They ate the holly!
It was mid February, my wife looked out the window and screamed.
“They’ve eaten half the holly tree.” They being the deer, the same deer that had denuded our ivy patch the month before. “The digestive system of a wood chipper,” I said, trying to insert a little levity. To no avail. She knew we had a big problem and unless we came up with a solution, her prized garden, would be history.
It was like an old Gary Cooper western, where Gary, who much preferred to hang around the bunkhouse and tell tall tales, was being called out by the villainous Black Bart, in this case Buck. When the homestead is threatened, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do; either that or saddle up and ride over to the marriage counselor’s and explain why he didn’t.
So I levered myself off the couch, opened the front door and in my best Gary Cooper drawl said, ‘’Buck, there ain’t enough room in this town for the both of us.” This started the dog next door barking, but not much else. Ever the Neville Chamberlain, I tried one last chance at appeasement. “What if you planted less deer friendly plants, something they won’t eat, dandelions for example.”? Her withering look told me Buck and I would be locking horns.
Our problem was a deer population explosion. Where before it was the occasional deer, now it was a family, and they were permanent residents. I could tell because I saw one coming back from the mailbox with a handful of bills. Fortunately I had spotted this problem the year before and taken precautionary measures. Measures influenced by events in Invermere, where concerned citizens when faced with the same problem were advocating contraception rather than a deer cull. Their plan was to inject the contraceptive, but I don’t do needles.
That’s how I ended up at the local store shopping for deer condoms. Oddly enough, they were out of stock, so I went down to the butcher’s for sausage casing and made my own. Sizing was a bit of an issue, but it’s hard to go wrong with medium.
I handed the condoms out to every deer in the neighbourhood and delivered what I thought was a rousing lecture on condom usage, how under no circumstances they were to be blown up and used as weather balloons. You’d think in these hard economic times deer would be eager to practice safe sex and family planning, but no. They either threw the condoms away or the dog next door ate them thinking they might be some kind of anorexic sausage.
Plan B was a fence. Pressure treated poles with wire metal fencing was recommended by the fence guru. “But it’s ugly,” he said. “You’re going to want it way back on the property away from the garden otherwise the place will look like Stalag 13.
Which made good sense until he dropped the price, ten grand! After the 911 guys revived me, he suggested that playing “Cedar Boy” was a cheaper solution and way more fun. That’s where you mount a case of Lucky Lager and two armchairs in the back of the pick up, load up the firearms then go chasing deer across the field, hoping like hell you don’t pull a Dick Cheney and puncture one of the neighbors. Sadly, I have no killer instinct, even with flies it’s catch and release, usually with an apology for interrupting their day.
Next stop the Internet where I learned about deer repellents. Apparently spreading the urine of a natural enemy, say a coyote, around the yard frightens them off. Getting the coyote to piss in the bottle is the trick.
But wait a minute. I too am a natural enemy of deer, not a particularly effective enemy, but an enemy nevertheless. So I started, ah, anointing the property using a mixture of white wine, coffee with a little beer thrown in to smooth things out. Filtered of course through the kidney. This failed to impress the deer but did impress the neighbour who shook her fist at me.
This only strengthened my resolve. I switched over to a medium bodied Spanish red, the Laya, at $14.99, cheap as far as repellents go, and downright tasty. To further establish my bonefides as a predator, I started wearing camouflage clothing, complete with green beret when anointing the perimeter. I’ve also taken to whistling “The Eve of Destruction” while on patrol. Just in case this doesn’t work, if you happen to have some fence posts real cheap….
Delbert Horrocks is the co-proprietor at Mahle House. Check Delbert’s blog: Slightlycorkedand more.wordpress.com