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Return of A Doe Named Ellen

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Here's part of a post from March 1, 2009. Nearly three years later, I have something to add...Read on!

As an artist and naturalist, I am always looking for something in each animal that I observe, something I can use to distinguish it from its kind. It's in getting to know an individual that I learn the things that interest me most. So when a fawn came in for corn this winter and I got a chance to photograph her, I noticed something different about her.Photo by Phoebe Linnea Thompson

One ear was askew, but it was more than that. Something about her just didn't add up.
Have you ever noticed how Ellen Barkin is beautiful, even though her face has two distinct halves? Cover half of her face with your finger, and then cover the other.

Two different people. I think it makes her interesting, moreso than would perfect symmetry. It's as if one side is at peace, and the other a bit disgruntled. Gives her range other actresses would envy, depending on the camera angle, of course. Wait! That's my mad side.

Zoom in, and you can see this fawn's left eye is lower than her right. And her left ear is canted sideways, and apparently stays that way. I'm thinking this might have been an injury in utero, or perhaps a birth defect. She's not perfectly symmetrical, but she seems to be coping all right.

No ruminant looks quite right when she's chewing, but...Needless to say, I call her Ellen.

Flash forward to the morning of February 6, 2012. I'm talking to Bill and Chet leaps off the bed growling as a deer flashes by the window. She stops and turns to look back. I know that face. That's Ellen!  I scramble upstairs to grab my camera, praying she'll stay. How can it be that I've missed her for three years?

She walks hesitantly along the edge of our yard (that's Garrett's broken snag in the foreground!) and it's clear she's not in good condition. She's got frozen drool on her whiskers and some kind of lesion or growth on her right cheek. Her coat is rough and she's not fat.

For a four-year-old doe, she's quite small, as well.

She has a little buck with her, perhaps her son?

This may sound crazy, but to me he looks just like her. Minus the asymmetry, of course. He looks like her and acts just like her.

My heart goes out to this odd little animal, who has survived an injury or serious birth defect and four seasons of hunting in a heavily-hunted area. That's saying something. That's saying a lot.

Clearly, there's nothing wrong with Ellen's mind if she can pull that off.

She throws me one last quizzical look, walks in a small, undecided circle, and bounds away.

Fare thee well, sweet Ellen. Nobody's going to shoot you for your big rack of antlers, for your beauty or majesty, at least.

I put on my coat and walk to the garage to get a scoop of cracked corn to scatter under the pines.


Lovely post, and wonderful observations. Poor thing, hopefully an early spring will let her rebound some.

It's nice to be able to identify a particular deer, even though it's often because something is *wrong* with it. We have a deer who visits us regularly whom we call - with no originality whatsoever - "Gimpy" because she broke an ankle at least six years ago, and has walked on the side of her totally bent right front hoof ever since. I'm always SO delighted to see her again, still out there, still surviving. She often appears in the summer with a fawn, so she's still doing her bit in that regard as well. I wish your Ellen well.

Awww, Godspeed Ellen and son...

That's a sweet post! Hope Ellen continues to do okay.

I'm sending some love Ellen's way, and hope she stops back for that corn.

Posted by Amy Girten March 3, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Do deer ever develop Bell's Palsy? To me (a BP's sufferer), that's what I think when I see Ellen Barkin's face, that she had it at one time. It occured to me to wonder if deer get it too. Or cats or dogs, or cows...

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