Gail was in very good spirits today. It's January 1, 2012, and she believes it is going to be a good year. Me, too. I think that 2012 is the year that we will gradually see a transformation from Deauville being a deer farm, to Deauville being an organic vegetable, fruit and egg farm. And it will also be the year that the film ceases to be something only in our imagination and takes shape into a final product.
|Gail Rose and her Fallow Deer|
The second problem we discovered was more significant. Erosion on the back flank of the farm had covered a section of fence maybe 80 feet long with enough soil that the fence now stands only 3 feet high in places. Gail shook her head when she saw how bad it's gotten, saying "Thank God the deer haven't discovered this spot since they could just about walk over it." She bravely added that it was the next "big job" ahead. I couldn't imagine what she could do about it, but she explained that she'd run a new length of fence along that section.
And for now, we would herd the deer over to the central and right hand paddocks, and then close the gates to this section. I thought to myself, "No problem -- I've herded cattle before," and headed confidently out above where they stood. But Gail quickly called to me to slow down. "The deer will panic" Gail cautioned us. "We have to go very slowly." I saw how they seem just one step away from bolting at the sight of the humans doing something unusual. Following Gail's lead, we'd take a few steps then wait. Finally, in jerky, stilted, fits and starts the herd moved the way we wanted, seeking their escape into the central paddock and off to the far right side of the farm.
So today when I arrived again with my brother, intent on filming an update interview with Gail, she said, "Well that's it. That side of the farm will not see deer again." I realize it's an important step toward phasing out the deer, but there's still about 60 does and their fawns, and so I worried about the coming snows and freezing temperatures. In winter, the deer have taken to seeking refuge in the barn and will no longer have access to it. But Gail of course already had a plan for that. She will open the right side of the barn to them since it could be accessed from the central paddock. She said it will take about 3 weeks for them to grow accustomed to the new arrangement, but "they're smart and they'll figure it out."
And meanwhile, in a spot where the deer used to wander freely, there's a new pumpkin patch taking form in Gail's imagination. Far back in a lovely corner of the farm that few visitors have ever seen, she has one "perfect acre" of cleared land left from a previous farmer. All the rock has been painstakingly removed to the edges of this open acre in the forest, and the land used to be used for corn. So this is Deauville's future pumpkin patch.
And so begins the transformation of Gail's farm....