Late in the afternoon the deer begin to trickle in to my safe haven.
They come singly or in pairs. Most of the time I have five regulars. But in extreme conditions, I've had as many as 16 deer visitors all at the same time.
This deer, whom I call Lucy, gravitates to the longer lasting deer feed. I'm not sure if she likes this kind better, or if she's learned she's not high enough in the pecking order to eat from the tastier brand.
The Purina Premium Deer Block is the more popular kind, and it lasts anywhere from two days to a week, depending on the conditions. With this current deep freeze, this brand has been lasting no more than three days.
Sometimes the deer really attack the feed block, pulling off large chunks of it with each bite, which is another signal of their voracious appetites in the winter.
As this deer stands up from eating, it catches sight of me at the window with my camera. That doesn't stop it from licking its chops after its tasty meal.
After a while, the deer get their fill and begin to meander off to their next stop on the circuit. Sometimes they return during the night for more feed. At times Gracie will emit a low growl during the night, and I've flicked on my floodlight. Looking out the window, I've found my whole little herd there eating in the moonlight.
As I begin to put away my camera gear, I glance out the window another time. It looks like the deer aren't the only ones who are cold and hungry and needing extra sustenance to get through the winter.