Sometimes, God gives us little miraculous gifts to lighten our load for the day.
That is the only way I can explain it. I was walking the treadmill yesterday morning at 6:30 a.m. It was a misty, cold morning, in the Flint Hills, about three days after the last snowfall. Another sad day towards Spring without being able to work in the garden. I glanced up at the window to see movement in the garden.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear but four hungry deer feeding in my back garden? I rushed upstairs in an instant and grabbed my camera to capture the moment. I'm sorry for the quality of the pictures, but what can I say? It was still dark, I was using a zoom lens and handholding the camera, and I woke up fifteen minutes before my fine motor skills were tested. Not to mention that I had been exercising seconds before.
Now, some gardeners would be outraged or dismayed at seeing four deer carefully selecting their morning menu from the gardener's larder, but sometimes, as a Darwinian gardener, I'm willing to allow my soft-eyed neighbors a little charity. That is especially true when I know that the weather has been nasty and the pickings are probably getting a little thin on the prairie right now. And when I know that the howling of the coyotes last evening was likely unnerving to these guys and may have driven them out of the bottoms. Besides, most of the stuff I really care about is either surrounded by woven wire or buried deep beneath the snow.
Anyway, this little guy seemed to think that my Clematis paniculata was particularly scrumptious. It is brown and likely will die back a little with the cold winter anyway, so what do I care?
I drew the line at this one, however, when it nibbled at my sole witch hazel, which is just beginning to bloom. I suspect that the scent of the witch hazel may really have been what enticed them up to my garden. Shortly after this, I thought I probably had enough pictures and chased them off, using the camera flash as a substitute for a muzzle blast.
My anti-deer defences are at minimum effectiveness this time of year. I normally have little problem with deer in the area. Well, at least after one group "trimmed" my new apple trees down to bare stems years ago and I learned to keep fencing around all new trees for several years until some stature is obtained. Thankfully, the deer mostly leave my treasured roses alone due to my second defensive tactic. Along with the fencing cylinders around trees, the defensive measure I use successfully in the rest of my garden is a proprietary secret brew that I use to "mark" my territory boundaries frequently during the spring and summer. Forget whatever you have read or heard about hanging soap or human hair in the trees or purchasing lion or wolf urine at $50/ounce to repel deer. I utilize a natural substitute that's readily available nearly every morning, biodegradable, very inexpensive, and almost 100% effective. It even has value as a source of nitrogenous fertilizer if it is not applied too heavily. Production of the substance is by the most natural and organic means and I am able to brew a new batch nearly every morning. I believe it is more potent if the anti-deer application takes place while one is picturing a good venison steak or perhaps a deer head mounted over the fireplace. Unfortunately, my secret ingredient is difficult to apply in winter and the little guy at the left is telling me what he thinks of my efforts to repel him in this coldest of winters.
Only one other person knows about my secret deer-repelling elixir, that is unless the neighbors have been rising early recently. That person happens to be my spouse, who once again proved her tolerance of a slightly-eccentric husband by responding to the news that there were deer in the garden with the command "You need to start peeing in the garden again."
And I shall, just as soon as it warms up a little bit out there.