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Prime Realization: Our New Visiting Friends—Deer in the Garden

Posted by at 5:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)


Prime Realization: Our New Visiting Friends—Deer in the Garden by Kerry AnderlikAt first, we couldn’t figure it out. Was there some kind of insect cutting off the stems of the tomatoes and chewing the leaves off the pole beans? Every time we replanted our tomatoes, the same thing would happen. We would see the progressive damage to our beloved tomatoes and scratch our heads. That is, until our detective doggies handed us the clue.

One day, we found our dear companions rolling in the evidence: strategic piles of deer droppings. Deer had discovered the garden!

This was a surprise to us because we hadn’t seen a single deer in our garden ever, but looking at the evidence, it was clear that they were coming around every few days to nibble the new growth—and because of it, we were quickly losing some of our crops.

In the beginning, we started worrying that we would have problems with the tomatoes and that we might not get a bean crop either. The advice most often handed to us was to put deer fencing around the whole garden. That seemed like the solution we were going to resort to until that one day when I saw them.

Early that morning, I spotted the most beautiful mama deer and her adorable fawn, grazing right in the middle of the garden. I remember this moment in great detail because it was so special. If you are like me, you probably have seen deer hundreds of times in your life. But that day, something happened: Not only did I see them, I also really spent time looking at them and reflecting, fully absorbing their beauty and grace. I really perceived them as the wonderful animals they are.

When they saw me, they froze. We made eye contact, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. In that instant, their whole lives flashed in front of my eyes. They are being pushed out of their homes by new developments being built on the wooded hillsides. They are being slain by hunters who kill them as a cruel “sport.” They are being chased by speeding cars running through their backyards. Every day, their lives become more disturbed and their natural habitat smaller. Now I was going to contribute to that by doing what many others do: I was going to fence them out of areas where they used to roam freely. Not anymore.

That was three years ago, and since then, deer have remained frequent visitors to our garden. The simple joy of seeing them in our garden is priceless. We strategically place deer netting over certain parts of the garden, and we are experimenting with a humane deer repellant on particular plants, but we have learned to live with less and to share what we grow with the deer, the birds, and the squirrels.

What do you think?

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    Kathryn says...

    December 25th, 2009, 10:43 am

    What do I think? I think it is fabulous that you are sharing your garden with deer. :-)))

    Kelly says...

    December 25th, 2009, 12:47 pm

    I think it’s beautiful that someone actually acknowledges how humans have invaded the living space of animals. Rather than look at them as pests, they are willing to share their space. I think that’s beautiful. I get the same feeling whenever I see a deer – i see their grace & gentleness. Thank you for seeing this, too, & for finding an alternative to shutting them out while still keeping your garden!

    Deneen Tokich says...

    December 25th, 2009, 12:53 pm

    Way to go! This world needs more thoughtful and compassionate people like you!

    Marcia says...

    December 25th, 2009, 1:01 pm

    I understand how you feel. After moving to a new home in a rural area I did research on native plantings for my yard that would be inviting to animals yet they wouldn’t eat them (i.e. ferns, rhodies, Douglas fir, etc.). The deer haven’t touched many plantings but almost no plant is totally safe . I do protect certain plants with netting. There is something that is safe and does seem to do the job you may try. Get nylons (can be knee highs), buy the ORIGINAL Irish Spring bar soap, cut the soap into small pieces and put some in each appropriately cut knee high, and tie to plants. It works pretty well but once in a while you do have to replace the soap. I, too, love my deer and many times there will be as many as 5-6 deer in my front yard. When the weather is nice, some will even lay down. So very cute. I also feed them daily (in the evening) carrots, apples (cut up in pieces, of course), and a blend of dried corn and various seeds and nuts. All the animals love these. Enjoy your new friends.

    Bert says...

    December 25th, 2009, 1:26 pm

    I have been living in my home right next to the woods for about 12 years now. Right after I moved here I saw the deer trails that run right through my back yard and garden. I started to notice something was eating my plants in the garden but instead of getting mad and fencing in the garden I just started planting 2 or 3 times what I knew I would use, for the critters to eat, as I can always go to the store but they cannot. I also started puting out shelled corn starting in the fall and all through the winter so they would have food to eat and keep them warm. I have motion detector lights in the back yard and they would come on every night when my friends would show up for they evening meal. I sometimes just stand at the window and watch them eat for over half an hour. Sometimes I have up to 8 of them at one time. Nothing makes me smile more than seeing the little fawns with there Mom’s and watching them grow up. Sometimes they just stand and watch me fill up their feeders, they know I would never hurt them. Soon as I go back in the house they come over and start eating. I don’t know how anyone could shoot and kill these wonderful creatures. They have no choice but to share their land with us, the least we can do is respect their rights also.

    Richard Wilt says...

    December 25th, 2009, 1:38 pm

    Thank you Kerry for putting nature ahead of your own needs. I have a .6 acre lot in town. When I moved in, I fenced a third of it for my six dogs. The front yard is unfenced and kept mowed. The back third I have left natural. It is overgrown with grass and sheltered by pine trees. I enjoy watching deer feed there and they have even gotten used to the dogs and vice-versa. Now they venture up to the side of the house at night and eat the hostas from my plant garden. They are more than welcome to them. I’ve noticed that the hostas re-grow rather quickly. .

    Marsha Kappelman Kravetz says...

    December 25th, 2009, 1:55 pm

    How utterly wonderful and sensitive these folks are to have respect and kindness towards God’s creatures.

    Brandy says...

    December 27th, 2009, 10:03 pm

    I feel the exact same way about deer. There is so much development in my area and the poor deer have nowhere to go. I see them grazing the yards of my neighbors and I realize the impact of all the destruction of forests every time I see a deer, or even think about them. They are beautiful and I’m glad you wrote this article because it is something I have felt most of my life.

    June says...

    December 28th, 2009, 12:11 am

    How sweet and kind of you to do this for the precious deer! We found them wondering by the cemetery where my parents are buried, and we feed them apples, bread and want to go back again & give them carrots and nuts. They are so cute & we took pictures of them. People drive by and stop and throw corn cobs for them also. I didn’t really know what they ate except grass but since there is some snow covering it, I can get the right things for them now. We did see some bucks and fawns, probably a total of 8-10 & I’m sure there are more out there since the place is so big.

    karen bell says...

    January 8th, 2010, 1:51 am

    I used to have a paper route (a big one in my car) and on my route I would see deer on peoples front lawns so early in the morning. I loved that. This was in Carson City, NV at the base of the Sierras.It was like the calming effect of fish in a tank (I wish they weren’t).

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