The late spring also led to hungry deer. I say hungry -- I mean famished. Deer are beautiful creatures when you aren’t actively competing with them, but the local Odocoileus virginianus herds overstepped their bounds in my view when in March they stripped the leaves off our camellia bushes. Next to go was the first growth of every
daylily in the yard. Few gardening terrors are worse than a herd of hungry deer.
Here are a couple of photos of our local deer, taken by Karen during one of this winter's snowstorms:
sometimes two or more. Of course traffic on nearby Route 20 thins them out a bit, but otherwise their predators are few and far between. We have wildcats and coyotes and occasionally bear, but these are not a threat to healthy grown deer. The amount of legal hunting in a woodsy rural neighborhood like ours is negligible. Illegal hunting is generally very modest, although I sometimes wonder if the single gunshots we hear from time to time represent the demise of a deer who has pushed his luck too far.
Karen and I have been discussing deer fences for years. What has finally catalyzed us to act is the nascent vegetable garden we’re in the process of installing. Our original idea was to fence in a convenient area next to the house for vegetables in raised beds. On second thought, I decided to enclose my new side beds and rock garden as well. This will result in a much larger fenced area. We are now building the long-deferred fences. Since deer can almost fly, anything less than an eight-foot fence would be a waste of effort. An eight foot fence requires ten foot fence posts and a lot of wire.
Ted, Alan and Mike came over last Saturday, and we spent the day hauling cinderblocks for the raised beds, planting fence posts, painting the sheds, trimming trees, dragging limbs to the brush pile and otherwise enjoying ourselves. Cinderblocks and fence posts are designed for efficiency. Working with these construction materials is more like a task of assembly and less a puzzle, compared to working with rough
stone and fallen logs procured out of the woods. You don’t have to interrogate cinderblocks or reason out the peculiarities of an individual log. Some would say reasoning out our own peculiarities is work enough, but that job will never be finished.
see a deer staring through the window at me. My response is invariably deeply spiritual. “Holy shit.” Not that the deer seem impressed. I imagine they are just curious, indulging in learning opportunities, checking out the interior terrain. Sometimes the creature looking in is a not a deer, but a raccoon or an opossum. But the commonest visitor to these sills, soon to be fenced off, is one or another of the feral yard cats.