Quail and deer lease my field

Deer skull with prairie grass (2011).

Temperatures reached 102 degrees yesterday.  Work slows or stops at 11:00 a.m.  Winds blew fierce, reaching 40 m.p.h. in gusts.  Yet, the pastures are green, the grass not browning for the moment.

* * *

Two days ago I shredded several narrow paths about the pastures.  I do not shred fields or pastures.  As I shredded a narrow path around the edges of Pecan Tree Pasture, I flushed a bobwhite quail.  Just one quail, but it is significant for quail habitually cluster in coveys.  Quail have disappeared in large portions of the area from hunting, shredding pastures, cropping and the spread of fire ants that kill young chicks.  I have reseeded the Pecan Tree Pasture with native grass and allowed the field to remain fallow for several years.  If I see more quail — the late sighting proving to not be an isolated occurrence — I will conclude I have done well in partial restoration of a native habitat.

* * *

Yesterday I sighted three mature deer and a fawn between the grove and the stock pond.  It is odd that their color is so pale brown, almost yellow, against the greenery of Spring.  Deer return, quail flush.  The fawn pranced.

* * *

As I sat on the back porch yesterday afternoon, a cattleman from Gordon knocked on the door.  He wanted to lease the pasture that I had flushed the quail and seen the deer — a monthly lease depending upon the number of cattle he would place.  I refused.  I told him that I would probably run a few head myself.  He stated that he had seen no cattle on the pasture and that’s why he had inquired.  I took his card and he said he was looking for pasture within ten miles of Gordon, so that if I heard of any land available for rent, please let him know.  I politely said I would.

Other inquires will follow this Spring.  They always do from cattlemen or harvesters of grass.  And, I always refuse and politely explain that I have the pasture for horses or a few head of cattle.  I have not run any cattle for four years.  I may put a few on the land this Spring, but not many and they will not disturb either deer or quail.  In the field, the Big Bluestem grass will be higher than the withers of horse and rump of cattle.

* * *

I had to kill a copperhead in the barn two days ago.  I knelt down to air up a tire and moved a salt block receptacle to position myself and a copperhead lay under the receptacle.  I will be cleaning out the barn early next week.  I had planned to do so — in fact I had moved six boxes of books to my office in Abilene a week ago –, but the danger of snake bite spurs me sooner to glean the barn.  My air conditioner repairman and contractor lost part of a finger last year from a copperhead bite.  For some reason, we have more copperheads in this portion of north Erath County, Texas, than most areas.

* * *

The photograph at the beginning of the post was taken over at Pecan Tree Pasture about where the solitary bobwhite was sighted.  I was observing the growth of native grasses a month ago and happened across the deer skull with horns.  I consider myself keenly observant of objects in my field of sight, but the grass has grown so high, secrets are undisclosed unless one tramps the land.  The skull remains in situ.  I like the simplicity, the complexity intertwined: deer, native grasses, treeline.

The field wholly remains in situ, lightly touched, deeply felt.

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15 Comments

Filed under Birds, Deer, Field Log, Life in Balance

15 responses to “Quail and deer lease my field

  1. Your title caused me to smile at first read, Jack. You are a wise steward and bet your land knows it!

    • Cirrelda, I like good titles of posts. I start composing with one title and then end up with another. I guess respecting the integrity of the prose as it comes out requires a re-titling of the post.

  2. Kittie Howard

    Ahhh, you’re back! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. There’s a certain peacfulness that comes from knowing what one doesn’t want and moving on – in the case, protecting what has come to be. I remember when there were no deer sightings…and, as if in a mystery, one wondered if they would return. They have – to “lightly touched, deeply felt.”

    Good on you for not accepting that lease! You’ll run what works with the land and not destroy it. – save for those copperheads – those dudes have got to go!

    • Yes, for about three years, no deer sightings. Yes, I’ll run with what works with the land. I’m possessive, I hope in a good way, of the land. I would like to think that because I lightly touch the land and deeply care about it that it has prompted or allowed the deer to return.

  3. Glad you’re back. This was truly a lovely post – you are such a good steward of your land. I’m sorry you had to kill a copperhead, but I understand that sometimes it’s necessary.

    • Rebecca, I was a bit sorrowful. I knew that they were shy reptiles and when I moved the salt block receptacle, it remained there without aggression. In the field I would have avoided it and let it be. But, in the barn is a different context. Thank you for commenting on my post.

  4. Caralee Woods

    Your snake story reminds me of something I (but maybe not you) found hilarious years ago. You were living at our house, taking care of our animals one summer while we hiked here in Utah. To scare birds off our blackberries, I put a rubber–but very real-looking–snake on the railroad tie that bordered the berry bed. In our rush to leave, we forgot to tell you about that fake snake. Somewhere in the middle of a hike, I suddenly remembered and knew you had encountered it when you went out to water the garden. I had to sit down and hold my sides and find some kleenex in the pack to wipe my eyes. I laughed till I cried, imagining you seeing that snake and jumping out of your pants! I know it’s mean, but I still laugh every time I remember that!

    • Yes, you forgot to tell me about the rubber snake! I was nonchalantly watering the garden, you know, rather absent-minded, and I looked down and jumped back about three feet. I knew you had not set it there as a joke for it would scare the birds, but it really looked real. I kept an eye on it for the rest of your vacation. I chuckled and looked up at the bat house. Those were good days for me. I didn’t mind living there alone with the companions of yours. It was a beautiful home.

  5. Your blog reminds me of A Sand County Almanac. I love your quiet observations.

  6. Leaving things in situ always leaves me feeling a part of the cycle of life rather than disrupting it. There’s something about observing and noting that allows for this. That’s what I most like about your posts, that recognition. A very fine post. So good to read your observations again.

    • It does make you feel that way, doesn’t it? Thank you, Teresa, for your comment. I always think of that post you wrote several years ago about hearing the dulcimer? at the end of street in Colorado. I also know that there’s a number of girls this summer that have their place at the end of the clothesline they can call their home. You now have Lonewolf. Good to hear from you, Teresa.

  7. Glad you have green pastures, hope they hold on a while in such nasty heat and wind. The winds this year just don’t seem to want to lay down. I love that you flushed a quail out of the grasses…a good sign. Your work restoring native grasses and not overgrazing is definitely paying off; I admire what you’re doing on your ranch.

  8. It looks like your doing a great job living with rather than off the land. The pleasure you get from your lessors is your personal profit. They benefit genuinely from your generosity. Too bad about the snake, but that is life in the country, unless you’re gonna move this was your only choice.

    Glad to see this post, I’ve been missing them.

  9. Good to see you back on line Jack!
    With regard to the deer – you may be aware that deer are not indiginous to Australia, however a long time ago last century some idiot released several species here – fallow, red, hog and samba (the latter from India). We have lived on this property for 37 years and for the first 25 years I saw not one deer. Since then the population has exploded so that I estimate the numbers in this region alone to be in the tens of thousands. We have no cloven hoofed native species in this country and while cattle, sheep, etc now have a place in the open grazing lands – there is no proper place for the deer in the mountainous and hill forested country. The damage they cause the environment is a cause for grief.
    So while I rejoice for you and your sightings of endangered native species, it unhappily reminds me of our local ‘curse’.
    I also sympathise with your treatment of dangerous reptiles. In the fields and forest they are safe and welcome – but come near my dwelling and it’s a different tale.
    Cheers, Bob.

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