The Fawn and the Mare

Ranger Horace and Josephine looked in awe as their horse, Rose stretched her neck over the dividing wall between the stalls trying to get a scent of the animal on the floor. Rose sniffed and snorted and kicked the wall trying to reach for the fawn. The fawn’s ear twitched as Rose huffed in her direction.

Ranger Horace and Josephine looked in awe as their horse, Rose stretched her neck over the dividing wall between the stalls trying to get a scent of the animal on the floor. Rose sniffed and snorted and kicked the wall trying to reach for the fawn. The fawn’s ear twitched as Rose huffed in her direction.

Whimsy is a frog on a limb. He’s a curious little tree frog with a penchant to stumble into the creative world of people. With his new friend Muse, he’ll add a bit of Whimsy to our lives.

Whimsy and his friend Muse successfully led the Ranger to the little orphaned fawn, The Ranger and the Fawn, but the poor unfortunate creature isn’t out of danger yet. What will our two heroes do next? 

 

 

 

It’s a narrow, rutted and dusty road, a slow roll for the Park Service pick-up. The truck’s headlights were fighting a losing battle with the evening fog rolling in through the trees. The forest all but blocked the last red and yellow rays of the sun, nearly an hour below the hills now.

Over a few more teeth-rattling bumps and a lazy S-curve, the road opens to a clearing surrounded by hills and trees. Through a gate in a timber fence, and past a garden with tall corn where a dusty scarecrow is on guard, stands a modest plank home with a wraparound porch, flanked by a tall red barn and stable. A solid door in weathered red boasts the home’s entrance. On either side of the door, pale yellow, electric light pours through windows flooding part of the covered porch. In the window, right of the door, is the silhouette of a lovely woman, sitting on the inside sill. Her high cheeks and handsome jaw are pressed against the rippled glass so to see down the dusty road and into the forest in the fading light.

In the kitchen, a plate of untouched vitals sit on a warm stove, covered with a heavy cloth to hold in the heat. In the joined dining room, on an oak claw foot table, a young man works on his studies, while his little sister, a cherub in her evening dress, plays tea party with a grubby doll. A blue-eyed heeler lies quietly on the floor, blending, almost unnoticeably; into the rag rug she’s made her bed for the moment.

Before anyone else could detect the slightest change in the air, the heeler suddenly sprang to her feet halting the study, breaking up the tea party, and steeling the attention of the lovely women at the window. The Park Ranger’s wife turned back to the window just in time to see the lights from the Ford pick-up advancing toward home through the stand of corn and through the trees beyond.

“Thank heaven,” the woman said with a sigh of relief.

“Daddy’s home Lizzie,” said the young man to his little sister in an effort to be the first to spread the news; his younger sibling was the last left unaware.

“Yes,” the mother agreed. “Hurry, set the table for your father Aaron! He’s bound to be fit with hunger out all day like this.”

As he was told, the young man closed his text book, gathered his papers and pencil box, and cleared his and his sister’s things from the table to make room for his father’s supper. The lovely mother opened the door to greet her dusty park ranger, curiously still in the drive reaching into the passenger side of his pickup.

“Oh lord,” the woman mumbled, “what does he have now?”

Young Aaron quickly jumped to the window. “A puppy! Daddy has a puppy,” the boy shouted running past his mother and out the door.

“Puppy! Puppy!” Little Lizzie chanted, trotting out the door after her brother with Lady, the healer, barking at her heals.

“Where did you find the pup Daddy?” Aaron called out to his father before sliding up next to him at the truck.

“Calm down boy,” Ranger Horace insisted of his son. “It ain’t a pup; it’s a fawn, and all your shoutin’ is going to scare the poor animal to death.”

“A fawn Daddy? Where did you find a fawn? Momma ain’t gonna be happy about that,” the boy laughed.

Aaron squatted to his little sister, who came running up next, taking her hand and putting a finger to his mouth indicating she had to be quiet. “Daddy has a baby deer and it’s very scared,” he told little Lizzie.

“A baby deer?” The mother asked walking out to the others laying a shawl over her shoulders.

“She was stranded in the woods Jo,” Horace said, turning to greet his wife with the fawn in his arms swaddled in his Park Service jacket.

“Oh dear,” Josephine lamented, but her motherly instincts quickly suppressed her displeasure at having the poor creature to care for. “Put her in the empty stall in the barn hon. I’ll heat some water for formula. Aaron, fetch me a jar of molasses and a tin of milk out of the shed. Lizzie, you help your Daddy now sweetie… Stay with Daddy!”

Everyone went the direction they were ordered. Josephine was in charge now and no one would dare dispute that she was most qualified for the job.

 

“This way Whimsy! Come on!” Muse said hurrying his little friend.

“Where we going? They’re taking the baby deer that way.”

“To watch the Ranger’s Wife. She’s making a formula to feed the deer.”

“But I thought the mare thing was going to feed the baby deer.”

“That is certainly an option,” Muse assured the little frog, “but the Ranger has a responsibility to the creatures in these woods, and his wife is a good woman with many good ways.”

Muse sped to the side of the home where a small window cast a yellow glow onto a young silver maple gleaming in the light. Whimsy scurried up the tree and out on to a limb reaching for the window, but he couldn’t get a good peak in to the kitchen where the Ranger’s wife was working.

“What are you doing,” Mused asked, watching his little friend preparing to leap from the end of the limb he was on.

Whimsy’s only response was a lightning quick projection from the end of the maple limb to the window where on the other side; Josephine was filling a pot of water.

 

“Oh my goodness!” Josephine startled back from the sink a step, putting her hand on her heart, at something that suddenly appeared in the window.

“You gave me a fright,” she said to the little frog clinging to the other side of the rippled glass.

Before she went back to the sink to finish filling a pot of water, she paused to study the creamy underbelly of the frog suckered securely on the outside.

“Hmm, I’m going to need more fat,” she revealed to herself. “And I’ve got just the thing.”

While water heated on the General Electric Hotpoint stove, Josephine reached into the General Motors Frigidaire refrigerator to pull out a couple fresh eggs, and a cup of whole cream she was saving to use for pie topping, but this was clearly more pressing at the moment.

Aaron came running in with the can of powdered milk, and Josephine completed the ingredients with some fish oil from under the sink. She mixed up the powdered milk into the boiling water, took it off the heat and added the cup of cream for added fat, a cup of molasses for high energy, a tablespoon of fish oil high in vitamins, and then whipped it all up together with two fresh eggs containing natural antibiotics critical to the young fawn. It wasn’t a perfect replacement for her mother’s milk, but under the circumstances, it would have to do along with the family’s prayers for plenty of fight in the newborn fawn to make it through the next few days.

 

“Ok, let’s go my little suckered friend,” Muse called to Whimsy, still sticking to the glass. “They’ll be headed out to the barn next. You don’t want to miss anything.”

Before Muse finished speaking, Whimsy scaled the home, scooted quickly across the tin roof, and then slid toe to toe along a power line that led from the corner of the home to the barn.

“Ok, now what,” Whimsy asked pausing just below the loft door of the barn.

“Come on,” Muse called going straight through the solid plank wall.

Unable to go the way Muse demonstrated, Whimsy climbed in through a crack in the loft door, then down a support timber into the stalls.

“Get behind one of these stalls and find a good spot where you can see… and try not to be seen,” Muse ordered.

Whimsy found a nook in the top of a stall opposite where the Ranger had placed the deer, and opposite the massive creature in the adjacent stall.

“That’s a pretty thump-thump,” Whimsy said to his friend hovering near by, unseen by the family.

“A thump-thump,” Muse asked, a little confused.

“Ranger Man’s thump-thump. They thump-thump when they come through the forest.”

“That’s the Ranger’s mare,” Muse chuckled.

“Oh, THAT’s the mare. Well why didn’t you just say it was a thump-thump.”

 

Rose is a proud and majestic red mare. Regardless of her recent difficulty giving birth to a stillborn colt, and obvious remorse for her missing offspring, she appears healthy, strong and fit. Her coat shines in the dim light of the barn, and the white star on her forehead glows like a spotlight. Her muscles shutter as she prances around in her stall, curious about the unusual activity in her home so late in the day

In the adjacent stall, the Ranger and his young daughter sit huddled on the hay carpeted floor around an animal seemingly dead but for the faint movement of her chest. The barn door opened slightly and Josephine and her son walk in.

“Let’s give this a shot,” Josephine said, squatting next to her husband, a glass baby bottle topped with an anti-colic nipple in her hand. “I didn’t think she would take it from the feed bucket, so I’ll give this bottle a try.”

“She ain’t doing too good I don’t think,” the Ranger said softly to his wife in an attempt to shield his young daughter from the bad news. The girl was already attached to the poor creature, sitting next to the fawn and petting it repeatedly between the ears and down its back.

“Well, if we don’t get her to eat, she’s sure not to make it,” Josephine said more matter of fact.

“Come on sweetheart,” Josephine said lifting the fawn’s head and trying to get the animal to take the nipple. “Come on sweetie.”

“Why won’t she take it,” Whimsy asks. “She has to eat to grow.”

“She’s scared and weak,” Muse tries to explain. “She needs her mother to reassure her and convince her to feed.”

“What can we do?”

“Well, not much we can do, but maybe this mare can.”

Whimsy watched as Muse buzzed down to the prancing horse and then in and out of her expanding nostrils. Immediately the anxious animal calmed and took more interest in what was going on in the stall next to her.

 

Ranger Horace stood over his wife and daughter and the distressed fawn convinced the outcome would not go well for the animal becoming rarer and rarer in these mountains. He felt a cold, wet flutter on the back of his arm but ignored it at first. The flutter became a nudge under his arm, and then an outright push as Rose moved the Ranger aside with her powerful neck.

Ranger Horace and Josephine looked in awe as their horse, Rose, stretched her neck over the dividing wall between the stalls trying to get a scent of the animal on the floor. Rose sniffed and snorted and kicked the wall trying to reach for the fawn. The fawn’s ear twitched as Rose huffed in her direction.

The Ranger and his wife looked at each other and shrugged in agreement.

“Aaron, bring Rose over here,” The Ranger demanded of his son standing outside the stall.

Rose met the boy at the stall door and rather walked herself to the adjacent stall than be guided by Aaron. The Ranger took her by the mane and tried to lead her gently to the fawn but there was little he could do to slow her.

“Easy girl… Easy…” the Ranger pleaded with the beast.

Josephine picked up Lizzie and moved aside as Rose leaned in to inspect the docile creature on the floor. Horace continued to steady the mare, but her anxiety quickly turned to peaceful curiosity as she put her nose in the middle of the curled fawn, sniffing, snorting and gently nudging the creature.

To the family’s surprise, the fawn began to stir, and tried to rise.

“Well I’ll be…” Josephine said.

“Mommy look,” Lizzie exclaimed. “Rose is mommy.”

“Yes she is sweetheart. It looks like she is.”

The Ranger loosened his grip on Rose who continued to gently encourage the fawn to stand. The fawn seemed to gain strength with every second, first stretching out her front legs, and then falling and extending her back legs, seesawing back and forth until she was finally wobbling on four spindly legs.

The fawn’s chances quickly turned from likely death to an encouraging fight for life, but there was still one unfortunate challenge that had to be remedied.

Ranger Horace laughed out loud. “She’s too short to reach the teat,” he laughed.

“This should do it,” he said placing a short step under Rose and assisting the fawn up with her front legs. Rose looked around at the Ranger and whinnied in approval.

A frog barked nearby, but went unnoticed by the family.

 

“Yay!” Whimsy shouted. “The baby is going to be ok.”

“Well, she still has a tough fight ahead of her,” Muse answered, “but it does appear her chances have greatly improved.”

“We did it!”

“Yes, I suppose we did my little green hylid,” Muse said feeling rather proud. “I suppose we did.”

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