The groundhog (Marmota monax) is a rodent of t...

Image via Wikipedia

Time for me to stop talking to the wild animals I encounter in and around my backyard. I’ve had a couple of weird encounters recently that have led me to believe that they are becoming entirely too comfortable with me.

There was the baby bunny who sat noshing on weeds just a few feet from me as I trimmed some bushes. I did talk to the bunny as I worked. I think I may have commented on the weather and what a nice bunny he is…you know, the usual. Every once in a while he would get a pensive look on his face and I thought that he was about to critique my pruning job. But no… We spent a few peaceful minutes in each other’s company as I worked, basking in the autumnal sunshine.

Then there was the groundhog. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that this creature has created problems for us before, choosing, as he has, to make his home base under the shed. Of course that drives the dogs crazy. A few months ago we had a bad incident when they chased him and then got stuck under there. Frantically I tried to get them out. I was especially scared as it was a very hot day and I only heard one dog whimpering, then…silence. I couldn’t reach them and was pulling off sideboards and digging with all my might. My fear, aside from how hot it might be in the burrow, was that the groundhog was in there with them and there had been a terrible battle. I really thought I might have lost them. Thank God I was able to corral a neighbor to help out and he did a masterful job of breaking through the shed floor. The dogs were in there alone, dusty, scared and shell-shocked. But safe and unharmed.

So you can see why spotting a groundhog in the backyard was not a thrill for me. I left the dogs inside and approached it hoping to scare it out of the yard. He watched me get closer and I admit my steps slowed as I realized he wasn’t going to go easily.  A few yards from him he did finally make a run for it…actually more of a slow, ambling mosey. I followed him around the yard urging him to leave, wanting to see if he was headed back under the shed. I felt more than a little foolish as it was a very, very  slow pursuit on my part.  Finally he found a hole in the fence he could squeeze his considerable girth through. After a final frenzied look back at me he kind of just tumbled out of the yard. Unfortunately there is no doubt in my mind that he will be back.

 And then there is the deer family who hangs out next door. They are becoming just a little too familiar and jaded for    my liking. I don’t want them thinking humans are safe…I don’t want any of our wilder visitors to feel that way. On    the other hand I do tend to talk to the deer when I see them by the apple tree. Especially when there are fawns with    them.

Anyway, late one afternoon I was doing dishes when I spotted the parent deer in our backyard. As I slipped quietly  outside I realized that there were actually 4 deer in our yard and two fawns lying down in the next yard.

The fawns’  presence was what made this encounter take a  different  turn. Instead of running away as usual the parent deer  faced  me full on and stamped her foot. I was a little taken aback. Could she hurt me? She didn’t have any antlers but still if she ran over me or knocked me down…I wasn’t sure. I mean deer are  prey animals right? She should have been long gone before I even got close. But no, here she was stamping her foot at me again, for emphasis. I told her I meant no harm but  she wasn’t  buying it. I eventually backed down since I didn’t want any of the deer family to get hurt in a panicked rush for safety. Let me clarify, that would be their panicked rush, not mine. However, I did retreat back into the house  and was greeted at the door by the dogs who clearly though I was a wuss of the highest order. I thought about explaining to them, but nah…