Tag Archives: Environment

Dashiell and the Deer

First of all, I must apologize for my long hiatus from this blog. It is amazing how much time can pass when one is busy! At least now I have a story to tell. We just recently made our own Youtube channel, and I feel one of the videos should be explained in greater detail than what I gave in its description there.

A couple of years back, I was living in a downstairs apartment in Estes Park, Colorado. I had my dog, Dashiell, with me. We had an enclosed yard, with a high enough fence to keep him safe inside and other creatures safe outside. It was a pleasant winter day without too much wind when we were visited by a small herd of deer that frequented the area of town we lived in. Though, I think some explanation for this story is due.

Dashiell is a German Shepherd mix of some kind, with more black over his body than purebreds,


Dashiell, soon after we adopted him in 2009.

and a little more svelte than some purebreds I’ve met in the past. My mother and I adopted him after he arrived on an Oklahoma farm from unknown origins.

Our guess was that he was about three years old when he came to us. Someone had loved and cared for him, as he already knew the standard commands of “sit,” “stay,” “down,” et cetera. We immediately started training him for our home. After six months on the leash, we had taught him the difference between right and left, which comes in handy when walking him through a forest on a leash. Too many times with other dogs did I find myself and the leash tangled around a tree, occasionally with one of my legs involved.

Dashiell smells the camera.

“You keep pointing that thing at me! I think it must be a treat.”

We have now had Dashiell about six years. I have learned he doesn’t like walking through puddles, or up sandy hillsides like we tried to do at Great Sand Dunes National Monument. When he is outside our yard he generally follows his nose at such a rapid rate that I must keep him on a leash so that he doesn’t wander into traffic. He has taught me a great deal about himself, and myself.

Dashiell is a gentle dog, for the most part. When he was younger he wanted to scare off the thunder and lightning when a storm would rage. He lacked any fear of inclement weather. Fortunately, with some more dedicated training, he’s ceased chasing thunder. Winter is his best time of year, by far. Watching the look of joy on his face when he’s jumping through snowdrifts as tall as he, is a joy to behold for a dog-mom.

Things brings me back to the day of the deer visitation. My apartment sat at the edge of a small field, and I was surrounded by neighbors who had lived in the area for a number of years. Some of these neighbors would feed the local deer. This, not only being illegal, is something I don’t recommend. Wild animals are just that: wild. They have instincts and intelligence and can fend for themselves. Creating a dependence upon us for winter food is not in their, nor our, best interests.

A small herd of about ten deer would come through the unfenced portion of my yard on a regular basis. They would peer at my door sometimes, their ears forward, and then go back to their leisurely grazing. This day, however, Dashiell was already outside, his first day out since wounding his foot and getting a few stitches in between his peds.

Dashiell will only occasionally bark at wild life. Usually it is a curious bark, his version of “Hey, who are you?” If it is a coyote, he tends to be more aggressive, but still curious. “This is my place!”

When the deer arrived, Dashiell was excited, but not aggressive. For some reason, he seemed to show a particular curiosity towards one particular deer. I did not find out if it was a male or female, but the deer looked young. Dashiell bounced and danced, hardly ever making a sound. Between Dashiell and the deer was my fence. I grabbed my camera, put it on movie mode, and started recording. I do love my camera, but being built primarily for still pictures, its microphone isn’t ideal. I very nearly punctured my upper lip with my teeth trying not to laugh at the spectacle of Dashiell trying to engage this deer in a game of Wild Tag.

I was very glad for this fence. The other members of the herd became the peanut gallery at the corner of my apartment. Dashiell and the deer played for upwards of fifteen minutes, many of which I filmed, while the peanut gallery looked on. They seemed somewhat annoyed, at least to me. They sometimes stared at me, stared at their friend, stared at Dashiell as he bounced back and forth across the yard.

Never once did I believe that Dashiell was into harming that deer. Nothing in his body language displayed aggression, or hunger, or viciousness. His tail wagged too freely, his bounciness, even with a wounded paw, was too jubilant, and when he did bark, his voice was too playful and his volume too soft. If he did growl, it was with a closed mouth. He did not bark like a dog defending his property or his owner, with lips pulled back and teeth bared.

Dashiell was just having a good time, as, apparently, was the deer.

I will admit I was concerned a few times when the deer came forward to meet Dashiell, that the deer would try to get through the fence, or forget it was there and crash into it. This could have meant injury to either the deer, Dashiell, or me, as I was standing fairly close and filming. It didn’t happen, though. The deer and Dashiell had a good little visit and romp, my fence and I survived unscathed, and the herd of deer eventually walked on.

Watch the video here: Dashiell and the Deer

Dashiell and the Deer play in the backyard.

Dashiell and the Deer play in the backyard.

Casualties of Copper: The Berkeley Pit, Montana

While wiling away the little free time I had at my previous job, I ran across http://sometimes-interesting.com. The articles are fascinating, well written, and each article is illustrated with enough high-quality photographs to warrant second and third looks. I admit, the article I first landed upon was about the amount of bodies on Mt. Everest, which, if you’re into the harsh consequences of pushing Mother Nature’s boundaries, you should read: http://sometimes-interesting.com/2011/06/29/over-200-dead-bodies-on-mount-everest/

If you have a weak stomach, stay away from that one. (It is a good read, though. I personally loved it. It made me dig out a book on Everest that had slipped between all my other books.)

A few weeks later, Mr/Ms/Mrs. Sometimes-Interesting posted this:

Casualties of Copper: The Berkeley Pit, Montana.

Ka-pow! The article immediately grabbed me, with the instinctual thought I always have when I run across something out of my usual reading range: Did Enos see it? Will this tell me something about him that I didn’t know before? Just a little snippet, I’m not asking for much!

The Berkeley Pit was dug decades after Enos Mills had worked there. He never saw it. Enos quit working at the Anaconda Copper Mine in 1901, but his time there gave him a unique perspective on what can happen to an environment if we pay no heed to how our industry can affect nature. He was well aware that the juggernaut of American Industry couldn’t be stopped, and he did little to try to.

Enos A. Mills, about the time he landed the job at the Anaconda Copper Mine. Or, at least one of the few times anyone could get his hair to behave. I could do a blog post just on all the funny pictures of his hair. Love the tie, I bet it was yellow. My great-grandfather, rockin' the yellow polka-dotted tie in 1887. I love it.

Enos A. Mills, about the time he landed the job at the Anaconda Copper Mine. Or, at least one of the few times anyone could get his hair to behave. I could do a blog post just on all the funny pictures of his hair.  Love the tie, I bet it was yellow. My great-grandfather, rockin’ the yellow polka-dotted tie in 1887. I love it.

Enos instead focused his efforts on saving what precious lands remained, and keeping them protected for the sanity and health of all of us who get to visit these wild lands. I’m tremendously fortunate to live on the cusp of a national park. My situation is unique in that us Millses have been in the same valley since 1871, and have remained here in one way, shape, or form almost the entire time. For those of us who live in cities and industrial areas, getting a real breath of fresh air is sometimes a unique and cleansing experience, and exactly what Enos had in mind.

I found the article enlightening and more than a little heartbreaking, as I had not done much research on the Butte, Montana, area. I knew Enos had been there, and had worked there over the span of about 13 winters, traveling or returning to his homestead in the summer and autumn. To be honest, I don’t know much about Enos’ time in Butte. I’m sure some biographers have gone into great detail about it, or at least made some assumptions, but I’ve got other books to read. No one asks me about what he did in Butte. People ask me what Enos did for Rocky Mountain National Park.

I would like to visit Butte, someday. What’s offered online about the town is interesting in an overview sort of way, but it doesn’t really show me the Butte Enos lived and worked in. Although, I did come across this:


Hey, it’s the longest running house of ill repute in the continental United States! (I make no claims that Enos ever went there. I make no claims that Enos never went there, either.)

Enos says very little about Butte. I’ve always compared it to the icky day job that paid for his youthful jaunts. He belonged to the University Club, a Poetry Club, he played baseball with the company teams sometimes and learned his trade quickly. We know he read a lot, we have his library card. When Enos was there, every walk of life went through that town. It was a hub of excitement, progressive ideas, and probably smelled really interesting, too.

It was probably good pay, and something to tolerate until he could go on walkabout back to his homestead here, near Estes Park. I don’t feel all that compelled to talk about my years as a waitress. It paid the bills and I got to travel a little, and I learned a lot about food and booze and people. Probably not unlike what Enos went through.

As it is, I will be keeping my eye on http://sometimes-interesting.com. And, I’ll be keeping my eye on news from Butte. I love it when someone can open my eyes to something, keep it up, buddy!