Deer Me

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Part of the charm of our new home in Texas has got to be the wildlife. We live near Landa Park and Panther Canyon, and so we see deer, grey fox, possums, raccoons, owls, and scores of songbirds on a daily basis. Despite being in the heart of New Braunfels, we’re still a small enough town to have deer roaming free and there’s a rather large herd that lives in our neighborhood.  After living on the Windward Side of Oahu for four years, and in the foothills of the Front Range for two years before that, it’s a welcome lifestyle for my bride and me to be away from the city and immersed in a more natural state.

The Texas Hill Country is by far my favorite part of the State. I grew up in Ft Worth, on the edge of the Great Plains and surrounded by rivers and lakes. Even as much as I sorely miss my beloved Pacific Ocean and the Hawaiian Islands (who wouldn’t?), the Texas Hill Country offers spectacular views and interesting wildlife. This on top of the funky mix of Anglo, Mexican, Indian, Czech, and German influences.

Of course, the most welcome surprise for us were the deer. My sweet bride is my very own Snow White. She has a way with the animals and they seem to instinctively see her as a friend, or even a mother. It doesn’t matter whether it’s deer, birds, ducks, dogs, cats, cows – wallabies – the animals sense her sweet nature and approach her.

We started with just a few does who grazed a slept along the back fence and in a large bush in the backyard. Soon the herd began to grow! At present, there are two groups who frequent the yard: the ones I call “The Breakfast Club” and the “Afternoon Tea” group. Some folks attract the deer with piles of corn, but we’ve really fed them sparingly. We try to respect nature and never feed the wild things too much or too often. A little corn, oats and woody feed in the winter, and uncooked veggie scraps from the kitchen. Of course, there’s always water available for the birds and critters; my bride always wants to care for the ones who have trouble caring for themselves.

One little guy in particular has been a special friend. There were two late-season fawns, we named them “Jack” and “Chip.” The photo at right (I know it’s not very good), is Chip. Jack eventually stopped coming around as he grew up and started running with the bucks. But Chip was small and stayed with his mom. He is a very sweet little guy and immediately took to my wife, Snow White.  He hears her when she’s outside, and follows her around like a little puppy.

It’s not uncommon to see Chip appear at our back door, or front door, looking for a handout or just wanting to be near my wife. He was SO little I think he truly sees her as part of the herd!

Of course, Chip is not the only deer who seems to know where the veggie scraps and corn comes from. Occasionally deer will appear at our back door and press their noses against the glass. You hate to reward that kind of behavior, but sometimes they’re just so stinkin’ cute it’s hard to say no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even had a Christmas visitor looking into the house – the one we call Big Buck. We were sitting on the couch reading when Snow White said, “Mickey, look at the back door.” When I  looked up from my book, there was what I could only describe as Santa’s Texas Contingent peeking into the window checking up on us. I hope he reported back good things!

It was interesting to see the turning of the seasons: spring and summer fawns growing up, bucks and does separating into groups, yearling bucks getting their first horns, rut, pregnant does, and the winter followed by spring movement of the herd. The bucks especially, fresh off their first conquests and sorting into the hierarchy of Alphas and the rest were bolder in the winter.  I supposed that contributed to Big Buck’s decision to sign up for Santa’s Texas Contingent and report back to the North Pole on our fitness for St Nick’s visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll be moving from this house at the end of the summer to our “permanent” residence here in Comal County. I’m certain Snow White will soon be “mom” to a host of sweet little animals who will grace us with their innocent affection. When we move, we’ll take some great memories with us.

 

 

 

 

 


Mickey is a consultant, author, and keynote speaker. He believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams, Mickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.

Sign up for my mailing list and get Mickey’s Rules for Leaders ebook as a thank you!

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Tourist in My New Hometown

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Leaving Hawaii for the second time to return to the Mainland was extremely difficult for my bride and I. Not because we don't love our family or the land of our birth--we do--but because once you've tasted Paradise it's awfully hard not to compare everything else to that.

We lived in a little town on the Windward Side of O'ahu called Kailua (Hawaiian: "Two Waters"), where I could slide my kayak or standup paddle board off the back steps and paddle to the warm Pacific Ocean any time I wanted. It was a lovely little town filled with the spirit of Aloha and with a strong sense of healthy community. We formed strong friendships in those four years, and renewed our love of those islands after being away for 11 years after our last four year tour.

Landa Park - Wurstfest

However, work and family brought us home, and so we searched for a similar "vibe" in the Greater San Antonio area and found it in New Braunfels. We instantly fell in love with the beautiful mix of German, Czech, Mexican, and American culture here. As we always did during our 16 moves-in-30-year Air Force career, we became tourists in our new home. 

Imagine a small Texas town with dozens of live music venues, brew pubs, shops, and eateries--and of course Wurstfest, our little version of Munich's Oktoberfest!

 

Of course the first draw for me was water, and there is a LOT here in New Braunfels. The city sits at the confluence of the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers; the former spring-fed and the latter fed from the Edwards Aquifer and Canyon Lake. They're both fun for tubing, kayaking, and rafting!

With the Comal at a constant 75 degrees all the time, it's actually accessible year-round in the mild Texas winters.

Ich Bin Klein

The city itself has an amazing Faust Street Bridge over the Guadalupe, so photogenic! I snapped this particular photo on a late evening walk in August while we were staying at some riverfront condos in New Braunfels' east side. We had to wait for the air to cool off!

King Iron and Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio constructed the bridge in 1887. It was originally a wagon and pedestrian trestle, but now is a pedestrian and cycling bridge. Just across the bridge is the old Mission Valley Cotton Mill, and later the New Braunfels Textile Mill, that employed 100 people from 1923 to 2005. It's slated for redevelopment into an upscale mixed use apartment and shopping area.

Aside from the Missions, Sts Peter and Paul Catholic church was built in 1871, and is one of the oldest churches in Texas. It became the permanent home for the Catholics of New Braunfels who'd worshiped without a church since their arrival in 1844. It's German roots are evident in the stained glass windows where German and English prayers are side by side. This one is among my favorites, and it's a children's prayer.

 

Then there's Landa Park. Right in the heart of the city, this "mini-Central Park" hosts the Panther Canyon hiking trial, ducks, fish, and deer. All the animals are very tame, and will approach for snacks if you're still and quiet.

The Park is very quaint, and gets a tremendous number of visitors daily. Cyclists, Mom's groups, joggers, fishermen, walkers, and naturalists. It hosts and Arboretum and a Dance "Slab" for gatherings in the summer, and it's very popular for family photos and wedding photo shoots. Landa Park has a natural swimming pool with a rope swing and water slides, a miniature train that circles the park, and of course an ice cream stand for hot summer days!

Landa Drive Bridge at the Panther Canyon Trailhead
Backyard Deer

 

Speaking of deer--there's a herd of probably several hundred that roam the neighborhoods here. Our first "housewarming party" arrived with fawns in tow to browse in the backyard. They've been a daily fixture ever since, and a couple of the bravest young deer have been known to eat out of our hands.

 


Mickey is a consultant, author, and keynote speaker. He believes everyone can reach high levels of performance if inspired and led. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC.

Mickey is the author of seven books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams, Mickey's Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be's: A Straighforward Guide to Life.

Sign up for my mailing list and get Mickey's Rules for Leaders ebook as a thank you!

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