Deer damage

I hate deer. I really, really really hate deer.

Their population is out of control. They cause car accidents and spread disease (Lyme disease, anyone?). They are the aboveground, vegetarian equivalent of the sewer rat.

Also, they eat all my plants.

These tomatoes should be twice as big.

They ate about a quarter of the borage patch; look how tall the untouched plants are.

This makes me so mad – rampant destruction. Not just a bite here and there, but all the leaves off several plants. At least two are goners.

My poor zucchini. I give it a 50% chance of survival, less if they come back tonight. In the pic above this one you can see this zuke’s “twin” to the right. That’s how big it was before the deer got it last night.

All this destruction is after I heavily sprayed deer repellant just a day or two ago. (And oh, I forgot to take pictures of my two Zinfandels that were also eaten back to bare stems.) All the time and labor spent hauling manure and sprouting seeds and buying perennials, just to have the deer walk by and raze them to the ground in a single night… it gets expensive, people. And it makes me so furious.

My parents gave us some money last year to help defray the costs of a deer fence. We had in mind 7 feet of welded wire with stout wooden posts around the entire farm garden. But because of the water table and building permit issues it just seemed like too huge a job so we decided not to do it. I mean, none of the three fence companies that came out ever got back to me with estimates (even after repeated phone calls!), so obviously they thought it was too big a job as well. And you know, 7′ welded wire might be kind of prison-like actually. Though it oughta keep the dad-gummed raccoons off my corn as well (500sf of corn last year and we got not a single ear).

But maybe it’s time to look into electric fencing. Perhaps even just around the area that the deer pressure is highest – they come from the woods, not near the road. It’s light, cheap, and everyone tells me it’s easy to DIY. We could get a solar charger for it. Another small fence a few feet inside to keep toddlers away from it should do nicely.

Because I’ve already looked into having hunters come over. Our property is too narrow to allow for shooting unless we get the neighbors’ permission. Though that would be some sweet-tasting venison, I’ll tell ya.

I should know, I’ve been feeding it.

17 Responses to “Deer damage”

  1. Aunt Nancy Says:

    Deer, it’s what’s for dinner! :) Sorry to hear your woes.

  2. Sam Says:

    Have you thought about electric fencing? I haven’t read up on it but the guy I used to work for fenced his bee yards to keep bears our, would have to be higher for dear but wouldn’t need to be nearly as solid or expensive as full metal fencing, maybe five wires every 1.5 feet.

  3. Katie Says:

    Didn’t I see you with a rifle in an earlier post? Time for some venison!

  4. Darcy Says:

    And I thought that my dog ripping up my blueberry bushes and carrots and sitting on all my bean sproutlings was bad! At least I can leash him – not even repellant works, eh? Maybe these are the deer equivalent of “super bugs” – repellant resistant! I hope that whatever happens a solution comes soon! And I can give you a great recipe for venison sausage from my delicatessen days! :-)

  5. Kathleen Says:

    So sorry about your garden. So frustrating. The deer kept after my roses until I finally just took them out. They also killed a bed of daylilies that a Sunday school teacher I had as a kid gave me and that my Dad planted. I had had them for years.

  6. heidi Says:

    Oh, Diana, I’ m so sorry! What an awful turn.You gotta fence. Those deer repellents don’t work worth beans…specially with the lovely salad bar you have provided…
    Today I mowed the back 40 and tonight as the sunset over the hills, I was in the sunporch admiring my handiwork (and boy, do I ache!) when a tinge of movement caught my eye, right below the window, not 5 feet away. A flash of gopher tugging a piece of greenery into his hole. Another flash of gopher…boy do I hope the hawks and vultures discover that I cleaned the (killing?) field and now they can see the gophers in the ghetto…

  7. diana Says:

    Thanks everyone! We are definitely looking into electric fencing. I feel like I’ll have to get a book from the library before I’ll be willing to tackle it. I am also unsure how to run the wire, since the chicken coop breaks the garden up somewhat. I wish I didn’t have to have it near the entrance. And I’ll have to build four gates, one for each side. Right now it seems like a monumental task; I think the first step is just to get a book or something.

    As for venison – well it turns out I’m a terrible shot as well as a wuss! I have a friend who’s willing to come over and do the deed for half the meat. That sounds good to me – but we need the neighbors’ permissions and hunting season isn’t for a while yet I think. Farm-fed venison does sound delicious though!

  8. heidi Says:

    Be careful of the venison idea. Having worked in the lab I have heard some epidimiological horror stories of what may be in the meat you can catch yourself (never mind what lurks in those plastic-wrapped supermarket trays). If you get wild meat, take a good look to make sure it doesn’t have “funny” spots or lesions…and cook the heck out of it…
    If you do it, do you have any uses in mind for the pelt? the antlers?the hooves? Knowing you, you probably do. Please, no Christmas surprises…

  9. heidi Says:

    Too bad cactus don’t grow there–you could have had a fence without need for a permit. Even the deer wouldn’t try to storm that.
    What about a horizontal fence–Netting lying on the ground wide enough that the deer and coons couldn’t jump over it without getting caught… or a series of small fences leading outward without room between for them to land or take off…just a few really random thoughts.Is there a limit on height before you have to get a permit?

  10. ohiofarmgirl Says:

    great.big.dogs. thats whatcha need, baby, great big dogs. or just send your man out there to pee all along the fence line. that will help too

    ps thanks for the fun links!!!

  11. Erin Says:

    Phil’s looking into bow hunting for yah honey;)

  12. diana Says:

    Erin that would be AWESOME!!!

    OFG: But … then we would have dogs. :)

    Mama: I actually planted a couple willow, thinking perhaps one day we’ll have an English-style hedgerow or something. But in the mean time I’m just looking into electric netting. I think we can do just the woods part of the garden for under $1000.

  13. Tracey Says:

    ofg has it right (funny, I found your link from her site! :grin:) I have been having problems with deer as well and have been having my hubby pee in a gallon milk jug and I pour the contents around my garden when it is full. Haven’t had a deer problem since! I tried spreading spices first (peppery) and that didn’t work so we tried the pee and low and behold, it worked!

  14. diana Says:

    Pee, huh? HMMMMM! That sounds like something I think I could try – if my hubby doesn’t get completely grossed out by the suggestion. 😀

  15. Tracey Says:

    I just leave the jug on the toilet and I empty it every day. I hear it is good for the compost pile as well which I will start putting it in next. Just be sure to hide it if you are having company over. 😳 I try and do everything on the cheap and as natural as possible. The Contrary Farmer talks about recycling poo but that is just way too gross for me.

  16. Melissa Says:

    You should try using an organic fertilizer that contains bloodmeal and planting wormwood throughout the garden.

  17. diana Says:

    Hi Melissa! Wormwood, huh? I’ll give it a shot, because I do think it’s a beautiful plant. I did sprinkle bloodmeal all around the plants, but perhaps it’s time for another dose.

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