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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Animal Kingdom

Paul and I have never had a pet. I feel un-American and maybe even un-human saying that, but since we teach students who come into our home, we’ve avoided getting one in case one of our students is allergic.

That’s not to say we are not surrounded by animals. When we lived in Harrisburg, North Carolina, we had a couple of acres out in the country but didn’t start really dealing with animals till we moved to the side of town.

We hadn’t been living here long, when one day I was standing in the kitchen facing the windows as I made a bottle for Baby Madi. Paul had gone to run some errands, and he happened to be on the phone with me when 12 deer ran into our backyard. TWELVE!! I counted.

I squealed with excitement as I described it to him. Very quickly he started asking me if they were pulling a sleigh with a chubby, white-haired man. I told him not to be stupid: they were deer deer, not reindeer.

Since then we have had squirrels by the scores, bunnies that have gotten fairly tame, lizards by the barrels (yuck), birds of all kinds, including hummingbirds, a few snakes, and one coyote.

One spring I was moving a Ficus tree around on the patio, and a lizard fell on my head. I screamed the neighborhood down and much to my consternation, no one even seemed to notice.

The deer have been a constant though. I am so torn. I love them because they are beautiful, and I hate them with a white hot passion because they eat everything I plant. People routinely stop their cars beside our house to gaze at the beauty of the deer in our yard, and then I come running out of the house, screaming like a banshee to run the deer off.

Twice now, mama deer have put their newborn fawns next to the foundation of our house while they go off in search of food. The last time it happened, the little fellow came out, wandered up to us, and let us pet him. We literally had to shoo him away from following us into the house.

Just this week we have added a less than cozy anecdote to our animal stories. On Sunday, a student came for his SAT session, and he told us there was a deer in our yard. Yep, I told him. Happens all the time.

No, he explained. This one was dead. Uh-Oh. We assume the deer had been hit by a car and wandered into our yard to die. It was not pleasant to see or smell.

Long story short. The city won’t come onto your property for fear of liability (classic) and private companies want between $400 and $600 to remove the carcass depending on the size.

It had taken a good while to get someone to actually return my call. The deer had been there well over a day by that point. I looked out the window to judge the size of the deer, and I noticed that the bulk of the animal was already gone thanks to the heat and scavengers. We decided we were going to wait it out. It only took three days total for it to virtually disappear.

And by the way, we can now also add vultures to the list of wildlife.

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Melissa Slayton
Melissa Slayton
Aug 10, 2023

OMG I can just see you when the lizard fell on your head!!!

Kelly Marks
Kelly Marks
Aug 10, 2023
Replying to

Lol. It was not my finest moment!!!

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