Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh, Deer!

I am now reading Allan W. Eckert's "That Dark and Bloody River," a narrative history of European settlement of the Ohio River valley between 1768 and 1811. The settlers built forts to protect themselves from attacks by Native American Indians, and those venturing outside the forts to hunt or raise crops were always at greater risk of death from Indian attacks. It dawned on me we still have an analogous situation, although considerably less serious. Deer.

We live on the edge of a national park in what can only be described as prime deer habitat. The houses nestled in the woodlands and the few farmers' fields around provide abundant forest edge, which for deer is the Garden of Eden. We've erected our fort of chicken wire to a height of 6 feet to keep them away from the tomatoes and peppers. But the Black-eyed Susans outside the fence have fallen prey to their avarice.

Each of those bare stalks once had a blossom or a bud ready to open. Just like the settlers who ventured outside the forts, some have been scalped.


  1. How sad. Black-eyed Susans are such pretty flowers.
    I'd find it very hard to cope with deer, wouldn't want to shoot them but wouldn't want them to eat my garden either.

    I suppose fencing everything in is not really an option?

  2. While the Black-eyed Susans are pretty, my wife has long since gone to deer-resistant plantings. Those that were eaten were volunteer from seed formed in previous years. Fencing all plantings really isn't practical for us. The only real solution is to have a dog that runs loose and chases the deer away. Again, not a practical solution for us. Still, thanks for the comment, Friko. Jim

  3. We tried to plant things that deer do not eat. Unfortunately, when they come in herds of six or seven, every single one of them must take a bite to make certain they don't like it. We spray repellent which works quite well until it rains. Then we work hard to get to the plants before the deer do. They win more often than we do.

  4. You're right, there doesn't seem to be anything that is completely deer-proof. Deer-resistant plantings fare better, but aren't immune. We planted butterfly bush behind the garden, and one of those has been half eaten. But Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers seem to be delicacies that are eaten as soon as they bloom. We tried repellant, as well. Not only did it prove to be expensive, but we also frequently lost the post-rain race with the deer.