Yesterday evening, as I was heading up my driveway, I noticed a deer lying in my front yard. As I passed by, she stood up and walked off. To my surprise, a tiny fawn, looking like it was trying to find its footing, wobbled off with her.

The fawn must have been very young since they usually shed their "sea legs" quickly. Our neighborhood is unique because, even though it's a developed area, everyone has large properties, and many houses are hidden from view in the summer due to the thick woods. Fawns are a common sight here. Since hunting is prohibited, we have a large herd of deer that roams the streets, often munching on our landscaping.

They even come right up onto my front porch to eat my flowers. It's exasperating, but they are cute, so what can you do?

Because the deer in our area are quite domesticated, they often take their sweet time in the middle of the street when we're trying to drive through. I have to honk to get them out of the way! They also frequently leave their fawns around our yards, knowing it's a safe place. Plus, my 15-pound dog does an excellent job of deterring larger critters, or at least he thinks he does when he patrols our yard.

@jenamhc Wow! Amazing display of instinct. The adults ran and the fawn dropped to hide. (The mama doe in the background blew because she thought I was a threat to the fawn.) #mamadoe #deer #deerbehavior #fawn #ranching #instinct ♬ original sound - Jena Carver - Deer Breeder

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When to Call the Wildlife Rehabilitator for a Fawn

So, how do you know when a mama deer won't be coming back for her baby and it's up to you (the free babysitter) to call a wildlife rehabber? For the first few weeks of life, fawns will often tuck themselves into a spot and lay motionless while mama goes out looking for food. They have no scent so unless a predator walks up on them, they are relatively safe.

But there are fawns that need help if mama can't or won't come back to take care of them.

Here's a list of things to look for. If you see one of these, it's probably time to call the wildlife rehab facility.
  • Witnessing the mother die or a fawn who is next to a dead deer
  • Obvious signs of injury
  • The fawn is covered in large amounts of insects
  • Laying on its side or back
  • Extremely thin, curled ear tips, or a visibly dry nose
  • In the roadway or will not leave the road

The Indiana DNR warns the public that handling wildlife should only be left to professionals. They can carry parasites and diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, and the scent from handling baby animals can detour moms from coming back and lead predators to their secret hiding spots. It also can disrupt the natural order of things - so leave them be unless it's absolutely necessary.

Petting Zoos Within Driving Distance of the Tri-State

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer animals over people most days. I tell my boyfriend all of the time that when we retire, I want a little plot of land with some cows, goats, pigs, chickens, and a whole lot of dogs. A girl can dream, right?
Sadly, since I can't have my own farm anytime soon, I guess I will settle for enjoying other people's animals, which means frequenting petting zoos and farms is pretty common for us. Luckily, I don't have to drive far to pet all the animals I can fit into a day.
From elephants to highland cattle to Clydesdales and a coatimundi, the tristate offers a wide variety of petting zoos that can be visited in a short day trip. Next thing you know, you'll be making your own list of animals to have on your own dream farm like me.

Gallery Credit: Melissa Nelson

A Look Inside Helm's Greenhouse in Richland, IN

Nathan and Peggy Helms' venture in Spencer Co., Indiana, birthed a thriving produce business. Helm's Greenhouse, nestled behind Luce Elementary, embodies their legacy. Tom Helms and his father Nate Jr. cultivate a vibrant array of fruits and vegetables, including their prized tomato hybrid. Don't miss out on a visit to Helm's for a taste of summer and a glimpse into their family's rich history.

Gallery Credit: ASHLEY SOLLARS

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