Thursday, April 26, 2012

Story Time: Little Rain & How to Royally Screw Up Being a Hero

Story time, cuddle up, get some tea! 

Once upon a time I worked at a ranch in Nanton, AB... a very small town, right on the highway, with a plethora of antique shops. It wasn't exactly the best experience, but, from the craziness that was Nanton came a lot of stories, a lot of madcap escapades, and a lot of laughs.

In the 3 months I lived there, I ended up living with a revolving door of characters, some of which I'm still in contact with, and will hopefully remain friends for a long time... others, well, no contact has been had. The cast of characters included 2 engaged norwegians, 2 post-undergrad brits (who, strangely enough, had both just received their B.A.'s in Anthropology... I'm currently in Anthropology.. 3 anthropologists living under one roof... in a ranch... in the middle of nowhere), 2 at times separated/at times together lovers, 1 random australian man who appeared for a short period of time, 1 barrel racer from Ontario, 1 strange little girl who rode about 3 times in the 2 weeks she was there... I think that's it? There was also my dog Moose, 2 cats Jewel and Leo, and a revolving door of dogs as well... I think 5. (The lovers were also dog "trainers"), AND 2 sheep! Add all of that up, add a dash of crazy boss, and we got a situation on our hands.

Anyways, you get the idea, it was a strange house, "the bunkhouse", and strange things happened there indeed.

One of my favorite stories, but also possibly guiltiest is the day I took home a baby deer...

Yes friends, that is me, cuddling a baby deer. (Awful photo of me, but, it proves a point) However, if you look really closely in that photo you can really see my roots showing... ie. my city girl roots.
But, we'll get to those roots in a moment, and start at the beginning.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

It was another rainy, crappy day at the ranch and 3 of us were asked to go ride a quarter section a couple miles down the road, check fence, fix fence, report back. So out we went, bundled up, off to fix some fence. The ride was uneventful until about halfway through when the only boy on our wild west adventure, Tommy (norwegian #1), stopped us and pointed toward a baby deer, half hidden in grass. Jess (the barrel racer, and my comrade in the above photo) and I jumped off to look at the little deer. Here begins a very stereotypical boy-girl conversation when it comes to wild baby animals.

Tommy: "It looks as if it's mother has deserted it, it might be best for us to kill it."
(present day - I can't remember what utensil Tommy had on him to kill this poor creature, but, he was going to make murder happen. Actually, realistically, I highly doubt Tommy would have killed poor defenseless baby, but I'm sure he enjoyed playing the part of macho cowboy on the range.)

Louisa & Jess: NO! Absolutely Not!


Louisa (your hero!): Well, we could always bring it with us, and then call a wildlife sanctuary and perhaps they would take it.

& so began the adventure.
I proceeded to tuck the baby deer in my oilskin, mount my horse, and ride off in the sunset.
What was I thinking?

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Poor baby deer, who we named Little Rain due to the soft rain that was falling all around us. His long, spindly legs kept falling out of the bottom of my jacket, and I worried he was going to fall right out. So, Little Rain was moved to Jess' jacket. For the first part of the ride the fence line had been pristine, and then, as luck would have it, we find and capture a baby deer, and the fence line went to absolute shit.

3 hours later (maybe 4? maybe 16? My mind is playing wild tricks with my storytelling) we arrived back at the ranch, deer-in-coat-in-hand.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Thinking we were quite the heroes, we appeared at the bunkhouse with Little Rain. Kristine, Tommy's Fiance (Norwegian #2), was quite unimpressed and declared that we had probably done something very stupid. She was right. I called a wildlife sanctuary, or bylaw, or some such thing, and got a nasty little wake up call about my heroics. Here is where my city girl roots are showing... badly...

Do any of you wonderful readers know what mother deer do with their baby deer while they forage? They leave them, they hide them in long grass and forage without them. Usually they stay in eyesight... so we were deer kidnappers, who traumatized a mother deer by deernapping her newborn baby.

Do you know why they can do this? Because baby deer scent is undetectable, they are born scentless, and so predators rarely find them.
... except for big, stupid, blundering humans.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Wildlife lady also informed my that Little Rain was probably absolutely petrified as, (in her words), a "massive predator has just been clutching him to their chest for half of a day". Well wildlife lady, when you put it like that...

So.. back into the car we went, on wildlife lady's instructions, and Little Rain was hiked back to his homeland, and placed back into his grass. Thankfully deer are not one of those animals that will desert a baby if it has human scent on it, so she said the chance of the mother returning and taking him back was very likely.

We went back the next day, and he was gone.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

I have since told this story to people, most of my friends commiserate with my foolishness, however, an old rancher once laughed out loud in the middle of the story and said, "You do know that they leave their babies in the grass right?"
No sir, No I did not.
Lesson learned.

I like to think now that Little Rain is a papa deer (... i have absolutely no idea about deer reproduction, so maybe he's just a teenager now? giving his mom sass? Skipping school and smoking cigarettes?) and that he is telling his children the harrowing tale of the day he spent with humans.

Little Rain, the Human Whisperer.
Natural Humanmanship.

& that my friends, is the story of Little Rain 
& how to royally screw up being a hero.


  1. aww poor deer! Probly was terrified, but sure makes a good story :)

  2. "deernapping" = best tag ever. i think i probably would have done the same thing, but now i know!