Marty’s photos of the day #4480-4481: Deb’s and my house sits roughly in the middle of the 25-acre Essen Wildlife Refuge. A long gravel driveway comes in from the side, crosses in front of the house, and wraps around to our garage. A long raised porch runs across the front of our house, the porch has a railing with slats that drop to the floor, and there is a gate at the steps on each end of the porch. Our porch doubles as my summer outdoor office and a playpen for our dog, Nellie.

Since Nellie can’t leave the porch unless I open a gate, the wild animals have learned that it’s safe to approach, even if Nellie is screaming, “Dad! Dad! It’s a killer squirrel! Let me out, and I’ll save our pack!”

While we see deer, moose, elk, fox, and other animals from our porch, the doe in this photo has adopted us this year. Practically every evening she stops by for an hour or so to graze next to our wrap-around driveway.

I’ve tried to figure out why she does this, as there are certainly better places to graze on our land than right in front of the house. I’ve narrowed it down to three reasons:

1. The doe has figured out that Nellie can’t leave the porch and has reasoned that both Nellie and I give her safety—because no predator would dare attack her under our watch.

2. The doe has a fawn with her (in the second photo), but the fawn is too scared to come as close to the house as she does. Perhaps the house gives the doe a welcome respite from the demands of motherhood.

3. I have a stereo system out on the porch, because I always have to have music playing when I’m writing my books. Perhaps the doe has become a Nightwish, Garbage, or Halestorm fan!