Hi, everyone! Well, it’s summer, and if you’ve been reading this column for a long time, you know that my summer subject at some point, will be DEER! And what a summer it has been. Ay, yi, yi.
You may remember that my husband and I moved to Cottage Grove in 1989. We were city folks from California and used to growing almost everything in the backyard with no problems except bugs.
So, when we greenies moved to the country on undeveloped acreage, we went crazy planting seasonal flower and vegetable gardens. In fact, one year, things went so well that my roses won first- and second-place ribbons at the Western Oregon Exhibition Fair.
Peace in the garden did not last long, as hungry brown eyes were watching us, and soon a war would begin. We quickly learned that our beautiful and brown calm deer families would destroy anything edible in their paths. All they had to do was wait until midnight, and the buffet was open! To them, it was delicious; to us, it was maddening.
I wrote my first “Dear Deer” column in 2001 and another in 2009. In them, I mentioned the different ways in which my husband and I tried to discourage the animals from grazing and destroying our hard work. The only thing that worked during these experimental efforts, however, seemed to be a tall vegetable garden fence that Chuck, a Master Gardener, installed.
Flowers around the house were a different story. I suspected there must be a school in the woods teaching our deer how to jump fences into flower gardens at night. We thought our five-foot-tall fence would stop them. Wrong!
This year, the deer totally wiped out all the flower beds as soon as they bloomed! One evening, as I came out of the house, I watched a doe jump over the electric fence into a three-ft.-wide area! She leaped out again as soon as she saw me, but that night, the doe and her crew nearly destroyed all 75 rose bushes! Then they added the deck planters to their meals!
My husband and I needed help.
Finally, we went to The Tractor Store and ordered a “Solar Yard Animal Repeller” to try out. According to the description of the device, it was powered by the sun and could send out pulses of ultrasonic waves to agitate deer, raccoons, squirrels, and stray cats. My husband and I hoped this would be the answer we were seeking and that the animals could be satisfied just eating grass.
Right? Wrong! The local wildlife completely ignored the device. So far, nothing has stopped them except - wait for it - paper towels soaked in vinegar! And what a mess that is! Mother Nature always wins! But Hope springs eternal!
On the bright side, these same deer are a lot more welcome on the property than the bears, cougars, and other wildlife that run around the forests above us or that come down the river towards us.
The positive aspects to living with deer are that they’re quiet, mostly calm, and they are beautiful. Their visits to our home usually start with a young buck. The buck shows up alone and is entertaining as he practices acclimating to his newfound headgear. Later on, he will arrive with a newly formed family of three comprised of himself and two does. Ultimately a couple of fawns make it five. The moms are sweet reminders of the ongoing, loving care possessed by all kinds of mothers. At first, they hover over the little ones; later, though, they find a safe place on our property for the babies to rest while they get something to eat.
Teaching them to jump is mandatory!
The variety of other critters and birds visiting Kaiser’s Diner is amazing. Can you say “red-naped sapsucker?” Sadly, there are no more blue ribbons for my roses, but I’m not giving up. Thankfully, we count our blessings out here in the country – including deer - because there is never a dull moment.