for dropping in.


Kim said...

These are some wonderful pictures. I so miss the wilderness. Leaving in the suburbs kind of puts a damper on things.

Ray said...

Great Blog Jude. Unfortunately here in Southeast Virginia many raccoons are rabid. Craney Island Fuel Depot is a wildlife refuge with all kinds of animals. The gate guards used to feed them next to their shack, but now they can't.


Jude Mason said...

Kim, I honestly can't imagine not being somewhere close to the wilderness. Even now, I sit in awe of the animals we have here. I truly am blessed. Thanks so much for dropping by.


Jude Mason said...

Hi Ray,

I'm so glad you dropped by. When we first wanted to help these gorgeous animals out, we weren't sure if we'd be given permission either. We were very lucky to know the game wardens quite well and that's the only reason we are allowed to.

The raccoons, well, most people here wouldn't feed them, they can desimate a batch of chickens or ducks in a week, if not less. If we had domesticated animals, I wouldn't even think of it. As for rabid animals, we do get them, but rarely, thank heavens. I've actually never seen one, so they must be pretty scarce.


Ashley Ladd said...

They're so adorable and these are amazing pictures. I don't get to see deer down here in Florida, or maybe because I'm in the city. I'll see them in Ohio sometimes near my dad's house.

I hope, too, that Spiker's around for a very long time.

Ashley Ladd said...

The 70's don't seem that far away to me. It amazes me when I count and they're 30 or gulp, almost 40 years, back.

Kayelle Allen said...

I couldn't resist Spiker either! I hope it's a long and happy relationship.

Desirée Lee said...

They're adorable!

My parents' house is surrounded by a huge alfalfa field. A herd of pronghorn have been taking up residence there during the growing season. They think it's their buffet!

There's one buck with a huge rack (for a pronghorn that is) that I call Big Daddy heading up the herd. There are several does and even a set of twin babies.

Now at my house, the only wildlife I've had here are two skunks. Ugh.

Carpe Noctem,

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Ruth said...

Hello Jude. Having grown up in the mountains, I learned an early appreciation for the "wild" ones. Even here in Texas the raccoons as well as the deer are very plentiful and venture into the city all the time (oh,and let us not forget the possum- lots of those). The pictures are incredible and I hope your Spiker survives man for a very long time. said...

I love your pics, Jude, good luck to all the animals. Occasionally we see deer near us, but they're very shy. Two in two years in about the record here in the Tyne valley only 20 miles from Newcastle.

Terry Odell said...

Great shots. We have a motion-activated camera set up outside. Even though we live in the suburbs in a typical housing development, we get foxes, armadillos, raccoons, possums, and lots of cats caught in our pictures. (And just to be perversely picky, since I used to work in the education department for a zoo, deer have antlers, not horns. Horns are permanent (think antelope) and antlers are shed annually. Doesn't detract from your photographs, however.

And, as Ray said, 'coons can carry rabies. They're also able to carry them without exhibiting symptoms, which makes them more dangerous, despite their 'cuteness'. Three of them once gave our Doberman/Lab mix a run for his money. :-)

Jude Mason said...

Terry, I used to teach outdoor ed here and you're absolutely right, deer have antlers. Anything that sheds each year is an antler.

Sheesh, I feel as if I've just been reprimanded by the teach. LOL

For years they tested the corpses of any raccoon or rat here for rabies. For awhile they had notices about the disease, and everyone was terrified their kids or animals would get it. Living on an island, we seem to have been lucky and they're haven't been any cases for years now. I do realize with the import of new animals all the time, we have to be aware of the possible danger, and believe me we are.

We've never had armadilos, but apparently someone nut brought possums to one of the outer islands. They either got loose or were set free and have become quite a problem.

Thanks so much for dropping by.


Terry Odell said...

No reprimand intended -- just reflex. Making sure nobody gets the wrong idea and blames you! When we drove from California to Florida years and years and years ago, there were armadillos all along the roadside. It wasn't until we actually got down into Florida itself that we realized they also came in the "alive and moving" versions. Until then, they were all roadkill.

Jude Mason said...

Smiling, I knew you didn't mean to lecture and you really didn't. That's usually what I do when someone makes a mistake about something I know and care about. Thank you.

Uh, this might sound a little ick, but I've got two or three of those infamous Roadkill Cafe T-shirt that were popular a few years ago. Nice picture on the front, menu on the back. LOL


Terry Odell said...

Well, Jude, we have the Field Guide to Road Kill. My husband's a biologist; necropsy discussions were dinner table conversation around our house.

Ray said...


I don't live in the wilderness, but it is pretty close.

One real treat was being aboard my last ship. It had an ROV with a camera that showed the ocean bottom. What awesome creatures were just below us. Sometimes as much as 1800 meters below us, but there was always something to see.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Jude - Looks, from the many comments, like you picked a very popular topic!

We used to live in the woods,on the edge of a river, so I have some amazing raccoon stories. I'll sum them up by saying: Humans 1 - Raccoons 50! They're amazing, though.

My husband had raccoons on the roof of his studio building in San Francisco!

Lyn Cash said...

Jude, what wonderful photos! And I love the stories! THANK YOU for sharing those!