As an aside, I think I have a greater appreciation for what Amish parents must go through when their kids leave for their rumspringa.
So what I'm saying is, Tabor may be Amish.
Anyway, over the past weeks her band of fairweather friends moved on (I told her it would never last/they weren't any good for her/we knew better). She wandered the property in back of Cabbage Ranch, usually by herself. She seemed fine and as her belly grew larger with her baby she visited more frequently.
As time passed she allowed closer contact and eventually Cabbage was able to feed her from his hand again, then pet her. Within the last week my toddler, Beep, and I were able to visit with her at feeding time, and I was reassured that she was still the same sweet little deer. Tabor was happy to be petted, happy to eat corn from our hands, and even tolerated Beep's hollering, baby pats on her forehead, and bucket-shaking antics. That made me all the more certain she was ready and able to come back home.
Our back fenceline stretches long and tight, paneled with wire and without a single gate. Tabor has never been confident in her jumping abilities, but that's been especially true since she injured a hind leg two years ago and suffered some permanent tendon damage. Jumping the fence wasn't a safe option for her, and she was still refusing to cross the fence where Cabbage had lowered it. There, it was plenty low enough for her to hop over but she was wary of it... She's a deer.
Finally, on Saturday evening, we stood along the back fenceline as I fed and stroked Tabor. I looked at the lowered fence, then at Tabor, and back at the fence. Cabbage knew what I was thinking, and chuckled. But I resisted the temptation to try to shove her over it, knowing she was very fast and strong, and my odds of success were about nil.
I asked about putting a gate in, or cutting the fence, or... something... "Can't we just help her out? She seems ready to come home."
Cabbage had obviously been thinking the same thing. He ran through a few options that would allow us to create an opening in the fenceline without compromising the whole dang stretch of wire, and finally hit on an idea that made sense to him.
Sunday morning we headed to Lowes, got supplies, and he got busy sawing and drilling and clamping. Beep and I napped, because I'm a good helper like that and on the weekends I have the sleep schedule of a toddler.
When he was done, Cabbage had made a sturdy little braced frame just wide enough for a deer to walk through. Once it was installed he cut the fence and bound it back to the frame. The deer portal was ready.
Two hours later Tabor came up for her feeding and happily wandered through. She was back on Cabbage Ranch. She had, perhaps, been waiting for a gate all along.
We're a little slow, but we catch on eventually.
Now we are just letting Tabor settle back in, get reacquainted with her two-year old daughter, Abby, and relax before she has her fawn(s). We hope she'll stay and fall easily back into her old routines, but if she ever does need help getting back through the fenceline again, we now have her little doorway. It's a fence built for Tabor.
Cabbage's fence brace along the back property line
The fence brace (closed with a piece of wire panel) after Tabor came home
Do you see our little deer in this picture?
Beep is happy to have Tabor home, too
The End (for now)