The deer have returned from the cedar swamp!

The deer have returned from the cedar swamp!

Yesterday afternoon the deer ambled up the driveway toward the oak tree.  We often toss out scraps of vegetables for them to eat, but they haven’t been around regularly recently.  When the snow gets too deep and temperatures plummet, they bed down in the cedar swamp.  Therefore, it was a pleasure to see the mom and her yearlings approach near the house again.

Then I noticed the mama was limping badly.  It was Lempi!  Remember hearing about Lempi from an earlier blog?  We named her a couple years ago.  She was hit by a car, or somehow injured, and limps terribly.  We worried about her making it through the winter.  But it looks like she survived!  Unfortunately, her front leg looks pretty bad now.  But she’s still alive and moving and rummaging beneath the oak tree for scraps.

They didn’t stay long.  I took a photo shoot, they munched for awhile, then took off through the woods.  Hasn’t this been the week for wildlife on this blog?  Just when I thought “we never see animals around here lately”…this week we’ve glimpsed lake trout, eagle, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, woodpeckers, ravines, porcupine, squirrel and deer.  Let’s see what else presents itself in the upcoming week.

I have a delicate subject to broach, considering the above photo.  It involves killing.  Animals.  Specifically, deer.  Do you know that the traditional Native Americans prayed before they killed an animal?  They talked to its spirit, apologizing, entreating the animal to share of himself with the hungry hunter and his clan. 

After killing the animal, the family attempted to utilize every bit of the deer for sustenance.  Nothing was wasted, if possible.  The meat filled the belly, the hide was tanned into clothing, the antlers made into tools, the toes tied together to wear around the ankles while dancing.  Traditional hunters believed that if the Great Spirit provided sustenance, to waste would be unthinkable.

I like that attitude.  I like when it’s possible to utilize scraps and tidbits, to recycle, to think about the Earth in a sacred way instead of easily tossing things in the garbage.  I like to live as simply as possible (although that doesn’t always work…but it’s an ideal.)

Today we had a little incident in the driveway.  Just before I went outside for my walk.  Barry sort of…well…slipped and fell.  Not once, but twice.  I told you the driveway was a skating rink!  (Are you wondering what this has to do with the sacred utilization of all parts of the deer?  Please read on…)

So what did we do?

Barry spreads wood ashes over ice on driveway

Barry spreads wood ashes over ice on driveway

We carried our buckets of ashes from the woodstove and sprinkled the ashes over the driveway ice.  Result?  You can now walk on the driveway without slipping and sliding and falling.  One drawback:  the ash tends to track into the house, so it’s necessary to take off shoes or boots immediately upon entering.

I like the thought that we’re using all of the trees, or as much of the trees as possible.  We use the logs to as firewood.  We use branches and bark and small pieces of wood for kindling.  Even the ash, the burned end product of the log, is utilized to keep us upright… 

Bright green moss on rotting log

Bright green moss on rotting log

Add to that:  trees provide beautiful photo opportunities!  Look at that color of green moss growing on that rotting log.  Beauty even as the tree decays.

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