We live in one of the most beautiful places in CA I think, majestic oak forests dot a spectacular green landscape, er.... okay, so it's only green for about 4 weeks but the rest of the year it gives justice to the old "amber waves" phrase. It is clean & clear and the sky is blue. Did you know the sky was blue? After living in LA for a few years, I was beginning to believe in the 'blue sky conspiracy theory'.
Living in the country we have a different lifestyle than most folks. We have to really plan shopping trips as we live about 45 miles from the "real" shopping centers that feature such staples as Costco and Wal-Mart. We have dust, no I mean real dust- the kind that coats your car in one trip down the 2 1/2 mile dirt road we live on. We get to wake up to the sound of a rooster (wait a minute, did I just list that in the bonus column??) and eat fresh, free range eggs. We have clean air to breathe, and loads of room for the kids to run. It took a while before I didn't duck and scream the kids in from outside whenever we heard a gunshot. Out here it means target practice or hunting, not gang insanity.
We have neighbors, not the kind where you can see into their living room when you look out your bathroom window, but we do have them. We don't know all our neighbors, we are just too far away to be really neighborly. We have our share of oddballs, after all we live in the country, but we haven't heard the strains of Dueling Banjos yet. We have wonderful neighbors, and the kind you just learn to stay away from- not much different from anyone else I guess. When there is a crisis, like a fire- the chain goes into effect and everyone pulls together until we all seem to be sharing one big backyard. Pretty cool.
We see a wide variety of wildlife; deer, bobcats, the occasional mountain lion and bear... One day I was on my deck and there were three kinds of Finches feeding on the sunflowers I plant for them every year, 8 Hummingbirds in the big feeder, a pair of Bluebirds, a Mountain Bluejay, one Mourning Dove, a Towhee and a Woodpecker.... all right there in front of me! Totally awesome.
One Sunday evening it was a full house at our place. My friend from San Diego and her 4 kids were here and it was a joyous cacophony of sounds at our humble abode. I got a frantic call from one of my wonderful neighbors, one of their dogs had been found guarding a newborn deer near their back deck- very newborn. The husband was looking for the momma, but could we help? They had no idea what to do with this little one, and knew we raised alpacas, so we might have a clue. He searched to no avail- mom couldn't be found anywhere. Loth to leave the babe out there in the hopes that mom would just come back and find her (we had an annoying bear in the neighborhood) they didn't know what to do.
So hubby ran up there and picked up the wee one while I made a few phone calls to figure out what we could do. Through a wildlife rehabilitation place up near Fresno we were able to determine what needed to be done for the newborn. What do you know? She needed colostrum and goats milk, and what did we just happen to have on hand at that time? Just what was needed. Lucky for the little one we had a rare situation occurring on the ranch just then, a cria who needed additional supplementation, and what do we feed them? Colostrum and goats milk. Coincidence? I think not.
She was new, so new her umbilical cord was still wet. She was so small, unbelievably small....she was only 13" at her shoulders!! And she wanted nothing to do with that colostrum. I am sure we made quite the picture.... yeah laugh, I'd like to see you try to bottlefeed an octopus masquerading as a fawn..... I finally settled on feeding her with a bulb syringe (you know, the kind you suck the bogeys out of your kids nose with? This one was for just such an occasion as this though- let not your heart be troubled).
Before long she was following me around- we have hard wood and Pergo floors... this was a problem! Deer feet and slippery floors- never the twain should meet. We had to block off a section of the living room and put blankets all over the floor. Using two couches, a rocking chair placed on it's side and a piano bench the enclosure was finished. I spent the whole time laying in there with her because when I would leave she would try to follow me and cry. You haven't heard anything till you hear a newborn deer bleat- what a hoot! It sounds like a cross between a Nubian goat and an alien. She was promptly dubbed "Lil' Liza Jane" after an old timey tune my kid's band plays. Sweet lil' Liza Jane.....
Mixing small amounts of colostrum, milk and a little whole fat yogurt I fed her every hour and a half all night long. The next day we were to take her up half way to meet with a volunteer from the rehab center. He was going to take her the rest of the way to her new home.
During the short time that she was here, she touched my life profoundly. I had been witness to all kinds of wonders, assisted in many alpaca births, had kittens and puppies born along the way, and kids of my own. Bottle fed an alpaca or two and even some kittens long ago- but nothing was like this. This was a wild animal, right there in my living room! A precious gift and rare opportunity given to me. She worked her way into everyone's heart in my family, my daughter kept saying, "I can't believe we have a deer in our living room!" She was so cute, and affectionate. I never knew deer were very affectionate with their young, but they must be because she kept touching me with her cold little nose to reassure herself I was still there. Ginormous ears!! And those eyes.... wow. Huge, brown and green and rimmed with blue and so very, very, wise. Like an old soul was housed in that wee, new body.
When the time came to say goodbye, I thought my heart would break. Who'da thunk you could get so attached in just 24 short hours? Would she be all right? Would she live? The man I talked to at the rehab center told me they have about a 31% survival rate when they are rescued... 31%?? Forget that, I'll just keep her here and graft her onto an alpaca!! Poca could adopt her, she's short enough.... I could just see it now, visions of Liza pronking with this year's crias.... after all, they both bounce the same- she'd fit right in!
Then he told me that most of the time people find these new ones, then keep them for a few days, doing all the wrong things, feeding them the wrong stuff, and by the time the center gets them they are already mostly dead. He said this one was lucky, she found someone who had all the right things for her first day on earth. We knew her best chance for survival from then on was with people who were qualified to raise her, and where she would be with other little ones like her. He said they would make every effort to release her right back here in our own canyon when she was old enough.
So, we did the right thing and handed here over, though not without some tears shed.
We have pictures, unforgettable memories, and I sometimes feel the little wet and cold touch of lil' Liza Jane's nose on the back of my hand....
Thanks for visitin Liza, we hope to see you again some day when you're all grown up. Stop by any time sweetheart.