A View to a Kill

Trigger warning: this posting deals with animal death. If you are having a bad day or feeling queasy, this one probably isn't for you! No offense taken. It was nice of you to stop by. I'll see you on another day.

There is a dead deer in our woods. I know this because I am the girl who put it there. The sad event of its death happened on Christmas day. My husband and I came back home from a church meal in town, only to discover that one of "our" does had been hit on the road and instantly killed. Yeah, happy Christmas.

The body was at the edge where the yard and trees meet. We called the game commissioner, as they tell you to do. And he never did a thing. Never called back, never showed up, nothing. Who wants to deal with a dead deer on Christmas day? Or on any other day, for that matter?

So the day after Christmas, my husband and I had a talk: What should we do with the deer? We thought about taking it somewhere, but realized pretty quickly that there is probably nowhere you can dump a dead deer without getting into some sort of trouble for it. And besides, who wants to ride around town with a dead deer in the car?

So my husband and I got my trusty yard cart, which has served me so well through the years, in every single crisis. And we put on gloves, and we loaded the poor deer's body into it. With me feeling very sad and weepy: Poor thing. POOR poor thing.

And I pushed that yard cart through the woods, with the deer riding in it, its legs flapping in the breeze. I admit I was thinking ridiculous thoughts about that Patrick F. McManus story about how he strapped a deer on the back of his bicycle, and how he thought it was dead until it suddenly came back alive and pedaled off down the hill. (If you have not ever read that story, you really should, BTW. It's a far better tale than this one!)

But no, my deer (alas) dd not return to life to liven up my tale. So I pushed it in my cart through our woods to the very middle spot in the woods where it was least likely to offend, and I dumped it there. A word to the wise: There is no end to the unusual and even disgusting tasks you will find yourself handling as a homeowner. Disposing of the dead isn't even half of it. You must take my word on this.

Coincidentally, the removal of a dead deer was my first introduction to home ownership here. When I bought my house back in 2004, there was a doe who kept wandering around my house, looking soulful. It seemed unusual that she was so friendly. She seemed to be haunting the place.

The very night I finished moving my last car load of stuff in, I found out why: an unpleasant smell led me to the carcass of her fawn near the house. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I slid the tiny carcass into a garbage bag with all due tenderness and disposed of it similarly, hauling it off into our woods. Poor thing. Poor little one. *sigh* But I digress.

The local turkey vulture population thought the arrival of the dead Christmas day deer was marvelous news indeed, and they have been visiting the deer carcass several times a day. On this particular day, I was sitting on the bed reading when I heard a mighty flap of wings. I ran for my camera, and this was one of my shots, taken through the bedroom window.

Turkey vultures are famous for being able to eat pretty much anything, because their stomachs are made of a substance that is a lot like cast iron. They can eat all manner of carrion. In our neighborhood, there is a huge group of them, and they seem to enjoy sitting on the fence posts along the farm fields, looking huge and intimidating, like dark angels of death. Or gargoyles, perhaps.

"Did you know:
*The turkey vulture is one of the few birds able to use its sense of smell to locate food.
*Turkey vultures don't have a voicebox. They can't sing or call. Their vocalizations are limited to hisses and grunts.
*Though they look awkward and ungainly on the ground and must work hard to gain flight, they are graceful and elegant in the air, soaring in beautiful teetering flights across the sky. They rarely need to flap their wings."

So while they may be not so pretty to look at, they serve a vital function in the food chain, clean-up crew to the endless cycle of life and death on this planet. It is an important service and we are grateful indeed. 

Learn more about this bird at the Cornell Lab website.

The soundtrack for this posting is, of course, the tune you expected: Duran Duran, with A View to a Kill.

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