I watched a young doe approach the water bucket under the deck this evening.
It was about 6:30 and still very bright. It was obviously very difficult for her to overcome her fears, she must have been so thirsty. I first noticed her coming downhill as she was still 50 feet away. I heard her snort twice. She may have smelled the dogs in the front yard, or she may have sensed me watching her.
She took three nervous steps and froze. She lifted her feet high and placed them quietly.
Then her long ears twitched front, back, side to side. A vulture settled to roost in one of the tallest pines making a feathery flapping racket. This sound was expected. Familiar. No worry there. Then she turned back and looked hard at the windows off the deck.
It was me who made her delicate legs tremble.
She took two high steps. Standing for several tense moments, she listened and taste the air. Closer she crept and closer. She needed the water badly. I could almost feel her thirst.
I left the window then, knowing that it would be calming if I was not standing watching her, and I wanted her to drink her water. I have been thirsty, even knowing that it was a simple thing for me to find water. How challenging for the woodland beings who struggle through the hot dry season. Ponds and nearby creek-beds are long dry, driving them to travel long thirsty distances along known game trails, crossing well travelled roads until the intoxicating scent of water entices them to risk goat-cleared hillsides, forcing them to brave the dangers of dogs and hunter-humans.
Many evenings I hear the deer drinking from the water bucket. They walk so quietly, that I would never know they were there, except the cats alert me. Then I hear their soft sipping noises as they quench their thirst. Their drinking sounds just the same as my goats.
Many mornings when I do my early chores, I notice that leftover alfalfa from the previous day is gone like magic.
I know better than to purposely feed them. This leads predators in to wait. This leads to hunters shooting between buildings to poach, and it leads to dangerous confrontations between farm folk and deer who have lost respect for them.
I can't help but be glad that they find the water here that they so badly need for their survival.
...Autumn is nearing...