The Fawn and The Potato Salad

Diane Prather

I’ve written quite a lot about the antics of the deer that, for some reason, spend a lot of time here at Pipi’s Pasture. Mostly, I’ve written about what they eat — or sometimes just “nip off” and don’t eat — but watching a fawn eat potato salad is a first.

Two years ago a little herd of deer — two or three at first and finally about a dozen — enjoyed eating on baled hay in the garden/hay yard area in Pipi’s Pasture. They had found a place where the fence between the pasture and hay area was bowed and stared jumping over to get to the hay. What a mess they made of the hay. We had to put up elk panels, and the next spring I had the fence rebuilt.

After the hay experience, the number of deer around Pipi’s Pasture decreased but not altogether. I’ve written about their eating habits before. Deer like to eat browse which includes tree leaves. This year they ate so many of their favorite lilac leaves that by midsummer the poor lilacs had leaves left only at the very tops of the bushes.

Deer like fruits, too, like the apples off the trees in the yard — that is if they can trample the netting that covers the trees. They eat the pumpkins that I put out for decorations in the fall — seeds and all. This past summer, a doe pulled a potted tomato plant off the porch, right through the rails, and ate every single cherry tomato, both red and green.

Mostly, deer like cat food, and I haven’t been able to find a good place here at Pipi’s Pasture where I can feed the cats and the deer can’t get to the food. Furthermore, cats have a unique feeding pattern. Rather than gobbling up all their food at once, they prefer to eat a little bit and then return to the cat pan several times during the day. That makes the food easy picking for the deer.

It used to be that the cat food was safe on the front porch, but then the deer started walking right up the steps and onto the porch. They have gotten brazen about it, too, not running away when I try to chase them off. In fact, the deer even stand on the steps as I guard the cats so they can eat. If I turn my back, the deer are up on the porch eating cat food.

Two does and fawns have been especially bold since December. One spring fawn has a leg injury but limps along to search for food and is able to walk up the porch steps. One afternoon I put out cat food and also a ham bone and some leftover potato salad. I watched over the cats as they ate while the lame fawn stood on the top step. It didn’t bother him one bit when I shooed at him. I had to leave for a minute, and I returned to a sight I won’t soon forget. One cat was eating cat food. Another nibbled at some meat on the ham bone. The fawn stood at another pan, eating the potato salad, no matter that pickles and onions were in the ingredients. I stood there for a minute, watching as the fawn stopped to lick his lips. He did not notice that I stood in the doorway.

I thought that I’d seen it all but not a fawn eating potato salad.

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