The little herd strolled and nibbled its way around the house, at first warily watching us watch them from the windows. After a while, the animals were unconcerned about our comings and goings as long as we didn't move abrubptly or make loud noises.
One member had velvety antlers and a taste for the lambs quarters that grow here and there in the shade next to the house.
The cats, who were terrified of deer last fall, now seem to realize how harmless they are and pay them little mind.
From my observation point just inside the open garage door, I watched a funny little drama unfold. Obie sauntered around to the north side where the deer were munching away. He caught the attention of the buck, whose eyes suddenly glowed with curiosity and who moved toward Obie with an expression of joyful discovery on his face. If you conclude something from all the deer-and-cat photos on the internet, deer are fascinated by housecats.
Obie sensed the buck's approach from behind and turned to see what was going on. He locked eyes with the deer and developed a hilarious expression of his own, a mixture of bafflement and concern. He picked up his pace a little, but didn't run. The buck moved closer. Obie moved faster, adopting that gait cats have where they make their legs really short and move them in a walk so fast it looks like they're on wheels. Obie saw me in the garage and headed for me, with the deer closing in.
Obie broke into a run and zipped into the garage and hid behind my legs. The deer saw me and--looking crestfallen--slowed his approach before turning away and resuming his lunch. Obie stuck close to me for the rest of the day. The deer moved on, but unhurriedly.