February 21, 2012

The Truth Comes Out

I have always loved watching wildlife from my windows. Along with all the cows, I've watched Bald Eagles and Wild Turkeys, squirrels and rabbits, and even the occasional wolf or bear. I've loved it all, but there is one animal who's visits have been particularly enjoyed. Deer.

They are so quiet and beautiful. A big buck showing off his spectacular headgear, small herds swiftly leaping over shrubbery while waving white tails in the air, pretty, young does walking slowly with their tiny, speckled fawns in tow - sometimes so well camouflaged I felt privileged to have spotted them at all.

Funny just how quickly things can change. Yesterday had me day-dreaming about shotguns, tree stands, and venison.

After moving from our tiny house in the woods to our little farm, I have come to see deer as the Jekyll and Hyde of the animal world. Deep in the woods they roam around happily, doing their deer thing, not bugging anyone. Out in the open fields, however, they undergo a drastic personality change, becoming needy, greedy, and even depressed. Yes. I said it. Our deer are depressed. Seeing no hope for life outside the forest, many of them become suicidal. (They also develop a hatred for motorized conveyances. This is a bad combination.) Loitering by the side of the road these bummed-out hoodlum deer wait for a vehicle to jump out in front of.  (One of our friends claims this as the reason she has lost every car she has ever owned - except one; that was when she hit a cow.)

Some of the deer do resist such an over-dramatic response to being "wood-less." They successfully head off the more severe depression by binge eating. They become furry, four-legged locusts clearing everything in their paths.  Our neighbor lost a fair bit of his corn crop last year to deer with the munchies. I felt bad for him. I really did, but since I wasn't the one who's fields were being eaten, I held on to my affection for the creatures. That has come to an end.

Last fall we planted four young apple trees. They were the first things we planted after moving in, and I felt they were special outdoor signs announcing to our new neighbors we were here to stay. I envisioned them years from now, gracefully spreading their fruit-laden branches over our driveway and picnic table. Now I realize we will have to fight to see this dream come true. The deer have found our trees. And they found them delicious. Did you know deer will eat the bark and tender young branches right off a baby tree? Even if said baby tree is...mine?

This is a problem. Not only do we wish to protect the trees we have already planted, we are also planning on beginning our apple orchard this year. They will all be at risk until they are larger. It will be like a candy store for deer!

I went straight to the Internet. Deer are a tricky pest, and other than fencing in our entire property with a VERY tall fence (How high can a deer jump? Make a guess - then double it.) complete with razor wire across the top, it seems nothing is entirely deer-proof. I have neither the money nor desire to make our farm look like a maximum security prison, so I believe some experimentation is in order.

The first solution suggested was urine.

"You want me to take the boys outside to pee on the trees," my husband asked. Oh our neighbors would love that.

"Actually, My Love, I believe the suggestion was to buy bottled coyote urine."

"How do the coyotes know to pee in the bottles?" He was laughing at me.

"Another idea is to scatter human hair around the trees," I read on.

"Well, I need a haircut now anyway, but once the orchard's in we'll have to shave the kids' heads, too. It's a good thing we have so many!"

I made a face at him. "So, what do you think we should do?" 

"No problem. I'll shoot 'em. I'll stay up all night, every night  lying in wait for them, then... BLAM-O! Venison burgers."

There were other suggestions: blood meal, mothballs, even stinky buckets of waste obtained from a local sewage treatment plant. Eeeeewwwwww!!!!! (I'll think about it.)

It seems I have a bit more research to do. If you have any ideas, feel free to throw them our way. In the meantime, keep an eye out for deer. Now you know the truth. And so do I.


Susan Elaine Mew said...

Try a product called Liquid Fence. My father in law says it helps! We get it at the local natural food coop.

Lisa said...

My grandmother hung pie tins from her trees in the hopes of scaring them away -- and it was somewhat helpful, I think. Also pinwheels. Both of these prob'ly work better with the wind blowing, though. And the hair scattered about (which I've also heard about...) wouldn't work with the wind blowing -- so, if you're on top of it, you could run out and throw hair on non-windy days, and steal the kids' pinwheels for windy days. Or just pray to St. Francis of Asissi (or St. Martin dePorres, who also loved animals)...

Lisa said...

And, Oh! I almost forgot! I have an award for you over at my place! It's for "Newly found blogs" -- and yours isn't that new to me -- but I really wanted to give it to you, anyway. And you're a "newish" friend, right?

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna tell Bambi what you said...Mom

Stephanie said...

I don't know if you have woodchucks there, but if you do, you're really going to love them too. :)

Jenny said...

My sister manages a Great Clips in MN. Sometimes people come in and ask for her hair sweepings for this very purpose. You could check salons around here. It's worth a shot--and it's free!

Otherwise, I could ask Lydia if she would part with her hairball. Seriously. When I do haircuts at home, she collects the "scraps" and adds them to her hairball which she keeps in a box. (And that "part with her hairball" pun was totally intended.)

Kids are blessings, but they sure are weird sometimes.

P.S. I meant to ask you about the cane on Thursday. Is everything okay? Jen@ngyc.org