Sunday, July 3, 2011

Oh Deer, oh Deer

For many years I had a small garden in the back yard and various flower gardens scattered around the property.  I learned a long time ago that deer liked tulips and started planting early, middle and late varieties, so that no matter which ones the deer got each year (and they always got some) the others would still bloom.

It was always a big joke that the darn deer would wait until the one tulip that was left to grow by my side door was just about to bloom before one of these wise guys would suddenly chomp it down.  My hubby would burst into laughter.  Other people would tell me to get a dog.  I not only had a dog at the time, but he slept just inside that doorway. He never paid any attention to the deer.

In the garden I grew many things over the years, but had finally settled on tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. I liked to stir fry that combination for my lunch. I'd check the zucchini every day, waiting for it to be just the size I wanted. Apparently the deer liked that size too, as it would always have bites out of it, or be just about polished off when I'd decide to go out to pick it. If it was a dry year, the deer would bite off the tomatoes, suck the juices out of them, and then spit them back into the garden. I'm pretty sure they chomped on the pepper plants too, but I really can't remember now. I do know there was absolutely no point in trying to grown green beans as the deer really liked those plants.

Gardeners in this neighbourhood tried every kind of deer deterrent, including human hair and one male neighbour even tried peeing around his garden plot. Nothing worked. I eventually gave up wasting my money on what I had come to think of as "deer food" and I have not planted a vegetable garden since.

Then we had the winter with the really deep snow, and between that and the culling of deer about the same time in Lanark county (they were destroying too many farmer's crops too), and the increase in coyotes, the deer population went down considerably.  Thankfully I was no longer hearing stories every week of people I know hitting a deer.  The roadways had become safer, and it seemed the gardens had too.
I had just thought it would be nice to pull out the blackberries the birds had kindly planted in what used to be my veggie garden (AFTER this year's crop, of course) and maybe plant a real garden next year.  I rather miss having my own lunch time veggies growing here. Then this morning a neighbour phoned and told me there was a deer out behind her house and it had been there for at least 20 minutes. She told me to come on over and watch it with her. 

The grass is long in that field, and while we stood on the deck and watched, the deer stood in the shade of some bushes, happily munching away.  She knew we were there and stopped to look at us from time to time, but never made any attempt to move away from us. 

Eventually she crossed the ditch into the field on the other side, and then started walking towards the nearest house.  She seemed totally unconcerned that it was broad daylight and there was really no place for her to hide if she felt the need. 

I'm told there was a deer with a fawn in the field the other day. I don't know if this was the same deer, or another one, but I do know that they are not usually alone like this in these parts.  There have been as many as 17 deer in that field, all at the same time.  They think nothing of crossing the street to get to my yard.  I may not have the vegetable garden anymore (or the tulips either since they managed to get all three varieties a few years back) but I do still have an apple tree that they seem to like.  I found out last year that they are very fond of hostas too.  Oh, that reminds me.....I better get out there and put some Irish Spring on top of some garden stakes or I'll wake up some morning and find nothing but hosta stems.  Irish Spring, by the way, actually seems to work if you suspend it just above the height of the plant you are trying to protect. 

I guess the blackberries can stay after all.

1 comment:

  1. Deer sound quite nice... I have nightmares about Japanese Beetles. Even in the winter. It is a WAR (and I'm losing).