Tuesday, 24 July 2018

The liberation of Bambi

There is a cottage beside the track leading up to the level crossing from our office car park. The cottage has a lovely garden with a wrought iron gate that opens on to the track.

Yesterday lunchtime, I pulled up in front of the level crossing and was about to call for the gatekeeper to let us across, when my son, sat in the car next to me, mentioned that he was further back down the track, by this iron gate.

I get out of the car and wander back down the track, a little concerned at what we might find, and discover Issac, the duty gatekeeper, and a chap who apparently lives in the terrace houses at the top of the road, are huddled over a small deer that has ill advisedly tried to squeeze through the vertical bars of the gate and got itself stuck mid-way through.

Apparently, the almost human, terrified screams of the animal when she had first got caught had been loud enough to attract the attention of the man in his house at the top, he'd come down to see what the noise was and Issac had joined him. The deer was led on her side, hindquarters twisted and midriff chafed raw by her struggles, panting and very, very distressed. The guy with Issac had got a towel to put over the poor thing's head, and was doing a very fine job of keeping her calm. By now a couple of colleagues from the office, Kirk and Will, also on their way out to find some lunch, had joined us as well.

Trying to ease the deer out from between the bars, either forward or astern, only caused the creature to scream, panic and struggle, with the obvious risks of doing more harm to herself. Will and Issac tried to put pressure on the bars to pull them apart, but to little avail. The lady from the cottage on the other side of the track had called a wildlife rescue charity, but said they couldn't be with us for another four or five hours. You can't fault them for that, these things are inevitably voluntary, and folks have a living to make.

Will mused over the thought that if we'd had a crowbar or something, anything to put some decent leverage on the bars . . . . I grabbed the car jack from the boot of my car. It fitted snug between the verticals, deer height above the poor creature, and as I began to wind, effortlessly spread the bars apart.

Once it looked like there was sufficient breadth, we gently untangled the deer's hind legs from the gate, then tried to lift her, ever so carefully, desperately worried about what damage she might have caused herself in her struggles before any of us had reached her.

We needn't have worried. The moment she sensed freedom, she stood of her own accord, slipped through and bolted, tripping once in her haste, but standing straight back up again, clearly very, very mobile. She gave one long indignant and accusing glare back at us, her liberators, and then turned tail and bounded into the bushes.

The five of us were left with nothing but big grins, and a somewhat mangled wrought iron gate that I figured I'd now have to explain to our landlady.

I needn't have worried, and should've known better, having known the lady concerned for as long as I have; aside from immediate concern as to how the deer had fared once free, she assured us, "No worries about bending fences and gates, etc, animals come first. 'twas my Uncle's attitude that all living creatures were safe on his land  (including big spiders) and we are all the same."

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