The Evil Deer

January 22, 2011

homesteading, pests, winter

I hate deer. Yep. If you saw Bambi in the theatre as a child, and were shocked to hear someone cheering on the hunter, that was probably me. Me, or some other Upstate New Yorker. Because most Upstaters- no matter their political or religious differences– all seem to be in perfect harmony with our hatred for deer.

Oh SURE, deer are cute, especially the young ones. But heck, even baby alligators are cute. I don’t see any alligator-huggers out there.

Deer eat everything I plant in my yard. EVERYTHING. They have an entire forest up the hill and in the back from which to graze, yet they find my apple trees and red oak and my arbor vitae much more appealing. Look at the damage to my arbor vitae. :( I could cry.

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deerarborvitae3

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They basically denuded the shrubs of their leaves. :( :( Those things cost $25 each, and I planted a row of them as a privacy shield from the busy parking lot next door, where they have lots of social gatherings and trucks pulling in and out. Well, so much for the privacy fence. :( To give you an idea of the extent of the damage, this is what the shrubs looked like last year before the eating machines with springs got to them:

Dec1Rain

Yeah, we get floods here, too. The water drainage is poor (clay soil), the water table is high, and we’ve had our basement washed out a couple of times for us! We had to do it ourselves).

So I’m a little discouraged sometimes about the yard and gardens. It has been 13 years of hard, hard labor to try to make this small parcel of weedy, overgrown land into something cultivated and livable. But it’s been a vicious upward battle, believe me. Between neighbor kids chopping down my trees, the deer, the flooding, the pest invasions, the other neighbors diverting their runoff into my yard…. it’s been a battle JUST to have a couple of small gardens and trees. I have probably planted about 2 dozen trees on this property, only to have FIVE survive.

The deer have also been eating my new grape vine by the vegetable garden.

Yes, we have tried repellent. I have tried tin pie pans, soap, garlic/egg spray, dried blood, human hair, running outside and screaming at the top of my lungs… I’m seriously considering a 10-foot wooden fence. But then, they just might chew through it, and that’ll be another couple thousand $$ down the hole.

Wah.

Oh well, spring is coming. I’ll be able to see the full extent of the damage and work on it then. Know of any good commercial deer repellents?

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16 Responses to “The Evil Deer”

  1. Mike Says:

    I love deer, but not what they do… I have some experience with taking care of plants and gardens, and they can be some of the biggest hindrances to the plants growth. They always seem to chew the plants to about 12-16 inches off the ground. Hmm…
    Mike

  2. Laura Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the winter cat shelter. I couldn’t figure out how to post on that blog entry!

    We made two for our outdoor cats and they absolutely love them. Cost us $50 for both and my husband and I couldn’t be happier.

    We are in Southern California so it doesn’t get THAT cold but is good to know they can be nice an toasty when it does get into the 30′s.

    Great idea and so FUN to have made!

  3. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    I love deer, too, Mike. With a little salt.

  4. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Laura, I am so happy you came back to tell me your success story! Wow! I’m glad your kitties are toasty. :D Thanks for your comment, it makes my day. :)

  5. Mike Says:

    You’re bad! :D

  6. Marg Says:

    You need to get a dog and put up a fence around your yard, then the dog can be loose in there and chase the deer out. The deer will jump a fence but think twice about it if there is a dog out there. You could also put electric fence around the yard. That is too bad about your bushes. My neighbors have trouble with deer coming in their yard and I don’t because I have two dogs and a fenced in yard.

  7. lin Says:

    Can you build “cages” around them to protect them while they are growing? I was thinking chicken wire or something. Okay, so it would not look great for awhile, but maybe it would deter them a bit and give them a chance of survival. I get it–my friend has tons of damage from them too! And I thought the raccoons were bad!!!

  8. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Marg, we did have a dog (Daisy the Beagle) who died over the summer. She wasn’t much of a watchdog, LOL, but when we had her tied in the back, she did deter some deer. But I don’t like dogs all that much. I like the idea of a fence. YEAH an electric fence! One that makes the deers’ eye bulge to their knees when they approach it! Mauauauauauuauaau!!!

  9. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Lin, after I took the photos, I bonked my head V-8 style. Plant fences! I guess I’m going to have to fence in my plants during the winter. Of course, the deer do come in the spring and summer and chew things up, but not as frequently.

    Gah! If it’s not raccoons, it’s deer, or crazy teenage boys! Gardeners are doomed, I tell ya! LOL Thanks for your comment. :D

  10. Carole Says:

    The deer are a horrible problem here too and we also came to the conclusion that the only thing that seemed to work is fencing. It’s a bit of a pain for my husband to put it up every fall and take it down every spring, but it works better than anything we’ve tried to protect the shrubbery. We use nylon fencing with metal fencepost thingies that my husband can pound into the ground with a rubber mallet. Not a terribly attractive solution, but the only one we’ve found that works. And it’s not too horribly expensive. Good luck!!

  11. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Carole, that fencing sounds like a good idea. How tall is the fencing? I figured that anything under 8 feet would not be effective, since deer jump so well. That’s been the main problem, installing 8-foot fencing on an acre+ of property, UGH. But if what you have works, we may try it.

  12. Carole Says:

    You know, despite the fact that we have like, 10ft fencing for the garden, our fencing for the shrubbery is only like 4ft tall. We have on a few rare occasions seen a deer jump it to take a munch, but surprisingly, it seems to be a fairly good deterrent, despite the low height. I just took some pics and posted them to my blog – you can see despite the fact that the fences are not that tall, all our shrubbery is still intact. We’ve been doing it this way for years now, and seems to work for us, anyway. You can see what you think: http://www.carolesthoughtfulspot.com/2011/01/anti-evil-deer-fencing-pics-for-mrs.html Good luck finding a solution – those dern deer sure are buggers, aren’t they?!?

  13. hideawayhill Says:

    I have deer in my yard daily for at least 3 seasons. (Don’t see much of them in the winter). They generally eat from my apple trees. Last summer they ate all my blueberries in 2 days and I mentioned it to a “native” who said hang Irish spring soap from the branches. I don’t know if it works, but it’s a cheap solution to try. :)

  14. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Hi hideawayhill! Thanks for your comment.

    Deer almost killed my apple trees in the back. I did hang soap (Ivory brand, I think it was). I also religiously sprayed the leaves with garlic/egg wash and pesticides for two years (what a chore!- has to be done after rainfall and if you remember, we’ve had some mighty rainy seasons in Upstate NY!). Well, the trees look like they will survive. One was damaged bad enough so that it’s now a midget, but it stubbornly produces leaves every spring! We got no apples last year, though… not sure why. Neither tree produced fruit even though they had blooms.

    Anyway, I will try Irish Spring, too. I will get each arbor vitae it’s own little bar! Thanks for the help. :D