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Sandy Reay


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The Dead Deer

A true story of how things happen

by Sandy Reay

Parts 17 - 21 added March 31, 2023




Do you have any stories about your wild animals (or strange neighbors) that you'd like to share?
Please contact Sandy

The grave in the meadow, with leafless willows in the midground Ponderosa pines in the background
Facebook post: My neighbor up the hill (one of the good guys) can see my front yard and street better than I can. His house is behind the two bare trees. He saw a dead doe across the street from me and watched the bears drag it into my yard to eat it. When the weather got cold enough, the bears went into hibernatioin, and he buried what was left of the deer in my front yard, complete with a cross made from twigs by her head, and a reed planted at the other end. He is so proud of what he did. I now have a deer buries in my yard, which I'm certain is a violation of the HOA covenants. No, I didn't tell my neighbor, but I called my buddy in the architectural
Facebook post continued: improvements office, left a message to tell him what happened, and asked for advice. Now, I picture him listening to my voice mail and laughing, then playing it back for everyone in the HOA office andour Security patrol, and all of them laughing. After 22 years here, most of them know me. How do I tell my handyman that we have to excavate a deer? How can I save the skull for the two people who will fight over it? Why am I not the least bit surprised that this happened to me?
Tom's response to my post: Plant some endangered species atop the grave. Happy face emoji. Stacy's response so my post: This reminds me of the time I pointed out and confessed to a landlord that I had (gently) backed into my garage door. He had no idea who cracked it and it was still 100% functional. Guess who paid for an entire new garage door? Hand on face emoji. No need to rat yourself out, is there? puzzled face emoji
My response to Stacy: too late now. My dad told me I was too honest for my own good. but the critters will dig it up, and I'll have a hole and body parts all over my property. Stacy's response: the neighbor didn't dig a deep enough hole! winking tongue-out face emoji, laughing tears emojie. My response to Stacy: true
Stacy: Who's getting the skull? Tom: I gave San a cow skull I didn't want so maybe she owes me. Just kidding of course. Me: I'll let you and Deb decide. Whoever wants it in its current condition (think frozen and/or rotting flesh) can come get it.

Dec. 8, 2021 (Part 1)

My neighbor who lives up the hill led me down to a spot in my front yard that I can't see from my window. “A dead doe was lying on the side of the road. Two bears dragged it across the road into your yard and ate two legs. When it got cold enough for the bears to hibernate, I buried it in your yard, made a cross from twigs at her head, and planted a reed from the creek at the other end.”

“Did you call the county to come pick it up?”

“It was there for a few days. I called the county. They told me it would take three weeks before they'd get to it.”

I should be angry at him for burying the deer on my property, but I'm not. He's a nice guy, just new to living with wildlife. I've lived here for twenty-two years and I've never had to deal with a dead deer. I found a dead rabbit in the trees once, but nothing larger. I felt bad for the deer. And, I was about to have a new experience. Usually, I like new experiences.

Certain what he did is against the Home Owners Association (HOA) covenants, I called my buddy at the HOA and described my predicament, picturing him laughing as he listened to my message.

The next time I went out, I took a picture of the grave from the road, posted about it on Facebook, and wrote about it in my journal.

I wish I had taken screen shots.

My buddy at the HOA didn't call me back.

Barb's comment: Just as an aside, the enclosed came from a deer vertebra found by a friend in North Carolina. You might want to dig up your deer and let it do the natural thing. And save one of the vetebra. Image: a deer vertebra on dead leaves, with 7 protusions like an oblong symetrical star, two small round holes near the center on the side of a protusion, with a larger half-circle hole beneath the protrusion make it look like happy-face cartoon character
Kim's comment: It's rare to have a medium size, cloven-hooved, fawn colored deer receive a grave marker cross and a Christian burial. It's the beginnings of an all-inclusive Pay/Foot Hill. The HOA may get a bit ruffled up. My response: We are forbidden from buying pets on our property. But the deer wasn't a pet, and I didn't bury it. I can't wait for the covenants people to try to deal with this. 3 crying-lauging face emojis
Kim's response: Tell 'em it was a sanctified Christian purple cross emoji burial. The deer is waiting just on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. rainbow emoji. Linda's comment: It's illegal in my area to bury our pets in our yards. I do itout of a love and respect for a creature that gave me love. I think most of my friends and family do this; and one of my neighbors confessed there are at least eight pets buried in her yard. woman with hands up emoji. turquoise butterfly emoji.
Catherine's comment: Tell the HOA it was a sacred burial of a Native American spirit animal... and therefore annot be disturbed. Ed's comment: three people... My response: you want the head? Ed's answer: LOL. No.


a closer photo of the deer's grave
part 1 of post: I'm taking a break from writing character sketches to update you all on the problem of the deer buried in my front yard. For those who missed it, the deer was killed (probably by a truck, dragged into my front meadow by 2 bears, and buried (minus two legs but with a twig cross and a rush plant dug up from my creek) by my neighbor (who means well). I left a message with my buddy in the HOA management office. Today, I dropped by the HOA office talked to my buddy. "Yes, I got your message. It made me laugh. I made a not to give you a waiver on the buried animal in the yard." Me: "Come Spring, it will be a rotting, smelly mess that will attract all meat-eating"
animals." We came up with a new plan, and my buddy said, "Let's tell the Manager." Manager of HOA: "I'm not sure that's a covenant violation." Me: "I'm not supposed to bury a pet on my property. But, it's not a pet. And, I didn't bury it." Manager: "If he'd left it where it was, Security would have called the county, and they'd have come out in a couple of days to pick it up. If you dig it up now, it'll be covered with dirt and they'll wonder what happened." My buddy: "We came up with a solution." Me: "I'm going to buy a shitload of composting stuff and cover the grave with it and a bunch of big rocks."
My buddy: "I'm gonna write a waiver for the compost pile. (That's against the HOA rules, too, because compost piles attract bears.) Manager: *Eye roll*

Dec. 22, 2021 (Part 2)

I had trouble retrieving my old posts from Facebook. Apparently, "dead" and "death" are words that bother them because: suicide. (To quote Dave Barry, "I am not making this up.")

So I used a closer photo of the deer's grave and recreated my conversation with the folks at my HOA.

In March, 2023, I accidentally figured out how to retrieve old posts: I used the Facebook search function and key words to bring up the original post.

I was surprised to find that I'd used a writing meme as the image and none of the comments had to do with my visit to the HOA.

My memory is not identical to my post. This is why memoir is not the same as non-fiction. I liked the story as I remembered it. You can decide if it's better or worse than the original post.

I dropped off my HOA dues. My buddy was there.

“Did you get my message about the dead deer?”


“Did you laugh?” My priorities might need an adjustment.

“Yes. I've just been busy. And, it's cold out. I'll write you a waiver for having an animal buried on your property.”

“As soon as the weather gets warm, every coyote, dog, and bear in the neighborhood will be in my front yard, trying to eat the bloated doe.”

“That's a problem.”

We discussed solutions, agreed, and found the assistant head of the HOA. She did not laugh. “I'm not sure that burying the deer on the property is a covenant violation.”

Not what I was expecting. “I know I'm not allowed to bury a pet on my property, but the deer wasn't a pet, and I didn't bury it.”

She frowned. “If he hadn't buried it, Security would have spotted it and called the county to pick it up. It doesn't take three weeks. Who did he call?”

“I don't know.”

“You can't dig it up and put it on the side of the road now, because it will be covered in dirt. They'll be suspicious about how it died."

My buddy laughed. “Tell 'em our solution.”

I grinned. “I'm going to buy a shitload of composting stuff, pour it on the deer grave, and put big rocks on it.”

She rolled her eyes.

My buddy said, “I'm going to write up a waiver for her to compost the deer.”

Composting is against the covenants, too.

image of Facebook post Dead deer part 3. Compost starter not available at local stores this time of year. Canorder online. Or, go to the grocery store. Best handyman ever will dig a trench/fire break around grave, to avoid fire. How hot is hot regarding compost piles?
5. Stir well, until all of the ifredients are thoroughly blended and then pour the solution slowly over the compost heap


Dec. 23, 2021 (Part 3)

Best handyman ever and I went to the Big Box lumber/hardware/whatever store to look for compost starter. They told us to come back in the Spring. We looked for lime. Apparently that's seasonal, but concrete with lime is not. I don't think concrete is the answer.

So, I went to Google, the answer to everything. While I found compost starters online, I also found a recipe for compost starter and made a shopping list:

  • beer
  • cola
  • ammonia

I already had a 5 gallon bucket and warm water. Piece of cake.

This close to Christmas, my friends were NOT interested in compost starters. Or recipes that include ammonia. Go figure. Maybe it was the lack of a photo with bright colors to grab their attention.

Or, Facebook took it down because "dead."

I got a closer shot of the buried dead deer (was was left after the bears' pre-hibernation feast). It seems my neighbor did ot bury it too deeply. Or, the deer is decomposing and bloating-the dangers of animals attempting music. Beer and soda are not for New Years Eve. They're for homemade compost starter. You can toast the new year. I'll compost a dead deer. #songidea
red wagon with 2 quarts of ammonia, a 12-pack of light beer, and a 12-pack of generic cola
JJ's response to my post: They won't find the body, when I'm done out here. Ammonia and cola and a twleve pack of beer. music notes emojis. Sandy's response: We are so writing this song!!!
Deb's post: I've got chemistry/I've got plants/she'll be gone by springtime/I swear by all these cans. My response: 'all these can'. Her response: yeah, you're hearing the same melody I hadn't quite dialed in, I think...something along the lines of 'loving you was easier...' but I can't quite remember the song...BeeGees? Sandy's response: It's only deer/and beer is all I have/to compost it away

Dec. 29, 2021 (Part 4a)

Posting a photo of the grave and a red wagon with beer, cola, and ammonia did the trick. Maybe waiting a week for post-holiday boredom did the trick. Or, I'm suddenly a celebrity.







Sandy's post: Ammonia is not a singable word musical notes emoji I swear by the noon and the starts up above musical notes emoji question mark
Deb's post: hey, if Caledonia can be sung, ammonia will work. Sandy's response: ok. But it's not breathable. Kent's post: When the fumes burn your ey and it feels like you'll cry, That Ammonia ... with apologies to Dean Martin
Deb's post: Bridge. When your friends are all songwriters and a deer was buried in your lot/your home has warmth and equity, much more so than the HOA had thought. Catherin's post: Are you going to blow it sky high? Kent's post: There should be a composition about this situaton. A musical one in the key of D ... in short, a D composition
text to best handyman ever: You can toast the new year. I'll compost a dead deer. His reply: Are you going to start composting the deer tomorrow? Probably not. I think it needs warmer nights and a safety zone. Not a HIghway to the Danger Zone.  

Dec. 29, 2021 (Part 4b)

I went shopping and loaded my all-purpose little red wagon to bring in the ingredients* for the compost starter.

*What's the difference between materials and ingredients? If you buy them at a grocery store, they're ingredients, regardless of their use.

I took a photo of the wagon and texted it to Best Handyman Ever. I was on a roll, with bad original song lyrics and destroying (composting?) far-better song lyrics.

Facebook post: Today my neighbor and his wife left a cast iron doorstop on my front steps. It goes with my collection in the front garden. It's either an apology for buying the dead deer in my front yard, or a warning that he's going to bury a dead pig in my yard next.
photograph of an iron pig doorstop. The pig is beige, with a large and small round black circles on its body. It's standing on a mound of green grass.

Dec. 31, 2021 (Part 5)

It's not the head of a dead horse (or deer), and it wasn't left in my bed. Just a small iron door stop.

I collect iron door stops. I can't get much to grow in the front garden, but the bright primary colors of the doorstops make up for the lack of flowers.

This is a small beige and dark green doorstop. I know they meant well, and it might have been an apology gesture. Or a warning about dead pigs.

I choose to believe it was a "I found this in an antique mall and knew you'd love it" gift.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Facebook post: Dead deer episode WTF? I cleaned up dog pee on the floor with Windex and water in a buckt. BHE (best handyman ever) cleared a space around the grave of the deer and poured the Windex water on it. Sunnyy and 55 degrees. Ground is frozen solid. No composting gonna happen. A neighbor told me the kids in the neighborhood love the deer grave, and think all the dead animals should be buried in my front yard. Terry G wrote, "Oh my! I can see it now: The Sandy Reay Memorial Gardens: Where you deer ones rest in pieces. winking tongue-out emoji"


Jan. 13, 2022 (Part 6)

We got Winter in January. Now I know why compost starter is seasonal. I have to wait until it stops freezing at night (and in the daytime, too).

In Colorado, that might take until late June.

Facebook post: The saga of the dead deer. No tracks in the snow. No sign of composting. Waiting for Spring.
a photograph of a snow-covered meadow with a cross sticking out from a snow drift, in front of leafless willow trees
Deb's comment: Wait ... it's gone? My response: no. It's under several inches of snow. If it were composting the snow would melt. Tom's reply: no tracks = no scavengers? Or was resurrection an option? My answer: no scavengers, no visiting relatives, and (I'm assuming) no resurrections. But someone plowed my driveway.

Feb. 7, 2022 (Part 7)

Winter happened. But I liked the shot from my car, so I posted it.

My response: *The deer's relatives* Tom: It could be a Shawshelk Redemption kind of situation. Check the ditch. Me: Nor my relatives, now that I think about it. Me (again): Tom, nothing in the ditch or creek. I'll check Comcast for the movie.
Deb: I was think resurrection. Stacy: photo of imaginary deer (or ghost of a deer) in the forest with glowing antlers and lit stripes on its legs
Calisse's comment: The saga continues sad face emoji. My response: I could say it's on ice for now, buts it's just under the snow.
A Facebook post Text: Shelter from the storm 9 dows and fawns
parts of the does visible through the trees and railing on the garage roof
Comments. Terry: Party at Sandy's house! Or did they come looking for their currently decomposing comrade? Sandy: They walked past her grave. I did NOT go out to ake pictures of hoof prints.


Feb. 16, 2022 (Part 8a)

I like to see the deer in my yard. The storm was a good opportunity to take pictures from the bedroom window, across the garage roof.

It was a good opportunity for a friend to remind me of the buried deer.

While I watched the does walk near the grave, I can't see the grave from my bedroom window.

Facebook post. Text: No deer tracks near the grave
photo showing the cross on the grave, shadows of trees on the snow, and what might have been a foot melted an refrozen boot print

Feb. 27, 2022 (Part 8b)

The storm lasted a while, but the sun came out, so I did too. On my way home from shopping, I stopped in the street to take a picture of the grave with snow, but no hoof prints.


Stacy brought this to my attention. They still do that. I might have to take another look at the dead deer problem. Cryogenics vs composting. Do you think it would increase my property value when I sell the house? And I'd have a place to put the sign Terry suggested, with a modification: 'The Sandy Reay Memorial Gardens (cryogenic chamber) where your dee ones can rest in pieces.' Last week I stopped in at the HOA and wound up telling the Head HOncho about the whole thing. He said, 'That's a sign I would approve. If I'd alreay turned in my resignation and it was my last day on the job.'

post of the top of a WIkipedia article about Frozen Dead Guys Days


Mar. 15, 2022 (Part 9)

My friend Stacy sent me a link to a Wikipedia article about Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, a mountain town above Boulder.

Of course I sent an email to my buddy in the HOA. I used to have a shed on my property, but it fell apart. I could build another shed. Just not where my neighbor had buried the dead deer.

I wonder why he doesn't answer my emails any more?


email to HOA: Cryogenics vs composting (link to Frozen Dead Guy Days on Wikipedia) Would this be considered a shed?

Barbs post with a link to a Smithsonian Magazine article: Colorado Composts Its First Human Remains
Deb's coment: In Sandy Reay's yard?

Mar. 26, 2022 (Part 10)

It had to be Colorado, right? Don't other states have people coming up with cryogenics and composting for human remains.

And on Facebook, any post is fair game for a dead deer reference.

myFacebook post: Another latenight. I surprisedmyself by waking early today. Mother Nature surprised me by melting the new snow and old ice off my driveway yesterday. I wheeled the big trash can out to the street and surprised 6 new dows (last year's fawns) in my front yard. I apologized for spooking them, assured them I was no danger, and we walked together down to the street. My phone was still charging or I would have tried for a photo.
Ed's comment: You didn't bury them in the yard while you were out there?
My comment: to Ed and Kent: I don't bury live deer! I don't bury dead deer either. My neighbor does. Deb's comment: that's a chorus


Mar. 29, 2022 (Part 11)

Any post with deer is fair game.

But it's starting to feel like Spring.

And the new does (last years fawns) think my smooth (short-haired) Collie is a fawn that lives with me. Years ago, Leo would touch noses with the deer over the backyard fence, but one night, a doe jumped into the yard with us.

I got a great video of her on the grass and dirt hill and Leo pacing on the patio waiting for me to open the back door so he could escape into the house.

When I walked back toward Leo and the back door, the doe charged me. She only took a few steps. As soon as I stopped, she stopped charging, but she pawed the ground.

I talked to her, a nice calm voice, and assured her that she was a good girl, a pretty girl, and I wasn't going to hurt the little (65-pound) fawn. When she backed off, I eased over to the back door, and Leo and I escaped.

Sometimes I wonder what that doe thought about the odd-smelling fawn who lived in a house with a human.


Comments. Me: My posts about the former doe that my neighbor interred on my front lawn keep disappearing. Deb: Oh, deer. (No, that will never get old.)


Apr. 13, 2022 (Part 12)

My posts about the dead deer disappeared from my page on Facebook.

A specimen of Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as Deam man's fingers. Dead man's fingers is a saprobic fungus which comsumes the poly saccharides in timber, leaving behind soft, nutrient-rich debris on which many invertebrates feed. It is fairly common in the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe and parts of North America. It is recognized by its elongated upright, clavate, of strap-like stromata poking up through the ground, much like fingers, and with the fruiting body often appearing like burned wood. Fittingly named, these swollen, blackened fingers reaching for the sky seem as if someone buried under the woodland floor is trying to make one final attempt at escaping.  

May 2, 2022 (Part 13)

My posts about the dead deer disappear, but that doesn't stop the comments.

photograph of Xylaira polymorpha, Dead Man's Fingers
If that is growing out of your dead deer graveyard, you should move now!


Yard work season started today. We cleared a fire gap around the compost area. Strangers asked if we were digging up the former 4-footed female. They approved our plan. The whole freaking neighborhood is in on it.
Best Handyman Ever

Fire break cleared

Firebreak sealed with "topsoil," which is clay. The next rain/snow will turn it into a hard crust.


May 5, 2022 (Part 14)

Best Handyman Ever and I prep the area over and around the grave of the dead deer. We need to wait until the temperature stays above freezing at night. No sign of carnivores digging up the former deer.

Hard to keep this hidden

comments. Debbie: Just wait til they start giving directions like make a right where the deer is buried ...... smile emoji  Me: did you know FB hides posts with dead in them because someone decided it encourages suicide?  Image of a post: Do not post anything with the word death in it, for it shall be taken down. This was from 20217: We Had to Remove Something You Posted. There are certain kinds of posts about suicide or self-injury that we don't allow on Facebook, because we want to promote a safe environment. You can learn more about this in our Community Standards. If you're going through a difficult time, we want to share ways you can find support.

For those of you who wondered what happened with the surprise my neighbor left in my front yard last December, BHE and I applied the first (and last) compost starter. When we mixed the compost starter in with the topsoil, we dug up an artifact, exactly as shown (minus some topsoil). I don’t know what it came from, but it was cut cleanly with a fine-tooth blade by human hands. There’s no way a bear could have cut a bone like that.  I have no idea what my neighbor did, at this point, but he’s been acting weird (upset, hostile, hiding and spying on me) since I told him about the covenant violations and the composting last week.
I called our chief of security and told him the story; my neighbor’s story is odd—bears wouldn’t have been out in December. Mountain lions and coyotes, not bears. But, chief agreed that something strange happened and should be investigated. He told me to call the county sheriff.  I called the county sheriff and explained the whole story. The deputy said “criminal trespass,” but since it involves wild animals, it should be investigated by Parks and Wildlife first.  I called the Parks and Wildlife office in my county. They agree that something strange happened, but the deer should be gone by now. And they have a six-month backlog.

June 10, 2022 (Part 15)

The grave was too small for a doe. When Best Handyman Ever and I dug up the ground for the compost, this is what we found. Nothing in my weird neighbor's story can account for this.

fossilized bone dug up when we tossed the soil with the compost solution

side view of fossilized bone showing parallet cuts about 1/2" thick


I killed the fruit fly image with my avatar  

July 13, 2022 (Part 16)

I learned to kill fruit flies on my computer screen while I waited for Parks and Wildlife people to get back to me.

Comments. Tom: But did you kill the deputy? Me: No. But I resurrected the mouse. Deb: but where's the deer? Tom: apparently it was a dormouse with a typo Me: I don't know. The folks from Wildlife via the HOA told men not to dig it up.



July 13, 2022 (Part 17)

I'm still waiting for Parks and Wildlife to get back to me.

Facebook brought up a memory: sunset, my retired show-dog Leo, a smooth (short-haired) collie and his girlfriend, a young childless doe.

She joined us in the back yard. I walked away to get photos from a different angle. When I walked back toward Leo, she decided to protect him. From me. She charged toward me and pawed the ground.

I stopped and talked to her in a soothing tone. She calmed down, and I made it to the back door. Leo squeezed into the house first. He doesn't touch noses with deer anymore. He barks at them.

Facbook memory: July 18, 2018 Leo's girfriend came back.
Last year’s female fawns become this year’s fawnless does. Leo is the right size and color to look like a fawn, and has a long nose and stand up ears. Every year, the new does look at him. He used to touch noses with them. One doe brought her fawn to the fence to meet him.  This girl was obsessive about him. She’d be outside the fence in the twilight, nibbling on lilac leaves to get as close as possible to him. He liked her. They’d touch noses.  She was okay with me taking pictures. One night, she hopped the fence and joined us in the back yard. Leo got nervous so he moved close to the door, and I went up the steps to get a video. The doe stayed in the dirt on the hill above the patio.
When I walked back toward Leo, she ran a few steps to me and reared up, dropped down, and pawed the ground with her front hooves. Leo was now her fawn.  I had a discussion with her, quiet voice, and she calmed down enough to let me go to Leo. We went in the house. Leo was shaking.  After that, I gave him permission to bark at the deer. He doesn’t make friends with them any more.



July 22, 2022 (Part 18)

I had cataract surgery yesterday, and I'm still waiting for Parks and Wildlife to get back to me.

I kept the dogs in till late to kep them away from the doe. Put them out for 10 minutes. Opened the door to 2 dogs and a doe.  

July 23, 2022 (Part 19)

Another Facebook memory. I was wrong about Leo barking at the doe to keep her away. We're all waiting for Parks and Wildlife to get back to us.


Comments. Ken: So it sprouted? Catherine: I would have expected a more lush patch by now. Sandy: I don't know what he buried, but it's a shallow grave and the carnivores didn't dig it up.
Comment. Kim: Maybe some more rain and grass growth and then the truth will be revealed, like invisible ink.

August 6, 2022 (Part 20)

Parks and Wildlife are MIA, but the grave remains, and the photo shows the remains of the grave.

No need to compost. Anybody need ammonia, cheap beer, and generic coke?

At least I got a new lawn-mowing service.

old photo of a doe with two fawns walking through my yard
Mama doe and 2 fawns came by again (memory from 2018)

Aug 8, 2022 (Part 21)

Another deer memory. And the saga ends, not with a whimper, but a deer parade.

Comments. Ed: Is this a deer funeral? Sandy: no. Just a parade. music emoji I love a parade music emoji. Deb to Ed: looking for uncle buck out buried in the yard


Comments: Ed: Like a deer zombie apocalypse; Deb: i mean there's still the one that's buried...; Ed: Deb are we SURE it's still buried?

Apr 24, 2023 (Part 22)

The fawns have outgrown their spots but not their winter coats. The does are sleek. Three does and their fawns were grazing in my neighbor's yard when I got home. I stopped the car and grabbed my phone. They eyed me for a moment then grazed again. I shot through my (dirty) window.

I should not have posted it on Facebook. Some of my friends have a long memory.

Comment: Deb: Ed not at all... + black and white image of buck's head with horns