Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dealing with deer

7/8/09 Chatterbox Dealing with deer Betty Kaiser Dear “deer,” Our last formal communication via this newspaper column was in Oct. 2001. Obviously too much time has passed because you did it again! This time you wiped out my prized rose garden early in the season during bloom prime time. Your behavior is unacceptable if you wish to continue to co-exist with us at Wilson Creek Meadows. Early in April you began scouting out the crime scene as you elegantly wandered down the driveway at sunset. Tall and elegant, we watched in awe as you strutted your stuff. We named you Dancer and Prancer. Every night the dogs would sit on the deck waiting to chase you onto the rear of the property. But you kept coming back, tantalizing them and mesmerizing us. One night you couldn’t keep it together any longer and munched down dozens of tulips in planters near the house while you were scouting the area for dessert. In late May you became more brazen. At first you just sampled a few early rose petals near Chuck’s workshop. Then you discovered the new tender perennials that we planted. Some you ate right down to the nub. Others, like the Columbines, were not to your liking so you just pulled them up and spit them out. All the while, you were just waiting to chow down on dozens of tea roses along the front of the house. I’ll bet that you were imaging the fragrance and texture of roses as you grazed on grass. Once upon a time, the sight of your grazing cousins would evoke in us a sense of peace and wonder. As city dwellers, deer alerts were a surefire way to keep our kids occupied while driving through wilderness areas in state or national parks. At the time I thought there could be no more tranquil scene that a doe feeding in a meadow with her fawns. One of my favorite sayings was, “Aren’t they sweet?” Well, after 20 years of growing roses in deer country, I’ve discovered that you are not sweet. In fact, you are — animals! Cunning and conniving, your peaceful appearance is just a façade to lull home gardeners into a false sense of security. Well, it’s not going to work. Remember the vegetable garden? Your cousins kept breaking down our aged field fence barrier. After one of your buddies got hit by a car, ran onto the property (straight for the garden!) and died, Chuck built the Taj Mahal of garden fences. It is 8 feet 4 inches high with pressure treated 4 X 4 posts, raised beds and locking gates. Now, birds are the only predators that snack on the seeds, strawberries and tomatoes. One fine summer evening, a few years ago, several of you got together and invaded my English rose garden. Now the Cecile Bruners, Abraham Darbys and Gertrude Jekyll’s are snugly protected from your advances by a decorative fence with solar lights so you can see what you’re missing. Until this year, we have been able to reasonably protect the roses across the front of the house with a double strand of nearly invisible hot wire. By and large, your predecessors have respected this barrier. Once in awhile — in the dead of summer — when the fragrance becomes overwhelming, someone walks down the sidewalk and gingerly samples a few roses. Then they move on. You, however, are gluttons. Earlier this month, I was horrified when I stepped out onto the front porch. Most of the 75 rose bushes were broken; blossoms were either neatly snapped off the stems or the entire stalk was stripped of leaves and thorns like a zipper. In the heat, the bushes were already starting to wilt from the enzymes in your mouth. What were you thinking? Where were your manners?! Thanks to you, Wilson Creek Meadows now looks like a war zone. Property protection is the name of the game. Charm has gone out the window. We look more like a fortress than a house. New motion lights have been added. Stronger battery chargers have been purchased; wires are now strung across the walkways and an increasing array of barriers has been added. It ain’t pretty. Now, Dancer and Prancer, we are reasonable landlords. We are willing to share five of our six-acre meadow with you. The catch being that we maintain complete control over the one-acre that includes all of my flower beds. This rule is not subject to argument or arbitration. The flowers are mine! Got it? If, my ‘deer’ friends, you don’t agree, it’s time for you to move on. You need to dance and prance off to the nearby parks where the campers will appreciate you. Blackberry season is right around the corner so you won’t go hungry. And don’t forget to visit our neighbors. Some of them are very generous and probably still serving USDA approved deer food. Let’s face it; you’ve worn out your welcome on our acre. Have you forgotten that that hunting season is coming? You’re going to need a place to hide. Your loaned acreage has a stand of trees that will serve you well if you just cooperate with us. Now, you know that I am persistent. But so far, nothing has worked to deter your destructive rounds. Not blood meal, deodorant soap, hair clippings, bright lights, clanging bells or barking dogs. Maybe it’s time to bring in the big guns (metaphorically speaking!). There’s new motion sensor water deterrent on the market. A Bull Mastiff dog or guard llama might work. Barbed wire is another option. Get the picture? My creative mind is now adrenaline driven. So, let’s call a truce. I’ll smell the roses while you munch the meadow. Deal? Or no deal? It’s your choice. Your rosy landlord, Betty Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

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